In a few minutes I will be leaving for the opening game of the Denver Broncos 2013 season vs. the Baltimore Ravens. Here are my quick thoughts on the Broncos season:
Despite Von Miller and Champ Bailey being out I expect the Broncos to win tonight. I think the Broncos passing game will be the best ever this season. Opposing teams, starting with the Ravens, will have a difficult time stopping the wide receiver trio of Thomas, Decker, and Welker with Peyton Manning showing the all pro form of his Indianapolis Colts days. I saw Manning close up in training camp and his arm is stronger this year - two years removed from the neck injury that caused him to miss the 2011 season.
All will not be rosy for the Broncos this season, though. Many fans are assuming the team will go to the Super Bowl. I hope they are right, but I am not that optimistic. Denver has tough road games at the NY Giants, at Dallas, at Indianapolis, at New England, and at Houston. I think they'll have a hard time matching last year's 13-3 record with this difficult road slate, even if they win all their home games (and there will probably be an unexpected home loss along the way, like last year's loss to Houston at Sports Authority field).
I'm concerned about the defense - missing Von Miller for the first six games and without the pass rush of Elvis Dumervil. I'm also not convinced the Broncos have fixed their problems of defending the long pass in the secondary - a weakness that I mentioned in my prediction last year and which proved to be the team's undoing in that playoff loss to the Ravens.
I predict the Broncos will finish with an 11-5 record, they will once again win the AFC West, but they will not be the #1 seed in the AFC. Historically great passing teams do not fare well in the playoffs on the road during the cold month of January. I predict the Broncos will lose at New England in the AFC Championship game.
I hope the Broncos surprise me and surpass this prediction, bringing home another Lombardi trophy.