In the eyes of the national media the Kansas City Chiefs remain an underrated team hidden in the shadows of Peyton Manning's head and given just a pinch of respect, but in Denver we aren't even competition. In Denver, the fans have forgotten all about the blowout loss to the Seahawks in SuperBowl XLVIII instead they have a strong grasp of the Lombardi Trophy from crowning themselves SuperBowl 49 Champions already. Many of the Denver Bronco fans have moved outside the respectable level of optimism due to this inflated coverage and media confidence placed on the Broncos, and now those fans are displaying various degrees of cockiness, an increased sense of entitlement, and an overstated, egregious disregard for any and all competition. The road to the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona is paved, but still riddled with trials and tribulations for all teams and fanbases alike, and with that I give you the 4-main reasons the Denver Broncos have the Lombardi Trophy torn from their fingertips AGAIN.
Believe it or not, Peyton Manning's days are numbered in the NFL as he turned 38 back in March. He is no longer the QB that once ran a 4.8, 40-yard dash. The Denver Broncos have assembled a team chalked full of talent to win it all, they are not building for the future. It is all or nothing for this team. Needless to say, the pressure is on.
Peyton Manning orchestrateda near perfect, record setting season in 2013, but can it be replicated? He is clearly a future Hall of Famer, but is his legacy on the line with this season? Throughout his entire career, Peyton Manning has really put up "Starwars Numbers" as Jim Irsay proclaimed last year and he his collected a ton of awards, check is Wikipedia page.
Heck, Vegas had the Broncos with a 7 - 1 odd of winning Superbowl 49 before any of the OTAs (Chiefs 33 -1 odds).
The pressure will be a huge weight for Peyton Manning to handle, but will he be able to shoulder the burden for one last run. "No Excuses", the team has been built for this journey.
Most NFL analysts believe the Broncos will walk away with the AFC in 2014, in fact DJ Siddiqi of Rant Sports stated the following: "The Broncos are lucky in that they play in the weaker of the two conferences -- the AFC doesn't have many truly elite teams. Outside of the New England Patriots, the Broncos don't seem to have any rivals in the AFC that can match its firepower. Considering the amount of parity in the NFL, anything can happen in 2014. However, similar to the Miami Heat's dominance in the Eastern Conference in the NBA, the Broncos should be the top team in the AFC." Sadly, most NFL 'experts' believe Peyton Manning will lead the Denver Broncos into being the NFL's #1 offense for the third straight season even though this season will be the hardest strength of schedule Manning has faced as a Bronco.
Based on the 2013 season, the Broncos have the second-most difficult strength of schedule in 2014. Overall the Broncos' oponents had a .570 winning percentage last seaon. Their 'Home' schedule is tied for fifth-most difficult (.555 win percentage; road opponents had a .586 winning percentage).
Take a look at the Broncos Schedule, and notice the number of teams with a Seahawks-talented defense and smile as you remember Superbowl XLVIII (48).
The blueprint on how to beat the Broncos high-powered offense was well documented and televised nationally on February 2nd, 2014. Peyton Manning's biggest asset is his timing routes, and when you remove the timing the offense will not produce. Guess what, the Kansas City Chiefs and all the AFC teams drafted off the Seahawks blueprint which was designed to beat all pass heavy offenses not just Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos. In the AFC-West, look at the new defensive additions from the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft alone: Kansas City Chiefs Dee Ford, Oakland Raiders Kalil Mack, and San Diego Chargers Jason Verrett.
Again, look at the Broncos 2014 schedule, which teams have the big, fast, and athletic personel to run Seattle's single-high-safety coverage (Cover 1-Robber and Cover 3) the defensive schemes they used to dominated the Broncos? The Kansas City Chiefs are using Eric Berry in Single-High in OTAswhy because it is a copy cat league. Many teams, not just the Chiefs are investing in their defense. Seattle had the presence of four legitimate pass rushers in Superbowl XLVIII which showed Seattle's emphasis on getting after Manning in the pocket and disrupting his timing routes. What teams have the pass rushers?
The Lack of Balance
I won't go as far as to say the Broncos offense is one-dimensional, but the team lacks balance. The departure of Knowshon Moreno and his emotional leadership will be a bigger loss to the Denver Broncos then projected. You cannot tell me that the 2013 second round pick Montee Ball is an upgrade over Knowshon Moreno. Has Montee Ball fixed his fumbling problem? The Broncos running backs are unproven, and Peyton Manning's pass heavy offense lacks balance which will allow more aggressive defenses to get after the quarterback.
The Denver Broncos will be a force to be reckoned with in 2014, but in no way is Peyton Manning untouchable or are the Denver Broncos unbeatable. The NFL has been given time to adjust, and teams are being built to beat the Peyton Mannings, the Philip Rivers, and the Tom Bradys of the league. The Seattle Seahawks proved last year with a simple defensive scheme executed by speedy and powerful players that the Denver Broncos high powered offense can be derailed. Sure the Broncos have added some big name free agents to help Peyton Manning in hopefully his final push, but I don't see their offense as being 'unstoppable' any longer. I think the timing routes have ran out of time, and the defensive schemes are ready to make the adjustment that helps Peyton Manning into retirement. It will be a great season to watchunfold, and it will be a pleasure watching how our very own Bob Sutton unleashes the Kansas City Chiefs defense this year!
I am ready!