2014 NFL Power Rankings Countdown
2. Denver Broncos (AFC West)
2013 Record: 13-3
Head coach: John Fox – Fox has guided the Broncos to three straight AFC West titles. And once the Broncos acquired quarterback Peyton Manning they have become annual super bowl contenders with two straight 13-3 records. However, the Broncos have suffered disappointments in the playoffs the past few seasons, especially the blowout loss in the Super Bowl to the Seattle Seahawks last season. So Fox still has to find the missing ingredient to improve the Broncos enough to get over that final hump.
Best offensive player: Peyton Manning, quarterback – Manning runs his offense like a machine. It’s precise execution and fast pace make it hard for NFL defenses to handle, and no one runs it better than Manning. The only question is for how much longer does he want to do it? After sixteen seasons and nearly 65,000 passing yards, it seems that Manning wants to try to break Brett Favre’s passing yards and touchdown pass records and win at least one more Super Bowl. NFL Power Rankings
Best defensive player: Von Miller, outside linebacker – Miller’s production dropped off last season mainly due to his six game suspension by the NFL. Miller never really got going in 2013 collecting only 5 sacks in nine games. However, Miller is still one of the best pass rushers in the league, and might be in store for a big season this year.
Rising Star: Julius Thomas, tight end – Thomas burst onto the scene in 2013 and emerged as a top weapon in Peyton Manning’s offense. His size and athleticism from the tight end position gives him a huge advantage in attacking defenses. Thomas had 65 receptions for 788 yards and an outstanding 12 TD’s. Thomas was selected to the pro bowl last season and that may be the first of many.
Best new addition: T.J. Ward, strong safety – The Broncos secondary has been a weak spot for them over the past few seasons, but the signing of Ward, one of the top free agent safeties on the market should be huge upgrade for them. And will definitely help them upgrade their weak pass defense, which among worst in the league last year as well as strengthen their run defense. NFL Power Rankings
Biggest offseason loss: Eric Decker, wide receiver – The Broncos have other receivers that could step in for Decker like the newly signed Emmanuel Sanders, but they probably won’t be able to quite duplicate his production in the offense. Decker left the Broncos in free agency and his asking price was a little too steep for the Broncos. They should be fine, but losing a player like Eric Decker will still be felt by the Broncos.
Biggest strength: The Broncos biggest strength is Peyton Manning. With Manning at quarterback the Broncos are super bowl contenders and they are capable of beating any team. Manning’s presence gives the Broncos the inside track to winning a fourth straight AFC West title. NFL Power Rankings
Biggest weakness: The Broncos biggest weakness is their pass defense. One of the major reason the Broncos get passed on so much is that they are often so far ahead of teams that they give up a lot of passing yards. However, they still weren’t very good in close games either. But the acquisition of not only T.J. Ward, but also cornerback Aqib Talib, and defensive end Demarcus Ware should help the Broncos improve in this area.