2012 NFL Free Agents: Predictions for Peyton Manning's First Season with Broncos

Mike MoraitisAnalyst IMarch 31, 2012

ENGLEWOOD, CO - MARCH 20:  Quarterback Peyton Manning poses with his uniform after the news conference announcing his contract with the Denver Broncos in the team meeting room at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre on March 20, 2012 in Englewood, Colorado. Manning, entering his 15th NFL season, was released by the Indianapolis Colts on March 7, 2012, where he had played his whole career. It has been reported that Manning will sign a five-year, $96 million offer.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Peyton Manning might be on the comeback trail from a very serious injury and an entire year off, but that doesn't mean the expectations of his first season with the Denver Broncos should be any lower.

Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and even at 75 percent, he is still better than most play-callers in the league.

That being said, if he can stay healthy and his neck is truly healed, Manning should be able to pick up where he left off as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

Here are some predictions for Manning's first season with the Broncos.


A Return To MVP Form

Before missing all of last season, Manning was an annual candidate for the NFL MVP award and now that he's healthy again, I'd expect him to be that caliber of quarterback once again.

I expect for him to throw for more than 4,500 yards with a talented young receiving corps and a solid rushing attack to help keep defenses honest.

2012 stats: 4,689 yards, 40 touchdowns and 13 interceptions


Eric Decker Will Have a Career Year

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08:  Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos catches a pass against Ryan Mundy #29 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo b
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

In his second NFL season, Decker saw his role increase on the team and in turn, he caught a career-high 44 receptions for a total of 612 yards on the season.

And that was with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow taking the snaps.

Manning is simply better than both of those quarterback combined and that fact alone will give Decker a huge leg-up going into the 2012 season.

Peyton is notorious for making talented receivers great and Decker's ability to put up big numbers with bad quarterbacks will translate to league-leading numbers with Manning behind center.

Decker's 2012 stats: 83 receptions, 1,185 yards and 12 touchdowns


Broncos Will Go to the Super Bowl

It's incredible to believe that even without a consistent answer at quarterback the Broncos still made it to the playoffs and actually won the first round.

Granted, there was some luck involved, but Denver's defensive effort was no fluke and this team can flat-out shut teams down when they need to.

So all things being equal with their defense and most every aspect of their team, the addition of Manning makes them worlds better than they were last season and they should one of the NFL's elite teams.

Without any AFC team making any major improvements to put them over the top, that leaves the Broncos as one of the few teams who improved leaps and bounds during the offseason.

I expect Denver to not only advance past the divisional round in 2012, but make it to the Super Bowl as well.