The Denver Broncos finished the 2012 season with a 13-3 record before losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
The Broncos had a very busy offseason, brining in Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker, guard Louis Vasquez, defensive tackle Terrence Knighton, cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Quentin Jammer, and pass rusher Shaun Phillips.
Denver lost its fair share of players this offseason as well, including defensive ends Elvis Dumervil and Jason Hunter, running back Willis McGahee, and wide receivers Brandon Stokley and Matt Willis.
In Peyton Manning’s second year in Denver, the expectations around this team are Super Bowl or bust. Here is Denver’s 2013-2014 season preview.
If Peyton Manning is your quarterback, you are going to have one of the best passing attacks in the league. He is one of the top two or three quarterbacks in the NFL, hands down.
Last season, Denver averaged 283.4 passing yards per game, which ranked 5th in the NFL. That number should be even higher in 2013 as Denver added Wes Welker to their
team, the best slot receiver in the NFL.
Welker joins the Broncos receiving core that is led by Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, two very solid NFL receivers. There isn’t a better three-man receiving group in the league better than Welker, Thomas and Decker. Throw tight ends Jacob Tamme and Joel Dressen into the mix (combined 93 receptions, 7 touchdowns in 2012), and it’s almost scary how many weapons Peyton Manning has to work with.
With Welker working the slot, Decker working the intermediate routes, and Thomas going deep, the Broncos should have a very versatile and effective passing attack in 2013.
With Willis McGahee out, Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball will battle it out for the starting running back job. Hillman is listed as the starter today, but that isn’t set in stone. Ball probably has more upside as a runner, but the job may come down to which back is better in pass protection. With Denver’s juggernaut of a passing offense, there should be a lot of holes to run through no matter which back gets the handoff.
Denver’s offensive line is good when healthy, and staying healthy is something the group has struggled to do. Center JD Walton is out with an ankle injury, his replacement Dan Koppen tore his ACL in training camp, left tackle Ryan Clady is recovering from shoulder surgery, and right tackle Orlando Franklin has been dealing with a hip injury during training camp.
The Broncos had one of the NFL’s better defenses last year, finishing 3rd in the league against both the pass and the run.
The Broncos defensive line, which is made up of Terrence Knighton, Robert Ayers, Derek Wolfe and Kevin Vickerson, should be very solid in 2013. Knighton is a pretty
versatile tackle, and he should take up blockers and help Denver’s pass rushers get pressure on the opposing QB.
The addition of pass rusher Shaun Phillips was one of the move underrated moves of the offseason. Phillips comes over from San Diego where he has had a successful career up to this point, including 9.5 sacks a year ago. Phillips will start in Von Millers position while Miller serves his 4-game suspension.
Nate Irving played sparingly in 2012, but is slotted to be the Broncos starting middle linebacker. His play will be crucial to this defenses success, as other teams may try to target him often on passing plays down the middle.
Adding Quentin Jammer and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the secondary was a good move for the Broncos, as they now have some real depth at the position. DRC and Champ Bailey will be the Broncos two starting CBs, with Jammer and Tony Carter as the slot CBs. Mike Adams and Rahim Moore play the two safety spots for the Broncos, and you’d have to believe Moore will be playing with a chip on his shoulder in 2013 after letting Jacoby Jones sneak behind him for the game tying TD in the playoffs last year.
2013 Prediction: 13-3
The Broncos should be one of the best teams in the NFL in 2013. Denver has arguably the best offense in the NFL led by Peyton Manning, and a defense that should be good again this season. Denver appears to be the class of the AFC West and should roll through a relatively easy schedule.
Wins: Baltimore, Oakland, Philadelphia, @Dallas, Jacksonville, Washington, @San Diego, Kansas City, @New England, Tennessee, San Diego, @Houston, @Oakland
Losses: @New York (Giants), @Indianapolis, @Kansas City