The Denver Broncos will be the topic of discussion as we begin winding-down our NFL 32 Team Previews. John Fox has had his team at the top of their division and in the Playoffs since being hired in 2011, which is exactly why they hired him. Fox led Denver to the best record in the Conference last season. Many think they’re the team that will be representing the AFC in this year’s Super Bowl. A career record of 94-82 (6-5 in Playoffs), John Fox lost a Super Bowl in 2003 with Carolina and would love to get some redemption.
Offense: The addition of Peyton Manning really helped Denver reach the 4th best Total Offense in the league. Manning had arguably the second best year of his career last season with 4,659 yards passing, 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Peyton is critical to the Offense playing well in 2013. The Offensive Line is going to have to protect him well, and Left Tackle Ryan Clady did that exceptionally for the Broncos last season. He only allowed 1 sack all year, earning a trip to his 3rd Pro Bowl. Clady reached a deal with the team to stay for another 5 years in the Offseason. At Left Guard beside Clady is another Pro Bowl player, Zane Beadles. Louis Vasquez was signed during Free Agency to play Right Guard. He’s a solid addition who is very rarely penalized and provides great help up front. Right Tackle will belong to Orlando Franklin who has started every game for the team since being drafted in 2011. The anchor at Center will be Dan Koppen. Dan filled in for an injury in 2012 and should do the same this year for J.D. Walton. Expecting another surgery on his ankle, Walton is considered to miss the upcoming season. Denver’s running game, ranked 16th, got a huge addition in the Draft with the selection of Montee Ball. He might not start out the season as the main back but, over time, he should become the top option. Ball rarely fumbles and is an excellent duel threat out of the backfield. The job to lose belongs to Ronnie Hillman as he enters his 2nd year as a pro. He’ll need to improve at his pass protection if he wants to keep the label as starter. Knowshon Moreno is a player who really needs to sneak in here and have an excellent season, salvaging what’s been a disastrous start to an NFL career. The two main targets at Tight End for the Broncos will be Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme. Dreessen had one of his best seasons during his first year with the Broncos, catching 5 touchdowns. Reunited with Peyton Manning was Tamme who quickly again became one of his preferred 3rd down targets. The players who will see the most attention throughout the season are Wide Receivers Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker. Welker was brought over in Free Agency. Five out of the last six years, Welker has caught over 100 passes in a season. Manning loves to get rid of the football quickly, so Welker should be a great addition. Demaryius Thomas is looking to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke, when he totaled 94 passes, 1,434 yards (29 plays for 20 yards or more), and 10 touchdowns so that he can solidify himself as one of the most dangerous players in the game at his position. Eric Decker has come a long way since Minnesota University, catching 85 passes with 13 touchdowns in 2012. This trio of receivers is going to be a pain for Defensive Backs to contain on GameDay. Trindon Holliday is a notable who usually just returns kicks, but is speedy enough to make plays with the ball in his hands on Offense. Denver has one of the best Offenses in the league. They shouldn’t have any problem dominating teams going through the 2013 season.
Defense: Von Miller is the face of this side of the ball, which ranked 2nd in the NFL. Miller had 18.5 sacks, with 6 forced fumbles last season, giving him 30 since being drafted in 2011. Von was also responsible for 14 tackles for loss as well, which was a team high. The other starting Outside Linebacker for the squad is Wesley Woodyard. He led the team in tackles last season with 117 total, 5.5 sacks and 3 interceptions, only starting 14 games. Nate Irving is going into his first full season as a starter at Middle Linebacker. A 3-year pro out of North Carolina State, Irving will be called upon to take over. Shaun Phillips is a notable Linebacker who came over from rival San Diego and registered 69.5 sacks over his 9 years there. Defensive End Derek Wolfe played very well for the Broncos, racking up 6 sacks in his rookie year. The franchise expects the same, if not better, production out of him this coming season. Robert Ayers plays at the other End spot but never lived up to being selected 18th overall by the team in 2009. A first round pick from this season, Defensive Tackle, Sylvester Williams out of North Carolina, is looking to be a disruptive force immediately. There were questions if he had the wherewithal to dominate consistently in the league. He’s stepping into a great situation so, hopefully, he’ll live up to expectations. Kevin Vickerson put up 2 sacks last season and will get the nod as the other starting Defensive Tackle. Champ Bailey, the most well known member of the Secondary, is going into his 15th year as one of the best Cornerbacks the game has to offer. Some speculate this might be his last before retiring. Champ has intercepted 52 passes in his career and would love to complete his resume by holding up the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was brought over during Free Agency to head up the other starting Cornerback spot. Rodgers-Cromartie is looking to build off of 3 interceptions from last season with the Eagles and establish himself as one of the better players at his position once again. Tied for the team lead in passes deflected was Tony Carter and Chris Harris with 12. They’ll be battling for playing time as the reserves, and are great depth for teams who are deep at Wide Receiver. Quentin Jammer was notably signed during the Offseason as well. The Free Safety job is a competition between Rahim Moore (who some fans still feel is responsible for losing against the Ravens in the Playoffs) and Mike Adams. Adams deflected 11 passes with 80 total tackles in 2012. Strong Safety is a job that looks to belong to Quinton Carter who missed most of last season due to a knee injury. Denver has one of the better pass rushes in the league. With the pressure they put on the Quarterback, the Secondary should make a lot of plays throughout next season.
End Result: I think Denver wins the Division going 11-5.