The Denver Broncos are an American football franchise based in Denver, Colorado. Founded by Bob Howsam on August 14, 1959, the team was one of the founder members of the American Football League (AFL), which began in 1960, before merging with the National Football League (NFL) ahead of the 1970 season, when the Broncos became part of the American Football Conference (AFC) West division; they have been in the same division ever since. As of the end of the 2020 season, Denver has completed 61 seasons (playing in over 970 combined regular season and playoff games), and has appeared in eight Super Bowls; although they lost in each of their first four Super Bowl appearances, they have since won three of them, most recently Super Bowl 50.
The franchise has experienced three major periods of success. The first was from 1976 to 1981, when the Broncos did not have a losing season (a season when the team has more losses than wins), and won two AFC West division titles, and one AFC championship. The second began in 1983 and ended in 1998. During this period, the Broncos had just two losing seasons, were AFC champions five times and were Super Bowl champions for two consecutive years. This second period of success is best remembered for John Elway being the team's quarterback. The most recent run of success began in 2011, lasting until their victory in Super Bowl 50 at the end of the 2015 season. The five-year stretch was primarily spearheaded by the 2012 free agent acquisition of the then four-time League MVP former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, and included five AFC West titles, two AFC championships, as well as the Super Bowl. From their inaugural season in 1960 until 1975, they did not make either the AFL playoffs or NFL playoffs and had just two winning seasons. The Broncos were the only charter AFL franchise to never have a winning season during the AFL's 10 years of existence (although the team finished at 7–7 in 1962), with their first winning season not occurring until 1973, their fourth year as a member of the NFL's AFC. They also experienced their two seasons with the fewest wins ever, winning just two of 14 games in both 1963 and 1964.
The Broncos have been AFC West champions 15 times, winning the division for five consecutive seasons from 2011 to 2015, and have also earned wild card berths into the playoffs seven times, for a total of 22 playoff appearances. They have been conference champions eight times (tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and two behind the New England Patriots who have the most AFC championships) and Super Bowl champions thrice.
|Super Bowl Champions (1970–present)||Conference Champions||Division Champions||Wild Card berth|
|Season||Team||League||Conference||Division||Regular season||Post-season results||Awards||Head coaches|
|1962||1962||AFL||West||2nd||7||7||0||Jack Faulkner (COY)||Jack Faulkner|
|1964||1964||AFL||West||4th||2||11||1||Jack Faulkner (0–4) |
Mac Speedie (2–7–1)
|1966||1966||AFL||West||4th||4||10||0||Mac Speedie (0–2) |
Ray Malavasi (4–8)
|1971||1971||NFL||AFC||West||4th||4||9||1||Lou Saban (2–6–1) |
Jerry Smith (2–3)
|1977||1977||NFL||AFC||West||1st||12||2||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Steelers) 34–21
Won AFC Championship (Raiders) 20–17
Lost Super Bowl XII (vs. Cowboys) 27–10
|Craig Morton (CBPOY)||Red Miller|
|1978||1978||NFL||AFC||West||1st||10||6||0||Lost Divisional Playoffs (at Steelers) 33–10||Randy Gradishar (DPOY)|
|1979||1979||NFL||AFC||West||2nd||10||6||0||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Oilers) 13–7|
|1983||1983||NFL||AFC||West||3rd||9||7||0||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Seahawks) 31–7|
|1984||1984||NFL||AFC||West||1st||13||3||0||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Steelers) 24–17|
|1986||1986||NFL||AFC||West||1st||11||5||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Patriots) 22–17
Won AFC Championship (at Browns) 23–20 (OT)[c]
Lost Super Bowl XXI (vs. Giants) 39–20
|1987[d]||1987||NFL||AFC||West||1st||10||4||1||Won Divisional Playoffs (Oilers) 34–10
Won AFC Championship (Browns) 38–33[e]
Lost Super Bowl XXII (vs. Redskins) 42–10
|John Elway (MVP)|
|1989||1989||NFL||AFC||West||1st||11||5||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Steelers) 24–23
Won AFC Championship (Browns) 37–21
Lost Super Bowl XXIV (vs. 49ers) 55–10
|1991||1991||NFL||AFC||West||1st||12||4||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Oilers) 26–24
Lost AFC Championship (at Bills) 10–7
|Mike Croel (DROY)|
|1993||1993||NFL||AFC||West||3rd||9||7||0||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Raiders) 42–24||Wade Phillips|
|1996||1996||NFL||AFC||West||1st||13||3||0||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Jaguars) 30–27||Terrell Davis (OPOY)|
|1997||1997||NFL||AFC||West||2nd||12||4||0||Won Wild Card Playoffs (Jaguars) 42–17
Won Divisional Playoffs (at Chiefs) 14–10
Won AFC Championship (at Steelers) 24–21
Won Super Bowl XXXII (1) (vs. Packers) 31–24
|Terrell Davis (SB MVP)|
|1998||1998||NFL||AFC||West||1st||14||2||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Dolphins) 38–3
Won AFC Championship (Jets) 23–10
Won Super Bowl XXXIII (2) (vs. Falcons) 34–19
|Terrell Davis (MVP, OPOY)|
John Elway (SB MVP)
|2000||2000||NFL||AFC||West||2nd||11||5||0||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Ravens) 21–3||Mike Anderson (OROY)|
|2002||2002||NFL||AFC||West||2nd||9||7||0||Clinton Portis (OROY)|
|2003||2003||NFL||AFC||West||2nd||10||6||0||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Colts) 41–10|
|2004||2004||NFL||AFC||West||2nd||10||6||0||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Colts) 49–24|
|2005||2005||NFL||AFC||West||1st||13||3||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Patriots) 27–13
Lost AFC Championship (Steelers) 34–17
|2010||2010||NFL||AFC||West||4th||4||12||0||Josh McDaniels (3–9) |
Eric Studesville (1–3)
|2011||2011||NFL||AFC||West||1st||8||8||0||Won Wild Card Playoffs (Steelers) 29–23 (OT)
Lost Divisional Playoffs (at Patriots) 45–10
|Von Miller (DROY)||John Fox|
|2012||2012||NFL||AFC||West||1st||13||3||0||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Ravens) 38–35 (2 OT)||Peyton Manning (CBPOY)|
|2013||2013||NFL||AFC||West||1st||13||3||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Chargers) 24–17
Won AFC Championship (Patriots) 26–16
Lost Super Bowl XLVIII (vs. Seahawks) 43–8
|Peyton Manning (MVP, OPOY)|
|2014||2014||NFL||AFC||West||1st||12||4||0||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Colts) 24–13|
|2015||2015||NFL||AFC||West||1st||12||4||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Steelers) 23–16
Won AFC Championship (Patriots) 20–18
Won Super Bowl 50 (3) (vs. Panthers) 24–10
|Von Miller (SB MVP)||Gary Kubiak|
|Total records (regular season/playoffs/combined)||488||434||10||(1960–2020, includes only regular season)|
|23||19||—||(1960–2020, includes only playoffs)|
|511||453||10||(1960–2020, regular season and playoffs; 3 NFL Championships)|
- As a result of the AFL-NFL merger, the league was broken into two conferences, with the AFL teams moving into the American Football Conference.
- Due to the 1982 strike-shortened season, the league was broken up into two conferences instead of its normal divisional alignment.
- This game included The Drive, where quarterback John Elway led the Broncos on a 98-yard drive to tie the game with less than a minute left.
- The strike of 1987 reduced the regular season schedule from sixteen to fifteen games.
- This game included The Fumble, where Cleveland Browns' running back Earnest Byner fumbled at the Broncos' 3-yard line, enabling the Broncos to win the game.
- "NFL – History – Yearly Standings (click the drop down box for yearly standings)". NFL. Retrieved January 15, 2008.
- "Denver Broncos – History". CBS. Retrieved August 18, 2008.
- "Denver Broncos Franchise Encyclopedia". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved April 28, 2008.
- "Denver Broncos History". Football @ JT-SW.com. John Troan. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- "Denver Broncos". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 9, 2008.
- "John Elway". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 17, 2008.
- "Denver Broncos Franchise Encyclopedia". Sports Reference. Retrieved April 28, 2008.
- "The AFL: A Football Legacy". Sports Illustrated. January 22, 2001. Retrieved July 10, 2008.
- "HISTORY 1981–1990". NFL.com. Retrieved July 10, 2008.
- "Pro Football Hall of Fame – The Drive". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 13, 2008.