Denver Broncos 13-3
Last Season’s Rankings: #1 Overall Offense (457.3 total yards per game) #1 Passing Offense (340.3 passing yards per game) #15 Rushing Offense (117.1 rushing yards per game)
After one of the most dominating NFL offensive performances last season, the Broncos are locked and loaded for yet another season. Of course they aren’t in any position to go out and break records like they did last year, but they still have a fighting chance. Last season for Manning and the Broncos has been one of epic proportions, breaking records left and right (most yards passing, most points scored, most passing touchdowns and the most amount of receivers with 10+ touchdowns are some of the records that Manning and the Broncos broke last season) and winning his NFL record 5th MVP award in his Hall-of-Fame career. Where Manning has been blessed more than most QBs has been 1). his awesome offensive line that has allowed only 20.0 sacks this season (least amount in the entire league) 2). solid running game with Knowshon Moreno (1,038 yards, 10 touchdowns) and rookie Montee Ball (559 yards, 4.7 yards per carry and 4 touchdowns) and most importantly 3). an elite receiving corps consisting of powerful Demaryius Thomas (1,430 yards, 14 touchdowns), sure-handed Wes Welker (778 yards, 10 touchdowns), bruiser Julius Thomas (788 yards, 12 touchdowns) and streaker Eric Decker (1,288 yards, 11 touchdowns). Together all of these four receivers have combined to made one of the best receiving corps in the history of the NFL.
One reason why Manning and Denver were in fact so successful was because of Manning’s explosive receiving corps in WRs Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and TE Julius Thomas. The Broncos had RBs Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball to provide help with HB Delays and stretch runs, however the majority of the Bronco’s offensive firepower came from the Broncos passing game. This season, the Broncos lost two key offensive players in WR Eric Decker and RB Knowshon Moreno. Moreno was a beast last season with a solid amount of the rushing load, however I think Montee Ball has a good ability to take over as the starting RB and make some games interesting. Although the 2nd round pick didn’t get the amount of carries he would have liked (considering he was the starter at Wisconsin), he played like an outstanding #2 back, pass-blocking for Peyton Manning, adding key receiving yards out of the backfield along with some much needed help with Knowshon Moreno and the Broncos running game. Last season, Ball’s 559 yards ranks 6th among rookies. What has prohibited Ball from getting the 1,000 yards he was used to getting as a Badger has been the equally-adequate Knowshon Moreno who has been a beast all season. I believe that this rookie has been underrated for most of the season despite playing for one of the best offenses in NFL history. At Wisconsin he rushed for 1,923 rushing yards and an FBS-record 33 touchdowns his Junior year. The next season he got downgraded to only 22 touchdowns, however he was still able to be a beast regardless, getting 1,830 yards on the ground. Ball is an absolutely fantastic runner, he’s fast and small and able to make cutbacks. Although he is young and still unproven I believe he steps it up, he could be big for the Broncos next season.
As well, the Broncos were able to add some key blockers on the offensive line in the draft and thus should have some stability in the rushing game. OT Michael Schofield as well as C Matt Paradis should give the Broncos some needed help on the offensive line. Without Chris Clarke, the Broncos would be without not only a starting right tackle, but also a back up left tackle. With Schofield backing up Clark, the Broncos can rest assured that Manning is protected. As for Decker, the Broncos added stud WR Cody Latimer out of the University of Indiana to replace him. At IU, Latimer was able to receive for 1,901 yards and 15 touchdowns on 123 receptions. While Latimer still has to prove himself worthy of the NFL, he can still add some depth at the WR position and help out Manning in his quest for that final super bowl.
Reason why I have the Broncos as the number one offense is simply because of Manning and their unstoppable passing game. Demaryius Thomas is one of the game’s youngest and most talented receivers. I expect him to lead the AFC next season in receiving yards, while Julius Thomas should come in as a big red zone threat and act as Manning’s security blanket. Obviously the losses of Decker and Moreno are big, however the Broncos still have lethal weapons in their other receivers. Emmanuel Sanders out of Pittsburgh should be yet another receiver who can make plays. Not to mention, their defense just added some key acquisitions in DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib whom should help out a Broncos’ defense that didn’t fare so well last season. Granted their offense was scoring 35 points per game, the Broncos did in fact allow 356 yards per game along with 24.9 points per game. With the added defensive help and rookie offensive additions, the Broncos aren’t guaranteed to surpass their previous year’s marks, however they should be able to come close. If Manning can come back from a near career-ending neck injury, he can most definitely overcome losing a WR and a RB.
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