Found June 19, 2013 on Football and Futbol:
PLAYERS: Peyton Manning
TEAMS: Denver Broncos
  Thanks to the Denver Broncos the AFC West is back on the map.   Prior to Peyton’s arrival, this division was in a battle with the NFC West on worst in the NFL.  The Chargers seemed to win by default, or as Charger fans will contest, if they didn’t win the division they would lose it in a glorious display of futility.  The Raiders have a great supporting nation but the team hasn’t performed since the Super Bowl team that included Rich Gannon and Jerry Rice.  The Kansas City Chiefs are the team that is becoming known as the location for high potential quarterbacks with limited levels of success to go to die.  The teams in this division are always full of promise, which they have not lived up to regularly, but last year Denver upped the ante for this division and brought in Peyton Manning.   2013 brings an excitement level to Bronco fans everywhere and with good reason.  Peyton Manning has a full season under his belt and proved the majority of his naysayers wrong in 2012.  The Broncos have a solid team with an explosive offence that only got stronger this off season as they managed to bring in Wes Welker from New England Patriots, they have a top notch defense and a reliable special teams group.   Quarterback: No question that Peyton returned to active duty with a lot of questions but he proved a lot of people that he is in great shape and found a nice fit for his new home.  Peyton put up 4,659 passing yards and 37 TD’s last year – his 2nd best performance of his career and that was with a group of players he had no initial chemistry amongst.  Manning’s arm strength did seem to fail him late in the season but that was to be expected.  Peyton is not risk free by any means, so the back up for Denver needs to be a sponge and ready to go if the unthinkable happens.  This would be the area of highest concern for Broncos’ fans as the expected back up is Brock Osweiler, whom has very limited NFL experience but is touted as the clubs QB of the future.   Running Backs: With the recent release of Willis McGahee, the Broncos have made it clear that they are invested in rookie Montee Ball, whom they drafted in the 2nd round out of Wisconsin.  Fantasy Football fans will be watching Ball closely as he could be a points making machine for both the Broncos and your fantasy team.  Knowshon Moreno is coming off of knee surgery and depending on his recovery will determine if he will lose the backup role to Ronnie Hillman, who showed his ability to be an effective pass blocking back but wasn’t exactly praised by Coach Fox last year when he described Hillman as “capable”.   Wide Receivers: This group of receivers is reminiscence of the core group Peyton had in Indianapolis.  He has a strong deep threat in Demaryious Thomas (Reggie Wayne), a reliable secondary wide out in Eric Decker (Marvin Harrison), a highly effective, quick hitting, slot receiver in Wes Welker (Brandon Stokely) and the only position that isn’t quite the same, as it is tough to find a Dallas Clark, at tight end they have two reliable players in Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme.  Welker’s arrival has definitely created the most buzz as he will be expected to make an immediate impact with this offence.  With Thomas, Decker and Welker the Broncos have 3 receivers that posted over a 1,000 yards receiving last season and only Welker was unable to hit double digits in TD’s.   This should be an exciting and explosive unit to watch.   In the Trenches: The key to the offense doing anything in Denver this season are the big boys upfront.  Blocking for Peyton almost appears to require a master’s degree with all that audibles, blocking scheme adjustments and hot reads he makes pre-snap.  It is fair to say that experience with Peyton is what strengthens the lines ability to perform above their basic talents.  With that said the outlook is questionable at the moment with this group as the center JD Walton is sidelined until late October after undergoing left ankle surgery, as reported by the Denver Post on Wednesday, and Ryan Clady has yet to sign the franchise tag tender and is skipping mandatory minicamp in an attempt to get an longer term deal.   The Defensive line will have to produce without their opponent’s primary focus being on stopping Elvis Dumervil.  Although a respectable front 4, the average football fan is not looking at household names when checking out the depth chart of the Broncos D-line.  However, the potential of Derek Wolfe and Sylvester Williams is very high and could surprise a few teams this year.  They have a steady veteran in Kevin Vickerson and they added Terrance Knighton, who is a quality run stopper.   Linebackers: The loss of outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil does not help the strength of this line backing core but we will see if the loss is going to be as detrimental as some may initially expect.  Von Miller is the stud that leads this group and if he can repeat or grow off of his performance last year, the debate will no longer be if he is in the top 10 linebackers in the NFL but where he ranks in the Top 5.  Joe Mays (only played 6 games in 2012) and Wesley Woodyard are expected to be beside Miller on opening day and are both reliable 6 year pros.  The overall numbers aren’t flashy but they are consistent and Woodyard is coming off his career best in tackles, sacks and interceptions.  The addition of Shaun Phillips from their division rivals, the Chargers, isn’t going to hurt this group either.   Secondary: The depth at cornerback this season is strong for the Broncos.  The long time shutdown corner Chap Bailey returns with a supporting cast that now includes Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and another ex-Charger Quentin Jammer.  Add in to the mix the 3rd round draft pick of Kayvon Webster and you have a group of corners that could shut down a lot of the leagues passing games without an effective pass rush.  At Safety, Rahim Moore is out to show he has put last year’s playoff performance behind him and is ready to be a strong force in their secondary.  Beside Moore will be Quinton Carter another 3rd year player that is still out to show his true worth to an already loaded secondary.   Special Teams: Kicker Matt Prater has a leg that loves the mile high air and has a consistency that puts his teammates at ease when he lines up.  Punting isn’t something Denver fans expect to see a lot of this year but on those rare drives that they falter they have a steady punter in Britton Colquitt.  The kick and punt return duties are likely to be handled by Trindon Holliday, who played only 10 games for the Broncos last season but, he was able to return both a punt and kickoff to the house in limited attempts over those games.   Prediction: Broncos win the AFC West and will be battling for home field advantage throughout the playoffs

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