2013 Super Bowl Odds: +275
Notable Change #1:
The Broncos’ biggest acquisition of the offseason was, by far, the pickup of receiver Wes Welker from the New England Patriots. Welker spent the past few seasons serving as the key slot receiver for Tom Brady. Now he’ll catch passes for Peyton Manning in the Mile High City. Welker will obviously be motivated to defeat New England in the race for the AFC Championship. The fact that he brings a substantial knowledge of the Patriots’ methods and tendencies could help the Broncos if they ever play the Patriots in the playoffs. However, Denver has to get there first. The Broncos were on the verge of meeting New England for the AFC title last season, but they lost to the Baltimore Ravens in double overtime in the divisional playoff round. Welker could give Manning the slot receiver he needs in order to move the sticks in third-and-five and other similar situations. If Welker can minimize the amount of passes he drops – he struggled in Super Bowl XLVI and in the 2012 regular season as well – he will make Denver a much better team.
Notable Change #2:
The Broncos lost outside pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, reducing the amount of threats this team can send at opposing quarterbacks. Von Miller is still on the roster, but Dumervil will cut into the Broncos’ level of depth. The team did acquire defensive end Shaun Phillips to try to compensate for the loss of Dumervil, but the sense is that the Broncos will lose more than they gain in that swap of players.
Notable Change #3:
The Broncos tried to bring some reinforcements to their back line of defense. They picked up two cornerbacks, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Quentin Jammer. Everyone in the professional football community knows why Denver made it a point to grab two cornerbacks, not just one. The Broncos would have hosted New England in the AFC Championship Game – and stood a good chance of making Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans – had their secondary not collapsed late in regulation against the Baltimore Ravens in a 2013 AFC Divisional Playoff Game. A blunder committed by Rahim Moore – who badly misjudged a pass thrown by Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco – enabled the Ravens to tie Denver on a 70-yard touchdown pass in the final 35 seconds of regulation. When Baltimore pulled out a victory in double overtime after a Peyton Manning interception, Denver’s top seed in the AFC had ceased to matter. The Broncos hope that Rodgers-Cromartie and Jammer will be able to solidify and stabilize the secondary, so that a recurrence of that nightmare against Baltimore will not happen this season. If Denver can shut down the big play (and avoid the big mistake), the Broncos can take the extra step to the Super Bowl this season.
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