Denver BroncosRead the introduction here
Read the Steelers preview here
Houston Texans tomorrow
2011 Record: 8-8
Key Acquisitions: Mike Adams, Justin Bannan, Andre Caldwell, Drayton Florence, PEYTON MANNING (sorry for my outburst), Tracy Porter, Brandon Stokley, Jacob Tamme, Derek Wolfe
Key Departures: Brodrick Bunkley, Brian Dawkins, Andre Goodman, Mario Haggan, Spencer Larsen, Ryan McBean, Eddie Royal, Tim Tebow
On March 20, 2012, the batteries fell out of the clock and Tebow Time ended. The most famous bad quarterback in the history of history left, and was replaced by the best quarterback of all time. The G.O.A.T! Peyton Manning switched his uniform color for the first time since 1998, going back to the orange that was so familiar to him at Tennessee. The era has begun. Around him is basically the same average team that rode on Tim Tebow's coattails to the playoffs last season. The offense around Manning isn't great, and the defense is fine. They won a playoff game with Tebow, and if they don't at least make it back there in 2012 with Tebow x48954458686787658902476524309187578942043765754321423678908765432456789087, it's a disappointment. Peyton Manning is an automatic 10 wins, and has always been throughout his career.
Peyton Manning will not play like the Peyton Manning of old. That guy is gone. He's in Indianapolis and he hasn't had any neck surgeries yet. Four neck surgeries later, out comes a diminished version of what he used to be. He still has the ability to read defense like the old Peyton Manning, but physically, it's going to be tough to recapture what he had. I don't however expect him to miss any games due to injury. If the doctors though he could get re-injured, he would not have been cleared to play. He'll be above average.
I don't trust either running back to show any consistency at all this season. Willis McGahee carried the load pretty well in the absence of Knowshon Moreno, but McGahee was seemingly done before that. He wasn't very good in his final year in Baltimore, so 2011 could have been an anomaly. He's been up and down for a few years now. Moreno, just isn't very reliable. He hasn't been very good either.
Demaryius Thomas is the real threat on this offense. He's the guy to worry about because of his ability to get separation. He also has pretty good size. Eric Decker isn't going to help Peyton Manning very much because he had stone hands at times last year. While he had a stretch of very good games, he dropped quite a few balls. Andre Caldwell was fine in 2010, but had a terrible 2011 season. Brandon Stokley reunites with Manning, and while he's old, he has previous experience (and pretty good chemistry) with #18 and his hands make him an asset.
Jacob Tamme comes over from Indy to join Manning on his comeback tour. Tamme is a seemingly average tight end who was really elevated by Peyton Manning's ability. I don't think he's great, but he'll be above average. Being that the guy throwing him the ball is more Peyton Manning than PEYTON MANNING, he's not going to look like a Pro Bowler. But since that guy's name is still Peyton Manning, Tamme will look better than he should.
The offensive line, oh boy is this a disaster. Ryan Clady has been pretty over the past few years after he was considered to be the best offensive lineman in the NFL. The rest of the guys are a disappointing group of guys who will get Peyton Manning killed. They have looked good during the preseason so far, so they could have improved as a unit. Judging based on past performance, I think Manning should have gone to the Jets and away from this offensive line. You know, because I'm a Jets fan. Love of the Jets aside, he should have run far away from Denver.
The loss of Brodrick Bunkley will definitely hurt this defensive line. He was a monster against the run, and Justin Bannan will have to take his spot, a situation in which nobody is a winner. Rookie Derek Wolfe will have a grand ole time rushing the QB, and could be the major factor in this team's pass rush. While Wolfe takes up space in the middle, that leaves room for Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller to roam. Said all opposing QBs: "NO!" Both also have shown the versatility to play both defensive end and linebacker.
D.J. Williams is serving a six game suspension to begin the year, and that could prove to be a major blow to this defense. Joe Mays and Nate Irving aren't the most trustworthy guys at the middle linebacker positions. Old man Keith Brooking is on this team. He's not going to do much at all.
Champ Bailey has recently been overlooked as a shutdown cornerback due to the attention that Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha have receivers, but Bailey does it year after year. He never seems to stop annoying opposing receivers. Tracy Porter is on the opposite side of him, and he was atrocious last year. The safeties are really bad. Mike Adams hasn't been very good throughout his career, but he isn't a complete disaster.
Both Matt Prater and Britton Colquitt put together fantastic seasons last year, which leads me to believe that this year's special teams unit will be very productive. Eddie Royal is gone, and they haven't found themselves a kick returner to take his place.
10-6, T-1st in AFC West