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Denver Broncos 2016-17 NFL Team Preview

Denver Broncos 2016-17 NFL Team Preview


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2016-2017 Denver Broncos Team Preview

Key Additions: QB Mark Sanchez, OT Russell Okung, OT Donald Stephenson

Key Subtractions: QB Peyton Manning, QB Brock Osweiler, DE Malik Jackson, ILB Danny Trevathan, TE Owen Daniels, TE Vernon Davis, OT Ryan Clady, G Evan Mathis

Strengths

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The Denver Broncos wouldn’t be Super Bowl champions if not for their outstanding defense, as they were tops in the NFL in both average rushing and receiving yards allowed per contest.

Although notable contributors from last season in defensive lineman Malik Jackson and linebacker Danny Trevathan are no longer around, Denver still has a wealth of talent in all areas of its D. The Broncos arguably have the best pass-rushing tandem (Demarcus Ware and Von Miller) and the best shutdown-corner pairing (Aqib Talib and Chris Harris) in the league. They even have young, explosive defenders like Bradley Roby, Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett ready to fill in for the team’s seasoned veterans.

Weaknesses

Quarterback, obviously.

Sure, Peyton Manning won his second Super Bowl ring after having his worst season in the league since his rookie campaign, and Brock Osweiler didn’t really do enough to give him a ton of credit for Denver’s success last season, yet the Broncos still ended up as champions. But the NFL is still a quarterback-driven league, and the Broncos are really thin at this position with only Mark Sanchez and rookie Paxton Lynch as their options.

Both signal-callers will have the luxury of having two elite wideouts (Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders) flanked on both sides of the offense, but can Sanchez or Lynch really maximize their weapons downfield? It seems that a brunt of Denver’s production must once again come from its stout defense, or perhaps its running game. CJ Anderson was quite a godsend from the backfield late last season (a combined 402 rushing yards and four TDs from Week 16 up to the Super Bowl), but he’ll need to put up great numbers every week to make up for the team’s lack of a bona fide QB.

Key Player – Von Miller

The Broncos paid top dollar to keep their prized possession and Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller, to the tune of $114.5 million for six years — the most lucrative contract ever handed out by the franchise. Having said that, Miller should not rest on his laurels and must continue to be the highly-entertaining, one-man wrecking crew that he is, and also serve as the emotional leader once more for Denver’s defense.

Last year, Miller finished the regular season with 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and a career-high three fumble recoveries. He would save his best performance for last, as he ended up with six tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in Super Bowl 50 en route to securing his rightful Super Bowl MVP accolade.

Key Game – vs. Carolina (September 9)

Super Bowl 50 rematch? Yes, please.

Apart from being the perfect Week 1 treat for all of us, this huge clash will serve as an early barometer on what we should expect from the Broncos the rest of the season. Is Mark Sanchez really capable of not butt-fumbling possessions away? Can the vaunted Denver D really live up to its hype once more in spite of some key departures from its championship-winning roster?

There are many questions surrounding this gutted Broncos squad’s depth, and those questions could be addressed as early as the regular season’s opening kick-off against a Panthers team that didn’t suffer from as many significant losses in the offseason as the boys from Mile High.

2015 Team Stats:

Category Stat (Rank)
Points per game 22.2 (#18)
Passing yards per game 248.1 (#14)
Rushing Yards per game 107.4 (#17)
Scoring Defense 18.5 (#4)

Writer’s Prediction

The Broncos, who are currently priced at +180 to win the crowded AFC West, finish third in the division standings behind the Raiders (+200) and the Chiefs (+180). They also miss out on the playoffs as Kansas City nabs the final wild card spot.

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Mark
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