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Meaningul Football is Finally Here for the Broncos

Demaryius Thomas, Von Miller, Emmanuel Sanders

Denver will finally play an actual meaningful football game this weekend. The Broncos will look to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 season that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2010/2011 season.

Offense is the Key

Denver will turn to Trevor Siemian at quarterback for the second consecutive year as they still are trying to replace Peyton Manning. Obviously, last season did not go as planned for Denver, or Siemian, as they missed the postseason. However, Siemian was injured throughout the season, which led to Paxton Lynch playing for him at numerous times.

Denver was relying on a second-year pro and a rookie to lead their offense. The offense had a downright pitiful offensive line. The lack of an offensive line negated any running game and saw the quarterbacks spend most of their time running for their life.

John Elway attempted to solve the offensive line riddle in the offseason. He signed Ronald Leary and Menelik Watson in Free Agency. Elway also drafted Garrett Bolles in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Leary had been a prominent feature on the Cowboys behemoth of an offensive line in recent years. Ronald was a key piece of the insane depth Dallas had at the position. Leary may be, and probably is, Denver’s best offensive lineman. Leary should lock down the guard slot, but that won’t be enough to launch Denver back into the playoffs.

Menelik Watson and Garrett Bolles are tasked with solidifying the edges of the offensive line. And if we’re being honest, that did not look very promising in preseason. Yes, preseason, the games that do not matter. However, it would be naïve to believe they will suddenly become All-Pro offensive tackles after looking like a hot mess in the preseason.

Bolles will rightfully struggle throughout the season. After all, he is a rookie offensive lineman playing in the AFC West. In case you have been living under a rock, the AFC West features some incredibly dangerous opposing pass rushers. Especially if the Denver offense improves, the AFC West could make an argument of being the best division in football.

Denver’s Chances in the AFC West

Denver has six games in total against the Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers. I don’t need to spend too much time telling you how good the Raiders or Chiefs are, both tied for the division title last season. Kansas City secured the title on tiebreakers and in doing so earned a first round bye in the playoffs. However, Oakland probably only lost the division, and first round bye, because Derek Carr got injured. Without Carr, they bowed out of the playoffs in the first round at Houston.
Trevor Siemian is a good quarterback, but he’s probably the least respected of the starting quarterbacks in the division. The other signal callers are Phillip Rivers, Derek Carr, and Alex Smith. Alex Smith being better than Siemian is debatable, they are both game managers. However, Carr and Rivers are undoubtedly more talented quarterbacks than Siemian. This isn’t to knock Siemian, it is just those guys are really, really good.

AFC West Predictions:

Oakland: 13-3
Kansas City: 12-4
Denver: 9-7
Los Angeles: 8-8