Denver Broncos have some question marks entering the playoffs


The Denver Broncos capped off their 2014 regular season this past Sunday afternoon, defeating the division rival Oakland Raiders at home 47-14. Don’t let that game fool you however. Denver still has some question marks surrounding the team as they enter the playoffs, anxiously awaiting to find out their opponent. Denver will face the highest seed remaining from the Wild Card Round (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, or Indianapolis). The game will be held January 11th at Sports Authority Field, starting at 4:40 PM EST, 2:40 PM MST on CBS.

The first topic of conversation will revolve around the quarterback position. Peyton Manning certainly hasn’t played up to his capability dating back to week 11 against the St. Louis Rams. Since that game, Manning has recorded just one 300+ yard game through the air while doing so six times previously in ten games. Manning’s accuracy has been a topic of debate to whether or not he has lost velocity on his ball. Since the week 11 game against St. Louis, Manning has thrown eight interceptions – four of which coming against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. In my honest opinion, I believe Manning will be fine, the team just needs to do a better job protecting him.

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Jumping right to the offensive line, they simply need to do a better job protecting Peyton Manning. Watching the last couple of games, it seems Manning has had virtually no time to make the right play. Looking back at the Monday Night loss to the Bengals, Manning was hit eight times throughout the ball game and was sacked twice. Cincinnati confused Manning all game with their coverage which ultimately led to four interceptions. Denver’s make-shift offensive line consisting of Ryan Clady, Orlando Franklin, Will Montgomery, Manny Ramirez, and Louis Vasquez simply have to play their A-game once they hit the field January 11th.

Special teams have been a disaster dating back to last season and you saw it first hand in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. In a Denver Post article just this past weekend from Irv Moss, Denver gave up nearly 206 return yards to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football – 134 of which came on kickoff returns from Adam Jones. If you let the opposing team beat you up on kick/punt returns in the playoffs, chances are you’ll have a long day.

The addition of Connor Barth has made a world of difference for the team as well. Since removing Brandon McManus from kicker duties, Barth has made quite the impression. Barth has had two games where he went 5-for-5 and another game where he went 4-for-4. The 28-year-old kicker who was released by Tampa Bay finished the season going 15-of-16 on field goal attempts. His only miss came during the Monday Night game against Cincinnati where his attempt went wide-left.

The run-game has been improving steadily week-after-week since Denver’s loss to St. Louis. C.J. Anderson has made a name for himself and Denver’s offense now seemingly revolves around the undrafted second-year pro out of the University of California. Anderson finished the season with 849 yards rushing, including two-straight 160+ yard games against Miami and Kansas City. Not to mention, Ronnie Hillman returned from a foot injury this past week and will only add a one-two punch with Anderson in the backfield.

All-in-all, Denver has some areas they need to address in the upcoming playoffs to be successful to make another Super Bowl run. Peyton Manning has to somewhat return to form, the offensive line has to improve, and special teams play has to be better. You have to be encouraged with the way the defense has been playing and the new-found run game.