My Denver Broncos AFC champion conviction pushed forth undeterred following the Von Miller suspension.
Missing the opening six games certainly takes this defense down a couple notches in the early-going and certainly worries me when it comes to facing run attacks of the Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. However, I have a hard time seeing the going worse than 4-2 during the opening six and then work Miller back into the fold, closing 2013 out on a tear.
To me, the AFC West schedule is a fairly decent a bet for six wins alone. Four months from now we’ll be talking about a team that’s giving Peyton Manning his best weapons in recent memory, terrorizing offenses with Miller, and resting up during their first-round bye. Until then Manning’s perfectly complementary arsenal of Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas will get Denver by just fine.
It will be interesting to see how the Broncos’ backfield situation unfolds. I’m confident Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball can produce at a decent rate yardage-wise but the kicker here will be pass protection for Manning. A back that can be prolific on the ground and at least decent in pass pro could take this unit to the next level.
On the other side, Miller transforms this defense and becomes even more necessary with Elvis Dumervil having departed in free agency. Getting at least one more good year out of aging Champ Bailey and not letting The Flacco Pass haunt Rahim Moore are also extremely critical. If these two can play at last year’s level along with elite slot corner Chris Harris then Denver’s secondary should be among the better units.
Predicted Regular Season Record: 13-3 (1st in AFC West)
Predicted Finish: Lose in Super Bowl to Seattle Seahawks
More of Thomas Emerick’s 2013-2014 NFL team predictions: NYG | WAS | PHI | DAL | GB | CHI | DET | MIN | TB | ATL | NO | CAR | SEA | SF | STL | ARI | NE | MIA | BUF | NYJ | BAL | CLE | CIN | PIT | HOU | IND | TEN | JAX | DEN | KC | SD | OAK