Behind enemy lines: Denver Broncos


Nov 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson (94) during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Broncos won 29-16. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Hey Chiefs fans, thanks once again for joining me on this Saturday as we continue to cover what has been going on with our AFC West opponents. We’ve covered the Raiders and Chargers so far and by judging their off-season moves both teams should be improved.

Today we will discuss a team that I personally loathe the most which is the Denver Broncos. The Broncos have been the darling of the AFC West for the past 3 years and I think I can speak for everyone in saying we’ve had enough. This off-season hasn’t been nearly as busy as the previous one  where the Broncos attempted to revamp their defense to put them in a better position to win a Super Bowl after being thumped by the Seahawks. Not only did they not win the Super Bowl but they didn’t even make it to the big game. This off-season Denver lost more talent than they gained on paper .

What they did in free agency:

Good football teams don’t generally have to spend much in free agency and as you can see here there are really no flashy names. The best player from a production point of view is Owen Daniels who will replace the talented Julius Thomas.  Daniels was rated a negative .3 overall by Pro Football Focus which ranked him 29th in the league. His worst grading was at run blocking where scored a negative 3.5 overall for the season. The Broncos lost a lot more talent than they gain in the 2015 free agency. With names like Julius Thomas, Terrance Knighton, and Orlando Franklin departing from Denver the team is hoping and praying that the holes can be filled by one of these free agents or depth players.

Denver is coming off a 12-4 season where they ranked 4th in points scored, 4th in passing, and 15th in rushing. When your worst area on offense ranks you in the middle of the league you’re in pretty good shape. On defense, the team ranked 4th in total defense, 2nd in rushing yards allowed, and 9th in passing yards allowed yet ended up ranking 16th in the league in scoring. Losing Knighton is going to be a crushing blow to the team’s run defense as he was 9th highest scored player in the defensive tackle/nose tackle position against the run by PFF at a positive 11.2.

Who They Drafted In 2015:

I was in a sports bar in Austin, TX watching the draft and let out a “NOOO” when the Broncos traded up in the first round and the draft pick was announced. This was tearing me in 2 areas as I’m a die hard Tigers fan and also hated Denver getting another dangerous pass rusher on that defense in Shane Ray. Most of you in the Midwest have seen this kid play and if you haven’t you’ll see a death montage below but you have to be a little concerned when some analysts compare him to Bruce Irvin.

The team was really excited about what Jeff Heuerman’s role in the offense would be this season but those feelings would go away very quickly as they lost the tight end  to an acl injury in rookie training camp. Many expect 2nd round pick offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo to contribute immediately and fill a hole on the offensive line. Away from that we will see how the rest of the picks pan out as not many analysts graded Denver at an A with these picks. So how will this team do on this upcoming schedule?

Broncos Schedule:

  • Ravens
  • @Chiefs
  • @Lions
  • Vikings
  • @Raiders
  • @Browns
  • Packers
  • @Colts
  • Chiefs
  • @Bears
  • Patriots
  • @Chargers
  • Raiders
  • @Steelers
  • Bengals
  • Chargers

I don’t see this team winning 12 games again, that doesn’t mean they won’t but with the lost talent and having the 10th toughest schedule in the league on paper it’s a lot to ask them to do again. The Broncos had better be ready to go on the season opener or they could potentially lose 2 or 3 of their first 4 games. A strong start may be required for another playoff push because when they get to the 7th week of the season, 5 of the next 6 games are all dangerous opponents for the Broncos. Packers in Denver, @Colts, Chiefs in Denver, @Bears, Patriots in Denver and @Chargers. What a stretch! I think 11 is their ceiling but could easily see this team only winning 10 games especially if they face any injury trouble.

This makes for a strong case that 3 teams could be heading to the post season and the race for the AFC West will be as tight as it’s ever been. Every team in this division has shortened the gap with the Denver.