Even after four consecutive AFC West Division titles, a trip to the Super Bowl and 38 wins in the past three seasons; the Denver Broncos decided to part ways with head John Fox, who now is the head man for the Chicago Bears. Gary Kubiak, a former Broncos offensive coordinator, steps in to take over the reins and see if he can help Denver capture that elusive Super Bowl title. Bookmakers however aren't that optimistic as Super Bowl predictions have listed the Broncos at 12/1 to hoist the Lombardi trophy, 5/1 to win the AFC Conference and -200 in NFL odds to win the AFC West. Someone who is a bit more optimistic with Kubiak holding the clipboard is future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning as the 17-year veteran still has a few tricks left up his sleeve.
Manning will enter the 2015 season somewhat healthier after dealing with a quadriceps problem for much of last year. Kubiak is a practitioner of the zone offense and will rely heavily on running backs C.J. Anderson and Montee Ball. The Denver Broncos offensive line, which suffered its share of injuries last season, should be a strength. Guard Shelley Smith was signed from Houston and the Broncos drafted Ty Sambrailo (Colorado State) and Max Garcia (Florida). With a solid offensive line and improved ground game, the Broncos passing game should be even better. Manning threw for 4,727 yards and 39 touchdowns last season. Manning may also have the best 1-2 receiving tandem in the NFL with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Thomas caught 111 passes for 1,619 yards, while Sanders added 101 for 1,404. Denver lost tight end Julius Thomas to Jacksonville in free agency but picked up a pretty good one in Owen Daniels from Baltimore.
A big addition to the Broncos this season is new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The NFL veteran has coached some of the league’s best pass rushers. He helped DeMarcus Ware record 60.5 sacks in four years in Dallas. Phillips rejoins Ware in Denver where he will line up opposite Von Miller. The pair combined for 24 sacks last year, Miller with 14 and Ware with 10. They should shine in Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. Even at 39 years old, Manning is still one of the top five quarterbacks in the game and, other than last year’s nagging injuries, has not shown any signs of slowing down. The Broncos will find out where they are at quickly and they can control the 2015 AFC West division once again. They begin the season at home against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 13th. NFL odds for the over/under total regular season wins have Denver posted at 10 OVER (-130).
Broncos Update (9/11/15): Denver are now +1400 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +650 to win the AFC Conference and -150 to win the AFC West.