The Denver Broncos are largely expected to be “pretty good” during the 2015 NFL season. Few people are picking them to win the Super Bowl, but most people expect them to win the division and make the playoffs. A good season, by most standards.
However, there are a few ways everything can unravel. Remember last year, when the New Orleans Saints were a popular Super Bowl pick? Then they couldn’t even win a division that the Carolina Panthers won with a losing record. So, you never know. Below are five ways the Broncos’ season could come apart at the seams.
1. C.J. Anderson had a fluke year.
Think C.J. Anderson is going to tear it up this year? It looks like the stars have aligned for the young back, who was one of the NFL’s best in the second half of the season and who now has the zone blocking system working for him. However, he only has seven starts in his entire career. The year before last, he got just seven carries.
Yes, he looked good at the end of 2014, but that’s a really small sample size, especially when expectations are now that he’ll be one of the best backs in the NFL. Maybe he just put together a few good games and he’ll never look so good again.
2. Peyton Manning really is really old.
Manning’s injury last year seems to have healed, and reports are that he’s killing it in camp. Don’t forget, though, that Manning always kills it in camp. And early in the season. The problem everyone talks about is that he’s old, so he gets hurt and slows down as the year progresses.
By the playoffs, he’s nothing like the guy he was in camp. If that happens again, the Broncos could win their first eight games and still finish the year looking like non-contenders.
3. The offensive line is too young.
The biggest issue facing Denver is the offensive line. There are a ton of new starters, including a rookie—Ty Sambrailo—at left tackle, and they’re all learning a new system. This is a serious cause for concern.
If the line can’t open holes for Anderson and block for Manning, this whole thing comes crashing down. The stars need time to make their plays, that time comes from the trenches, and having the offensive line as the weakest unit on the team could come back to haunt Denver.
4. Miscommunication runs rampant.
The Broncos have a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and a new defensive coordinator—among many others. The coaching staff that took the team to the Super Bowl was thrown out almost wholesale. This means new schemes, new terminology, new ideas, new personnel groups, and a whole lot more. The players have to be able to keep up with all these changes.
Miscommunication at any level could cause breakdowns in coverage, wideouts running the wrong routes, and a bunch of other issues that would keep the Broncos from playing up to their tremendous talent.
The great unknown. Injuries can ruin an entire season. The Green Bay Packers didn’t go to the Super Bowl last year because Aaron Rodgers was hurt. All across the league, injuries strike fairly randomly, and there’s no way to know who the Broncos are going to lose. While they do have good depth, they can only weather so much.
Ryan Clady has already been lost for the year, and it’s a big part of why the offensive line is now a huge question mark, rather than a position of strength. If a few injuries come into the mix, even if they’re not to Peyton Manning, it could really test Denver’s roster and its ability to absorb those blows.