The west seems to have a very defined pecking order. Denver is heads and heels above the rest. KC is very talented. San Diego is mediocre. And Oakland is brutal. Can Manning continue his run of dominance? Can KC make a huge one year turnaround? Can Rivers regain his form of the late 2000’s? And, can Oakland win a game?
2012 Record: 13-3; 1st Place
2013 Prediction: 14-2
Confidence in Pick: 80%
Losses: Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller (6 games), Tracy Porter, Jason Hunter, Brandon Stokley, Willis McGahee
Pickups: Wes Welker, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Shaun Phillips, Quentin Jammer, Louis Vasquez, Terrance Knighton
Reasons for Optimism:
Peyton Manning – If Manning wasn’t good enough with Thomas and Decker, now he has Welker. I am really excited to see these two play together and what type of numbers they can put up. I believe this offense may be the most potent and most balance offense Manning has ever played with. That is a scary thought for a QB 3rd all-time on the passing yards list, 2nd all-time in TDs, 3rd all-time in rating and 5th all-time in completion percentage. If Manning had 37 TDs and 4,600+ yards in 2012 without Welker, imagine what those numbers may be in 2013?
Wide Receivers – There is not a better set of WRs in the league. In fact, these 3 could be one of the best trio of WRs ever. Add in Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen at TE, and it is impossible to cover them all…and Manning will find the guy that is open.
Running Backs – The Broncos elected not to bring back their top RB from 2012 (McGahee) and are better off because of it. Expect to see Montee Ball as the main back, and why not? Ball had 77 TDs in his college career. Over his last two years at Wisconsin, Ball had 55 TDs and 3,753 yards. He doesn’t offer much receiving out of the backfield, but with this passing attack, he should find plenty of room to run, especially off play-action fakes.
Defense – They lost Dumervil and Miller is out for the first 6 games, but Miller will be replaced by Shuan Phillips (9.5 sacks) and the Denver secondary (though old), should be solid with Bailey, DRC and Quentin Jammer.