The Denver Broncos will not walk over their opponents in the AFC West this season because the team that Peyton Manning is playing for in 2012 is very similar to the Colts team that was the worst in the league last year.
When they signed prized free agent quarterback Peyton Manning, it seemed like everyone in the nation crowned the Denver Broncos as the new team to beat in the AFC.
Manning will certainly make the Denver passing game one of the league's best with his presence alone, but Denver is a flawed team that started out last season 1-4.
Outside of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, the defense is aging. The offensive weapons aren't much to speak of either, and Denver will have a tough time battling San Diego and Kansas City for the division title.
The Broncos averaged over 137 yards per game on the ground last season but without the threat of Tim Tebow at quarterback, the Denver running game is abysmal.
Willis McGahee is entering his twilight years and Knowshon Moreno has never come remotely close to achieving his potential.
McGahee is a back who always seems to silence doubters by producing every season, but it will be hard for Willis to replicate last year's success without using the quarterback option that Denver employed in 2011.
While they may have been early round picks and have the pedigree, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas have failed to consistently produce the NFL level.
He had a breakthrough performance in Denver's overtime win against the Steelers last season but questions remain about Thomas' ability to produce when playing with a true pocket passer at quarterback.
Decker was exactly the opposite last year, and he produced quality numbers while Kyle Orton was at the helm, then proceeded to struggle after Tebow took over.
Manning thrived during similar conditions in Indianapolis but at this point in his career, putting an entire team on his back will be tough for the former MVP.
There seems to be quantity here, but Denver is lacking quality at the receiver position.
The Broncos are in a bind on the defensive side of the ball.
They have two young stars in Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, but their aging secondary and inability to stop the run will haunt them again in 2012.
Denver gave up over 2000 yards on the ground last year, and Champ Bailey isn't getting any younger.
They made some moves in the draft to improve both areas when they drafted Omar Bolden and Derek Wolfe, but the Denver defense still needs help to become sufficient.
Romeo Crennel is building a top-tier defense in Kansas City and despite the ineptitude at head coach, San Diego will always be a factor in the AFC West with Philip Rivers leading the way.
Rivers is one of the game's best, and the Chargers should find themselves in the playoff hunt this year.
The Chiefs quietly have gathered some elite talent on the defensive side of the ball and with a host of returning starters coming back, Kansas City is primed to contend in 2012.
The AFC West has been considered one of the weaker divisions in football the past few seasons, but all four teams have been making moves to improve greatly.
This is the obvious giant elephant in the room—the injured neck of Peyton Manning.
Reports say his neck is stronger than before and that Manning looks great throwing the football, but a 36-year-old quarterback with injury issues has to be concerning.
Manning is going to make the Denver offense better, but the Broncos are going to need him to do the bulk of the heavy lifting if they want to contend this season.
Manning won 10 games two seasons ago and while he was injured in 2012, the Colts were absolutely terrible.
Common sense may say that the absence of Manning was the sole reason for the Colts 2-14 season—but if you look closer, the Colts were already a team in decline and the Denver Broncos are similar in many ways.
The Broncos and Colts somehow manage to field below-average defenses even though both squads feature a pair of elite pass rushers.
They both also lack credible run games and Manning will find it hard to achieve 14 win seasons like he did so routinely in Indianapolis at 36 years of age.