Leading up to this season, the AFC West was talked about to be the best division in football. The division did not disappoint, with three teams having over six wins already this season.
One team is the Denver Broncos, but how big are the chances that the team actually wins the division?
Last season, the Broncos were led by future Hall Of Fame Quarterback Peyton Manning under center, the team made it to the Super Bowl. defeating the Carolina Panthers to win.
In the offseason, Manning called it a career, retiring after playing in the league for 18 seasons. Meanwhile, Manning’s soon to be replacement Brock Osweiler was a free agent that same offseason, and decided to sign a 4-year deal with the Houston Texans worth $72 million.
This season, the team is turning to second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian, who the team decided to name quarterback after Mark Sanchez failed to perform during the offseason camps and preseason.
With Siemian at quarterback, the team is ranked 23rd in the league in passing, averaging 227.3 yards per game. The offense is not as effective this season compared to last season, and the loss of Manning did not help at all.
The team still has good weapons in Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and a solid offensive line that allowed Siemian to only get sacked 19 times this season.
When Manning retired, the focus of the offense was going to be on running back C.J. Anderson, who had a great season last year. Anderson started out the season well until he suffered a torn meniscus during the game against the Texans, ending his season.
The loss of Anderson did not help the teams running game at all, as the running game ranks 22nd in the league, averaging 97.4 yards per game.
With Anderson gone, rookie running back Devontae Booker has to step in for him. Even though Anderson is out, the team can still produce some solid offensive numbers, but the running game is a major problem right now.
Even though the team is missing some key offensive weapons, they can still produce some numbers, but the running and passing game could become a major problem come playoff time if it does not improve from what it is right now.
The key to the team’s success during last season was a dominating defense, led by Von Miller. The team had some great defensive pieces alongside Miller, with players like DeMarcus Ware, Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson, and Aqib Talib.
If it was not for a shutdown defense last season, the team might not have made it all the way to the Super Bowl.
While the offense is struggling, the defense is the thing that is keeping the team in running to win the AFC West. The pass defense is ranked 2nd in the league in passing yards, allowing 194 passing yards per game. The secondary has to keep on coming up big for the team if they want to make it back the Super Bowl.
The run defense on the other hand, is ranked 29th in the league, allowing 123.7 yards per game. The run defense is disappointing compared to last season, where the team was ranked 3rd in run defense, allowing 83.6 yards per game.
The defense needs to stop the run if they want to have a deep playoff run, the secondary can not bail the team out every time.
In the remaining games left on the schedule, the team has to play two divisional rivals in the Kansas City Chiefs the Oakland Raiders, Super Bowl favorite in the New England Patriots, a team on that is making some noise this season in the Tennessee Titans, and a team that has nothing to play for in the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Besides the one game against Jacksonville, the rest of the way for the team is really tough, playing four teams that can take advantage the run defense.
At the end of the day, the secondary will not be able to bail the Broncos out of this hole. The run defense and offense are not good enough right now to win games at the end of the season when the season is on the line.
The offense and defense still have time left in the season find its groove and start clicking. For right now though, just a good secondary is not good enough to win the division.
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