There’s little debate over whether the Denver Broncos are one of the leading favorites to win the Super Bowl this season. But with news surfacing last week that Von Miller could be suspended for the first four games of the season, we should be reminded of how vulnerable the Broncos are, and how they could easily falter if things don’t go their way, which is a serious issue for them because their window to win a Super Bowl is small. Outside of Miller getting suspended, here are five more things that could derail the Broncos on their way to the Super Bowl this season:
1. Peyton Manning’s health – Manning proved last season that he was healthy and as good as ever after multiple neck surgeries, but at his age it’s not far fetched to think that his health could become an issue. The Broncos are a good team, and they’re well balanced on both sides of the ball, but if Manning isn’t healthy, they’re not going to the Super Bowl. Manning is at the age where he’s susceptible to injury, and any long-term injury he suffers would derail Denver’s season real fast.
2. The offensive line – Denver’s offensive line was great last season, and they look good again on paper this season, but they are a little banged up heading into the season. Starting center Dan Koppen tore his ACL and is out for the season, left tackle Ryan Clady has battled injuries and played through pain throughout his career, and starters Chris Kuper and J.D. Walton are both expected to start the season on the sidelines with injuries. Denver should have reliable depth, but if backups don’t play well or the injuries continue to pile up and prove to be an issue, it could threaten Manning’s health, as well as the Broncos season.
3. A sub-par pass rush – Regardless of Miller’s availability, the Broncos have some questions with regard to their pass rush after failing to re-sign Elvis Dumervil during the offseason. The Broncos are relying on some younger guys to help their pass rush, and are hopeful that a rookie like Quanterus Smith can step up and become a viable pass rusher to complement Miller, but there are no guarantees. Baltimore handled Denver’s pass rush in the playoffs last year, and that made the Broncos vulnerable, so if Denver doesn’t have a strong pass rush this year, they could have a problem.
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4. An aging secondary – Champ Bailey was awful against the Ravens in the playoffs last year, but even though the Broncos still believe he has plenty left in the tank, the addition of Quentin Jammer and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie doesn’t make Denver’s secondary any younger. Obviously, there is a lot of talent and experience in that group, but Denver is taking a bit of a risk by relying on such an elderly secondary, especially if they aren’t certain they’ll have the same caliber of pass rush they had last season. If Denver’s aging secondary proves to be over the hill, the Broncos could be in serious trouble.
5. Off-field issues – You never want off-field issues to spill over onto the field, but that’s certainly possible, and Denver’s front office has had a bad offseason. The Broncos are a veteran team, and they should be able to block out any distractions and focus on their goal of getting to the Super Bowl, but off-field issues like Miller’s possible suspension or executives getting arrested for DUI can happen at any time and derail Denver’s Super Bowl hopes.