The Denver Broncos’ 5 Biggest Red Flags Heading into 2014

Denver Broncos: The 5 Biggest Red Flags Heading into 2014

John Fox
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have a lot to be optimistic about as the 2014 season approaches. Like with any team, though, there are also some concerns about the franchise that could prevent John Fox's club from getting back to the Super Bowl. Here are Denver's five biggest red flags at this juncture of the offseason.

5. Difficult Schedule

Broncos Super Bowl
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

5. Difficult Schedule

Broncos Super Bowl
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos beat up on the league's easiest schedule in 2013 en route to a 13-3 regular-season finish. Their road back to the playoffs and a potential first-round bye will be more difficult in 2014, however. The NFC West, the league's most talented division, is on the slate. When factoring in last year's standings, the Broncos project to have the league's second hardest schedule this fall.

4. Lack of Quality MLB

Lamin Barrow
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

4. Lack of Quality MLB

Lamin Barrow
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It speaks volumes about the Broncos' lack of talent at the "MIKE" linebacker position that Lamin Barrow, a fifth-round pick out of LSU, is already seeing first-teams snaps during OTAs. Maybe Barrow emerges as a late-round gem and an instant difference-maker for Denver, but chances are, the Broncos' lack of a quality starter at the spot will limit the defense's ceiling in 2014.

3. Big Spenders Typically Falter

Aqib Talib
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

3. Big Spenders Typically Falter

Aqib Talib
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

By signing Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware, the Broncos have moved their chips to the middle of the table to maximize the club's potential during Peyton Manning's last season or two. Adding coveted free agents doesn't always equate to an upgraded roster, though. Free agency splurgers have typically struggled in recent years. Whether it's complacency or unfamiliarity, top free agents have a tendency of struggling with new teams.

2. Super Bowl Losers Historically Disappoint

Broncos Super Bowl
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

2. Super Bowl Losers Historically Disappoint

Broncos Super Bowl
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Since 2000, six Super Bowl losers have failed to even qualify for the playoffs the following year. The letdown of losing the big game can mess with the psyche of a team. With how thoroughly annihilated the Broncos were in Super Bowl XLVII, it won't be surprising if John Fox's team lacks the same fire it played with last season. The Broncos are seemingly too talented to struggle much, though.

1. Peyton Manning is Year Older

Peyton Manning
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

1. Peyton Manning is Year Older

Peyton Manning
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It's unlikely that Peyton Manning follows up the best statistical season of his career by finally allowing age to catch up to him. He seems to have at least one or two more elite seasons left in the tank. Now 38, though, it's quite possible that Manning's decline will begin 2014. His falloff might not be drastic -- at least not at first -- but Manning can't play at such a high level forever.


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