2014 49ers opponent review, preview: Denver Broncos

Doug Pensinger

I take a look at the Denver Broncos in anticipation of next season.

Now that the offseason is in full-swing, it's time to start looking ahead to our upcoming opponents. We will visit and revisit each team a few times this offseason to take stock of what Free Agents they may have signed or what players they have drafted. But, for now, it's sufficient to just get a feel for how each team fared last season and what needs each team might address before the next.

Today, we are taking a look at the Denver Broncos. As you might remember, they lost in what was later proven by scientists to be the most boring Super Bowl in the history of the sport. And they lost bad. Beaten in, essentially, every facet of the game, the Broncos might seem like odd contenders for next season, yet a lot of very (very, very) early power rankings have them as AFC favorites. That's because last season saw an offense that was nearly unstoppable and a QB who had a complete mastery of the game. And while the defense seemed to get weaker and weaker as the season went on, we must keep in mind that the return of pass rusher Von Miller would likely help an aging secondary, and that this secondary is likely going to be revamped this offseason anyway. As long as the offense can continue to dominate, the defense only needs to be passable.

2013 Review:

As I discussed above, and as any sports-inclined person knows, the Broncos had a fairly impressive and exciting season and post-season, until the Super Bowl that is. Peyton Manning set all sorts of records, putting together arguably the single greatest statistical season ever for a quarterback. The 55 touchdowns he tossed boggles the mind, even in an age of high-scoring offenses. The offense was, mostly, unstoppable, while the defense slipped as the season progressed. They finished the season 13-3 in a division that sent three teams to the playoffs.

Free Agents:

Knowshon Moreno, RB; Andre Caldwell, WR; Eric Decker, WR; Winston Justice, OL; Zane Beadles, OL; Dan Koppen, OL; Steve Vallos, OL; Robert Ayers, DE; Jeremy Mincey, DE; Shaun Phillips, LB; Stewart Bradley, LB; Paris Lenon, LB; Wesley Woodyard, LB; Quentin Jammer, CB; Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB; Mike Adams, S; Michael Huff, S.

The big name that sticks out on this list is Eric Decker. Part of the reason for the offense's success was its multifaceted approach. If a team shut down Wes Welker, then Eric Decker would score, etc. It is difficult to cover three excellent receivers while Peyton Manning himself is looking for any mistake on the defense's part. As it currently stands, the Bronces have $12,744,044 in cap space for the upcoming season, but I don't know if they will want to spend a lot of that on Mr. Decker.

The Broncos might rather wish to spend their cap money upgrading the secondary. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is also a Free Agent, and while I don't think he is an elite level CB (ProFootballFocus graded him out to a very nice 12.9 score for last season, primarily due to his pass coverage grade of 11.5), he might have been the best player in that secondary. Moreover, the Broncos suffer most strongly in the secondary unit as they head into the offseason. Look for them to use the cap space to upgrade the backend of their defense.

Draft Picks:

The Broncos will be picking No. 31 pick in each round - nothing more and nothing less. Pending free agency, look for the Broncos to address their secondary, shore up wide receiver with Eric Decker's potential loss, and figure out how to replace guard Zane Beadles. He is a free agent, and was the weakest link on the offensive line (PFF graded him out in 2013 at -5.7 overall, with a -7.6 pass blocking grade).

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