AFC WEST: Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning had a strong campaign in his first season in Denver. The Broncos were the number 1 seed in the AFC last season, and they addressed several needs this offseason which should push them to an even higher level.
Wes Welker is the most obvious impact signing. His ability to stay healthy and produce on such a regular basis is something that Peyton Manning will cherish.
May 20, 2013; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker (83) talks to teammates Demaryius Thomas (88) and Eric Decker (87) during organized team activities at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Adding in the size/speed combo of Demaryius Thomas is almost unfair, and Eric Decker has shown he can get open and make plays while teams focus on Thomas. Decker and Thomas was already a dangerous pairing, and Welker should take coverage off of these two and open things up for Manning.
Denver also drafted Montee Ball out of Wisconsin to fill Willis McGahee’s empty locker. Ball doesn’t need to have a Pro Bowl season for this offense to succeed, but a stronger run game would make a top offense even better.
The only real loss for the Broncos this offseason was Elvis Dumervil signing with Baltimore, but I don’t think Denver will miss a beat on defense. They picked up Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who will play opposite a perennial Pro Bowl corner in Champ Bailey. Denver used its first-round pick on DT Sylvester Williams, which brings even more youth to the D-line.
Von Miller has been incredible in his first two seasons. If he can avoid a suspension, he has a great shot at Defensive Player of the Year. Last season the Broncos finished 3rd in rushing defense and 3rd in passing defense, and lead the league in total sacks. I would imagine they have similar numbers this season.
There is very little contest in the AFC West this year, and I would bet that the Broncos are the only team to make the playoffs from that division.