Denver Broncos 2014-2015 Season Preview

Offseason Storylines

The Denver Broncos’ offense is coming off of the best statistical season in the history of NFL. The Broncos were great because Peyton Manning posted the greatest season for a quarterback in NFL history. Although they had the best offense in history, they were physically abused during the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. Along with Manning’s success, he was surrounded by an elite offensive line, talented wide receivers, and a quality running back. Although the Broncos’ offense should be stacked this season, they lost a few pieces during the offseason. Manning will be without his second wide receiver, Eric Decker, running back, Knowshon Moreno, and possibly slot receiver, Wes Welker, if he can not return from his concussion injury. Although they lost solid players, they will still have a do it all running back in Montee Ball and solid receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer. The two young receivers and the returning stars should keep the Broncos as the best offense in the league and lead the Broncos into the playoffs.

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While the Broncos were solely praised for their offensive skill, they possessed an above average defense. Similar to the offense, the Broncos’ defense was exposed for its lack of physicality against the Seahawks. Although the Broncos did not have a lot of cap room this offseason, they were able to enhance their secondary and pass rushing ability. Through the draft and free agency, the Broncos were able to add Bradley Roby, former Patriot corner Aqib Talib, former All-Pro DeMarcus Ware, and physical safety TJ Ward. Although the foursome has dealt with injuries throughout their career, they are coming into the season healthy and should make a positive impact on the Broncos. With Roby and Talib in the secondary, the secondary possess one of the most talented, but raw corners in the league. Along with the flashy corners that will force turnovers, the Broncos will return stud defensive end Von Miller alongside of former All-Pro outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

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Offensive X-Factor

In order for the Broncos to maintain their status as the one of the best offenses in history, Denver will need one of their young receivers to step up and become legitimate threats on the outside. Even without the injury to Wes Welker, the Broncos needed to replace Eric Decker, who has been one of the most consistent wide receivers the last few seasons. With the head injury to Welker, the Broncos do not know if he will return or if he will be the same player when he comes back to the field. The Broncos attempted to prepare for the departure of Decker with the addition of Latimer and Sanders. Over the past few seasons, Sanders has steadily improved as a receiver while he has moved up the ranks as part of the Steelers’ offense. Unlike Latimer, Sanders has experience playing in a pass happy offense, played in numerous big games, and caught passes from a star quarterback. ¬†Along with the talent of Sanders, many believe that Cody Latimer has a great chance of becoming a solid number 2 on a championship caliber team. During his years at Indiana, Latimer quietly posted great stats with a below average supporting cast.

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Defensive X-Factor

The defensive X-Factor for the Broncos this season will be DeMarcus Ware. The former Cowboys’ legend and All-Pro has been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL over the pas decade. For the first time in his career, Ware did not play 16 games and it resulted in the lowest sack total in his career, 6. Before last season, Ware had a streak of 7 straight seasons in which he recorded at least 11 sacks. Ware will have the opportunity to regain his sack numbers as he will play opposite of Von Miller. Although Miller is coming off a bad knee injury, he is still one of the best pass rushers in the league. Due to his age and skill, many teams will opt to double team Miller, which will leave Ware one on one for the first time in his career. Last season, only one Bronco totaled double digit sack numbers, Shaun Phillips. The lack of pressure on opposing quarterback made Denver one of the worst teams against the pass. Ware should provide consistent pressure on quarterbacks and add physicality to a defense that needs improvement.

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Projections

The Broncos have won the AFC West the past two seasons and are predicted to remain the top team. As long as Peyton Manning is the quarterback of the Broncos, they will be contenders to win the conference. On offense, the unit should remain the best in the league because they have too many weapons for opposing defenses. Whether it is Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, or Montee Ball, they have the ability to break big plays and score 6 points. Last season, the offense averaged 38 points per game, 10 more than any other team in the league. Although it is unlikely that they will repeat their historic season and Manning will break every passing quarterback record in NFL history, the offense should post 30-35 points per game. Although the offense is set to take a step backward, the defense should become more than an average defense. Although a lot of their stats are inflated because of their great offense, their defense should be an above average defense. If the Broncos are going to win the Super Bowl this season, the Broncos need to play with physicality and convert turnovers like the current Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

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Record: 13-3

First in AFC West

Fantasy Pick

Last season, Knowshon Moreno took the fantasy world by storm when he finished fifth among running backs. The replacement for Moreno will be Montee Ball. Many expect that Ball has a chance to be a top ten running back because he has more talent than Moreno. If Ball can learn to block for Peyton Manning, he will stay on the field for 85% of the plays and take almost all of the touches. Along with running opportunities, the former Wisconsin Badger star can catch the ball out of the backfield.