By: Omar Soussi
The Denver Broncos went from an offensive powerhouse in 2014 to a defensive juggernaut in 2015, resulting in a Super Bowl victory for the team. After the win, the team proceeded to lose a lot of key players toward free agency and retirement, including quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, linebacker Danny Trevathan, defensive lineman Malik Jackson and other key players as well.
The team feels like it’s in a rebuilding phase as the starting quarterback of the team is Mark Sanchez and they’re waiting for their quarterback of the future, Paxton Lynch, to be ready but there are reasons why this team could be a playoff contender.
1. This team is still loaded:
Free Agency was not kind to this team but it’s not like this team lost every talented player on their roster. Receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are both still on the team, Denver maintained most of their linebacking core which includes Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and this team still has the best corner trio in the league with Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby.
This team also improved on what was a weak point, their offensive line, adding Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson. This team is still very talented and can make up for their weakness at quarterback and speaking about Mr. Butt Fumble…
2: How bad the quarterback play was last year:
Peyton last year was awful, he had moments of brilliance but he was not the Manning this team had in 2013 when he threw for 55 touchdowns. Peyton threw 17 picks last year to only nine touchdown passes, he was leading the league in picks until the last game of the season and Manning missed six games last year.
Osweiler came in for Peyton and the team saw the offense do better but Osweiler didn’t set the world on fire when he played, throwing 10 touchdowns for six interceptions. Sanchez is not Manning in terms of ability to read a defense and figure out when not to force it but I honestly believe that Sanchez can be an effective game manager in Kubiak’s system.
The running game should exist this year and the defense should be able to at least maintain their top five status.
3: The AFC west is very much open for the taking:
The AFC west will extremely close as the Raiders and the Chiefs both look like they can compete for the division and the Chargers when they’re healthy can compete with any of these teams. I believe that this division will be similar to the NFC east where they’ll eat each other alive and 10-6 or even 9-7 could win the division. There’s no way you can completely count this team out.
This defense won them the Super Bowl and won them a lot of games last year when Manning and the offense couldn’t put up points. There are questions regarding if Talib will be the same player after shooting himself in the leg and if Miller will be motivated but I think the team already has the best motivation with many experts counting them out of making the playoffs.
However, this team could be a complete train wreck if Sanchez reverts back to his last two years in New York (which is likely) and if this defense takes a step back (which is also a likely scenario). This team is very much a boom or bust team and with how the NFL works, a team could go 12-4 and winning the Super Bowl to 4-12 and fighting for the first overall pick.