2009-10 Denver Broncos Predictions
by Justin Johnson - 8/13/2009
2008 Figures: Overall record: 8-8. ATS: 4-11-1. O/U: 8-7-1
2008 Rankings: Scoring offense: 23.13 (No. 16) Scoring Defense: 28 (No. 30)
2008 Inside the Numbers: The Broncos, who have long been known to produce 1,000-yard running backs seemingly out of nowhere, did not eclipse 1,000 yards rushing with their top three backs combined in 2008.
2009 Super Bowl Odds: +4000
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Offense: The Broncos offense in 2009 will look almost nothing like it did in 2008. The transition from Mike Shanahan to Josh McDaniels as head coach will also trumpet a change to the philosophy in play calling. The Broncos should be more balanced by design, but will be breaking in a lot of new faces and three- or four-wide receiver sets. The spat between McDaniels and now former QB Jay Cutler marked the exile of Cutler to Chicago and will signal the beginning of the Chris Simms or Kyle Orton era in Denver.
Neither are great options, but whoever wins out will have a few weapons at their disposal. The duo of Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal are a formidable pair as they racked up more than 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns on 195 of the team’s 386 completed passes in 2008. The continued growth of tight end Tony Scheffler and presence of veteran slot receiver Brandon Stockley should make for a smooth offensive transition. Peyton Hillis led the team in rushing with just 343 yards on the ground in 2009, but may not have a spot in McDaniels’ offense. Hillis is better used as a fullback or H-back, which does not typically fit the system. Denver used the No. 12 pick in the NFL Draft to select Knowshon Moreno out of Georgia. He is expected to be the starter entering the season. Moreno is a strong between-the-tackles runner but does not have explosive, homerun-hitting speed.
Defense: There wasn’t much good to say about the Denver defense in 2008. The performance of the unit is what cost the Broncos the division. After starting the year 8-5, and having a three-game lead in the division, the Broncos lost their final three games to miss the playoffs. What’s worse is that they gave up 112 points in those three games to close the season with a thud.
One of the first moves made by Josh McDaniels was to hire former San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan. Nolan, who made a name as the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, is returning to Denver where he got his first break as a linebackers coach for Dan Reeves. The Broncos will play a version of Nolan’s mixed 3-4/4-3 defense and added an instant playmaker with the drafting of DE Robert Ayers from Tennessee. The linebacking corps is lead by D.J. Williams. Williams will likely move to the weakside inside linebacker in the new defense. This will be the fourth position that Williams has played in his four NFL seasons.
The biggest upgrade will be in the secondary as the Broncos completely overhauled a unit that finished 30th in yards per play, 29th in first downs, 26th in pass yards per play, 29th in total yards allowed, and dead last in creating turnovers - with less than one per game (0.81). Joining stalwart Champ Bailey at corner will be rookie Alphonso Smith. Also new to the secondary will be two hard-hitting veterans at safety. Strong safety Brian Dawkins left the Eagles for the AFC and can develop into the on-field emotional leader of the Broncos. Opposite Dawkins will be Renaldo Hill. Hill is a former cornerback moved to the safety position. He is average against the pass but should be better than the group last year.
2009-10 Denver Broncos Predictions: The Broncos have a chance to be better this season than last but do not expect it to be reflected in the record. An easy(ish) start to the season sees the Broncos battle at Cincinnati, home for Cleveland, and back on the road to division rival Oakland. Denver has a real shot at starting 2-1 and gaining confidence could make this team dangerous. But the middle of the season does not shape up for much success as the Broncos take on Dallas, New England, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore in a stretch where finding one win may be tough to do. The controversial start to McDaniels head coaching career may be behind him but fast success does not appear to be ahead. As is on par with most NFL predictions, I don’t expect the Broncos to be a playoff team in 2009, but they certainly will be an interesting team to watch.
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