DENVER (CBS4)- The Denver Broncos kick off their 2021 season on Sunday, September 12 against the New York Giants. Entering a new season, there will always be a sense of optimism about what a team can do, but this is particularly true for the Broncos because of one big difference from last season: the health of the team.

Von Miller and Kyle Fuller of the Broncos stand in the bench area during an NFL preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams at Empower Field at Mile High on Saturday. (credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

With the preseason and training camp behind them, the Broncos have all 22 expected starters healthy and ready to go for their first game which is a far cry from last season when soft tissue injuries limited many players. That trend continued throughout the 2020 season as the Broncos were among the teams with the most games lost to injury in the league.

The twitter account @ManGamesLostNFL, compiled a data visualization at the end of last regular season and the Broncos can be seen behind only the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles in terms of number of games lost to injury last season.

Those injuries were to key pieces too, especially on defense. Von Miller was lost for the year before playing in a game. Jurrell Casey, brought in to solidify the interior of the defensive line, played in just three games. Mike Purcell was then lost for the season after six games.

Injuries, on a year-to-year basis, tend to average out so it would seem likely that the team will experience fewer games lost to injury this year. The roster is also one of the younger ones in the league with an average age of 25.6, which doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be less injured but does mean there’s less wear and tear on the bodies of their players that could allow them to be healthier.

If there is one area of concern entering Week 1, it would be at the cornerback spot where the team has placed Michael Ojemudia on IR and Essang Bassey and Duke Dawson Jr. were both placed on the IR/PUP (physically unable to perform) list. That leaves five corners on the depth chart which is good depth to start but, one or two more injuries and things get dicey.

According the ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Broncos have about a 40% chance of making the playoffs this season with a projected record of 8.7-8.2 or about 9-8 in the new 17-game format. The Broncos have one of the league’s easiest schedules based on last year’s record and staying healthy could allow them to make a playoff push for the first time since winning the Super Bowl in 2015.

The Broncos will begin the 2021 season on Sunday, Sept. 12 when they visit the New York Giants.