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NFL Sneak Peak - The Denver Broncos

7-04-09

NFL Football Picks Futures Betting

The Denver Broncos looked awesome at the start of the season, as Jay Cutler was making sweet connections with a great wide receiver tandem in Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. By the end of the season, things had deteriorated to the point where owner Pat Bowlen fired Mike Shanahan, who was generally considered the most powerful coach in the NFL. Things haven't gotten much better since.

So is there a light at the end of this very long tunnel?

Let's take a look at the numbers:

Odds To Win AFC West

San Diego Chargers -300

DENVER BRONCOS +400

Kansas City Chiefs +800

Oakland Raiders +1000

To Win Super Bowl: +4000

To Win AFC title: +2000

To Reach Conference title game: +1000

Regular Season Wins: Over 7 -110, Under 7 -120

Much has been made about the personality conflicts that led to Jay Cutler being traded out of Denver. It's been well-documented, although it is unclear how much of a clash of egos it really was. Josh McDaniels, the new coach (and former offensive coordinator in New England) forced the situation, and he had the backing of owner Pat Bowlen, who had made the bold move of getting rid of Mike Shanahan. Somewhere along the way McDaniels must have insisted to Bowlen that his team could win without Cutler, so that is where the pressure will come down hard on him if things really go awry.

Denver has one of the best groups of receivers in the NFL, when you consider the accomplishments of Brandon Marshall (206 receptions in the last two years), Eddie Royal (91 catches for 980 yards as a rookie), Brandon Stokley (30 career TD's) and Jabar Gaffney (74 catches the last two years for the Patriots). The hard part is that it is almost guaranteed that there will be a mediocre quarterback throwing to them. Chris Simms, who was picked up as a free agent after being unwanted in Nashville, and Kyle Orton, who came over in the Cutler deal, will battle it out. Both of them have been starters in the NFL, and both have seen playoff action. However, those post-season appearances were with teams who could really play some defense. Denver doesn't fit into that category. When you also consider that Marshall wants out of Denver, that is never a good sign. The good news is that whoever is throwing the ball gets protection from Ryan Clady, who had a brilliant rookie year and who, according to a few scouts I talked to, is the best left tackle in the league - right now.

The running game, which has long been a source of pride in the Mile High City, disappeared last year, but it was because of injuries to all the running backs. The Broncos had to re-stock, and they didn't do a bad job. They'll have a nice committee, which will include holdover fullback Peyton Hillis, a nice surprise at five yards a carry when he was pressed into service, along with free agents Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan and J.J. Arrington, and the anxiously-awaited newcomer, first-round draft pick Knowshon Moreno. There is no reason to believe this team won't be able to run the ball.

The defense was a shambles last season, ranking 29th in the league. There were problems two seasons ago as well, but Shanahan never sufficiently addressed them with personnel moves. As far as the defensive line and linebackers are concerned, it's the same old story this year. They allowed five yards a carry, and if people like rookie Robert Ayers, another first-round pick, don't help immediately, it could happen again. On top of this, they are going to a 3-4 alignment. The secondary offers a little encouragement, with Brian Dawkins coming on board, joining Champ Bailey, who can still play, along with newcomers Andre Goodman and Renaldo Hill.

You would figure there to be enough talent to get to the .500 mark, but the quarterback situation makes a big difference. Being in a weak division, there is a chance for four AFC West wins, but I wouldn't count on that. There are non-division games with Dallas, New England, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia and the New York Giants. There isn't a big upside, but there sure is a big downside. This club won't get to eight victories, and won't get to seven either, so that's an UNDER (-120) in the BetUS NFL Futures betting odds.

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