Denver Broncos Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 7/29/2014
So was the Denver Broncos' performance in the Super Bowl the biggest flop in NFL history? Seriously, it has to be asked. The Broncos set the NFL record for points, and Peyton Manning did the same for passing yards and touchdowns in the regular season in winning his record fifth MVP Award. Yet Denver didn't even belong on the same field with the Seahawks, a fact made evident on the first offensive play of the game when the Seahawks scored on a safety. It was quite shocking. I would argue it was the worst performance in a Super Bowl at least since the Cowboys trashed the Bills 52-17 in XXVII.
Fair or not, Manning is starting to get a bad rep in terms of winning it all as he's now 1-2 in the Super Bowl and 11-12 overall in the postseason. Obviously he's 20 times better than brother Eli, but It's Eli with the two rings and unbeaten Super Bowl record. This season is probably Peyton's last best chance to win a second title. He'll be 39 after the season, the AFC looks fairly weak overall and the Broncos made a few big moves this offseason in a win-now approach.
Write this down in marker: The Broncos will not average 37.9 points per game again. In fact, I'd probably list their over/under average at 31.5. Manning probably throws for 4,800 yards and 42 touchdowns, which are pretty spectacular numbers but would be a major step back from last season's 5,477 yards and 55 scores. Teams are going to try and copy what Seattle did to him. Obviously, the vast majority of teams don't have the talent of that Seattle defense, but it's a copy-cat league. Manning did lose one of his top targets in receiver Eric Decker as well as good running back Knowshon Moreno. But it's still the best group of receivers in the NFL with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, tight end Julius Thomas and new addition Emmanuel Sanders, formerly of the Steelers. Scouts are high on second-round rookie receiver Cody Latimer from Indiana.
Second-year player Montee Ball will take Moreno's spot as the featured back. Ball averaged 4.7 yards per carry as a rookie, superior to what Moreno did (4.3). Ball wasn't a very good pass blocker or receiver, however, with just 20 catches. He'll have to improve in both categories to stay on the field as an every-down back. Ronnie Hillman will get some touches as well. Keep in mind, too, that the Broncos get back one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL in Ryan Clady. He suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 2 last year. Denver did lose very good guard Zane Beadles to free agency.
Obviously that record-setting offense didn't need much tweaking this offseason, but the defense had some holes, and that's where the Broncos were really aggressive. In are new No. 1 cornerback Aqib Talib (Patriots), big hitting safety T.J. Ward (Browns) and pass-rushing end DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys). Those latter two definitely make this a more physical group. The Broncos might now have the best pair of pass rushers in the league in Ware and Von Miller, assuming Ware bounces back from a disappointing 2013 season. Miller was limited to just nine games last year due to suspension and injury. He didn't play at all in the postseason. Rookie first-round pick Bradley Roby of Ohio State likely will start from Day 1 opposite Talib at cornerback. The pass defense should be much improved. The Broncos were No. 7 against the run in 2013 but 27th against the pass. "The best pass defense is a pass rush," John Elway says.
2014 Denver Broncos Schedule Analysis
The Broncos have the second-toughest schedule in the NFL (behind Oakland) as their opponents went a combined 146-110 last season, a winning percentage of .570. Denver's road schedule (.586) looks a bit tougher than at home (.555). It's the second-toughest road schedule in the league (also behind Oakland). Denver is a 7.5-point favorite at home for Week 1 against Indianapolis. The total of 55.5 is by far the highest on the board. The Colts handed the Broncos their first loss last year, 39-33, in Manning's homecoming to Indy. It was easily the most harassed Manning was all regular season as the Colts defenders were on top of him all night. He threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns but lost a fumble and threw a pick. He was sacked four times, twice by 2013 NFL sack king Robert Mathis. The good news for Manning is Mathis is suspended the first four games of this season. The Broncos were pretty dominant at home last year but actually enter on a one-game home losing streak in the regular season.
It's a very tough schedule at least until Week 10. Here's what follows Indy: vs. Chiefs, at Seahawks, bye week, vs. Cardinals, at Jets, vs. 49ers, vs. Chargers, at Patriots. Is it me or does it seem like every Manning-Tom Brady regular-season showdown happens in New England? Only the Jets failed to win 10 games last year of that group (San Diego did if you count its wild-card victory). I don't think this club will start 7-0 again. It gets a bit easier after that: at Raiders, at Rams, vs. Dolphins, at Chiefs, vs. Bills, at Chargers, at Bengals, vs. Raiders. The Broncos have to love finishing at home vs. Oakland in case playoff seeding is at stake.
2014 Denver Broncos Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Broncos are +650 to win the Super Bowl (tied with Seattle as favorites), +220 to win the AFC championship and -300 to win the AFC West. They have the highest wins total on the board at 11.5 , with the under a -135 favorite. Denver is -475 to make the playoffs and +350 to miss. Manning is the +350 favorite to win another NFL MVP Award and +300 favorite to lead the league in passing yards. Ball is +1800 to top the league in rushing. Demaryius Thomas is the +500 second-favorite to lead the NFL in receiving yards. Welker is +7500, Sanders is +15000 and Julius Thomas is +30000. Latimer is +2000 to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Roby is +2500 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
2014 Denver Broncos Picks and Predictions
So, would Manning hang up his cleats and walk away on top if he won a Super Bowl like his boss, Elway, did? I wouldn't rule it out considering Manning's age and history of neck surgeries. The offense should be dynamic -- the Broncos better pray Manning stays healthy because backup Brock Osweiler has attempted 20 career regular-season passes -- and I believe Ball will have a big season as long as he stops fumbling. Otherwise he'll be back on the bench. Sanders is a pretty solid replacement for Decker. The defense should be much better with those three big additions.
This looks like the best team in the AFC. If the Broncos can avoid Seattle or San Francisco in the Super Bowl, they can win it. Problem is, I don't think they can avoid one of those two. So go over wins (12-4), yes on the division and AFC crown. That's it. Manning won't win another MVP or passing title.
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