Broncos eager to return to Empower Field, re-establish home-field advantage against Jets: “We have to go win at home — it’s as simple as that.”

In Teddy Bridgewater’s lone start in Denver in October 2015, the quarterback was sacked seven times in front of a raucous orange crowd as the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos beat the Vikings by a field goal.

Now, Bridgewater is hoping that same rude reception greets rookie QB Zach Wilson and the Jets on Sunday afternoon. The Broncos’ 2021 home opener will be a sellout, with 76,125 frenzied fans expected to pack Empower Field for the team’s first full-capacity regular-season game since 2019.

“It was loud, and on third downs you just had to buckle down and try to block out the noise,” Bridgewater recalled. “Hopefully, we can make the Jets feel what I felt in 2015.”

The Broncos are double-digit favorites against winless New York, but their home field hasn’t been much of an advantage in recent years. Denver’s 19-21 at home over the past five seasons, a .475 winning percentage tied for fifth-worst in the NFL.

So the Broncos know they can’t overlook the Jets, and Sunday is another must-win for a team needing to take advantage of a soft September schedule. The last time Denver was this big of a favorite, the Broncos lost 23-10 to the Giants at home in October 2017 despite New York (13.5-point underdogs) being winless heading into the game.

Fangio, 7-9 at home over the past two seasons and 0-4 at Mile High in September, is eager to give Broncos Country the opening-day win it’s been waiting for.

“We have to go win at home — it’s as simple as that,” Fangio said. “This fan base is very, very enthusiastic. I’ve been in some of the best fan bases — Chicago, San Francisco, I grew up in the Philadelphia area. (Broncos Country) is right there with them, if not better as fans, I think. They love the Broncos, and we have to give them what they’re hungry for.”

As for the Broncos players, defensive end Shelby Harris said he wants the team “to keep that (2-0 talk) on the low.”

“We don’t need anybody to know that,” Harris said. “We’re going to keep that quiet confidence to ourselves and just go out there every week and just put on the 1-0 mindset every week. We don’t need the headlines; we don’t need any of that stuff. We just go out there, go to work, and let our play do the talking.”

Like Harris, team captains Teddy Bridgewater and Justin Simmons emphasized the Broncos can’t get distracted after road wins over the Giants and Jaguars to begin the season.

Bridgewater offered the caution of “don’t take the cheese — it’s rat poison,” while Simmons views Week 3 as another opportunity to springboard a secondary that had two interceptions last week. Wilson is coming off a nightmarish four-pick game against New England.

“The mentality for us is we don’t want to be the team that gets (Wilson) out of his slump,” Simmons said. “The biggest thing for us is we want to make sure we’re asserting dominance. We’re back on our home field. The crowd is going to be there. It’s going to be electric, and we want to definitely give our fans a show on Sunday.”

Von Miller expects the crowd to be “crazy and ridiculous, like the glory days in 2012 through 2015.”

“We’re coming in 2-0, and Broncos County has seen the type of football we’ve played over the last two weeks,” Miller said. “I expect it to be rowdy and a great football environment.”

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur paid the home crowd a compliment ahead of time, noting how Broncos Country knows when to amp up and when to calm down in order to let Bridgewater & Co. go to work.

“They’re  a very educated fan base — they know how to let us hear a pin drop when we’re on offense, but then crank it up when (the Jets) are on defense,” Shurmur said. “I’m looking forward to our fans putting a little pressure on them.”

Sunday’s kickoff is at 2:05 p.m., but the Broncos are encouraging fans to arrive well ahead of kickoff in order to avoid long lines getting into the stadium. Parking lots open at 9:30 a.m. and the gates open at noon. The team recommends fans enter the stadium before 1 p.m.

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