Peyton Manning is approaching his 17th NFL season as one of the greatest QBs to ever grace a football field. He and his Denver Broncos are coming off a great regular season that saw offensive records broken as opposing defenses were unable to deal with Manning and his talented receivers. Unfortunately for Denver, they ended the season getting trounced in the Super Bowl by the defensive minded Seattle Seahawks. That really sucked for the team along with their fans, but it was not the first time that an offensive juggernaut ran through the regular season with ease then got whipped in the big game at the end. It will not be the last time it happens either. Defense really does win championships, even now as the NFL makes more rules outlawing basic tackling.
The Broncos did not hesitate to try and get better in the free agent market this off season. They had a few needs on defense as was shown in the Super Bowl. The offense did not need much help since they basically destroyed every defense they faced, with the exception of the Pete Carroll led Seahawks when it counted most. John Elway was fearless as a player and showed the same qualities as the GM of the Broncos, as he signed some great free agents for his team. To improve the defensive backfield, he went out and got Aqib Talib from the Patriots and TJ Ward who left Cleveland. Talib is a top three corner in the NFL and has the size to match up with even the biggest receivers in the league. Ward is not as big of a name as some other defensive backs, but he has been a solid safety for the Browns the last couple of seasons. With Champ Bailey being released, they needed to make a move like this and they certainly could not have done better than the combo they signed. Let’s not forget the acquisition of DeMarcus Ware as an extra pass rusher to help Von Miller out. Ware is a veteran QB hunter and truly has something left in the tank.
On offense, the best free agent they ended up with is Emmanuel Sanders. He played well for Pittsburgh the past four years, and really had a nice 2013 season. He ended up with 67 catches and six touchdowns. I imagine that being hooked up with Peyton Manning could raise his stats by at least 10% if he adapts to Denver’s system quickly. Sanders will try to replace Eric Decker, who left the team to head up to the NY Jets as a free agent. Decker will be missed along with his 85+ catches in each of the past two seasons. Those numbers have Peyton Manning written all over them though. Decker may catch 50 balls in New York if he is lucky, while Sanders’ improved stats will be directly related to his new QB.
The Broncos have been at the door of a Super Bowl title in the past two years. They got knocked out on a fluke Hail Mary against the Ravens in 2012 and ran up against a well-oiled machine versus Seattle in 2013. They have improved their team overall, especially on defense. Whether it will be enough to get over the hump remains to be seen. It depends on many factors; with the main one being the opponent in the Super Bowl should they get back there. If last year’s game was against any other team, the Broncos win going away.
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