4 Things the Denver Broncos Must Do to Win the Super Bowl
However, even with Peyton Manning, it will be a lot harder for the Broncos to contend.
The Broncos signed the top-notch quarterback to a five-year deal this offseason, which seemed to make them instant contenders. However, Denver has a very tough schedule, and there are a lot of teams hungry to win the AFC.
While I think the Broncos will contend for and win a title, they need to do some things first. To find out what they need to do, read on.
Stop the Pass
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Last year, Denver struggled to stop the pass, especially against elite quarterbacks.
Since the Broncos have the toughest schedule in the NFL, it's safe to say they will be facing some elite quarterbacks.
Brian Dawkins retired, so either Rahim Moore or Quinton Carter (both young safeties) would take over. Omar Bolden, Denver's fourth-round draft pick, could see some time at cornerback, but Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter will start.
Porter was acquired from the Saints, and he is a fast, smart cornerback. He reads the quarterback well, so he can make adjustments, like when he intercepted a Peyton Manning pass in the Super Bowl and returned it for the game-clinching touchdown.
Bailey, on the other hand, is the definition of shutdown corner. He does everything a cornerback needs to do well, and he is almost guaranteed to start. Even though he is great, Denver's secondary struggled last year.
Against the likes of Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Matt Schaub, Denver's secondary will have to step up. Because if it doesn't, a lot of pressure will be on Peyton and the offense.
Start Ronnie Hillman
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Ronnie Hillman may have been a third-round draft pick, but he has the potential to be a star.
Hillman is fast and explosive, and he has spectacular vision. If he sees a hole, he speeds through it. Hillman showed that you don't need to be big to dominate by playing very well at San Diego State. In his final season, Hillman ran for 19 touchdowns and ran for 5.5 yards per carry.
Even though Denver ranked first in running last year, it had somewhat of an unfair advantage. Denver ran the ball way more than most teams, and its top running back, Willis McGahee ran for 1,199 yards.
McGahee fumbled the ball six times (he lost four fumbles) and he scored five touchdowns. Not exactly what you want from your starting running back.
With Manning, the Colts ran the stretch play a lot. Since Hillman has speed, he can run that play better than McGahee. Since the Broncos will pass the ball a lot and since Hillman can get open quickly, he's a better fit in the passing game.
McGahee was good last year, but once Hillman gets a chance, he should be taking over the starting job.
Win Close Games
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Under the man pictured, the Broncos had no problem winning close games.
Thanks to Tim Tebow's clutch ability, the Broncos were able to sneak into the playoffs and made the second round. However, even with Peyton Manning, it will be harder.
Denver has the second-hardest schedule in the league, and they play a lot of clutch quarterbacks, such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. Manning has proven himself to be clutch, but he will have to continue to be clutch.
The Broncos could end up in a tight race for the playoffs, although I don't see that happening. However, in the playoffs, they will probably end up in a close game. The Broncos have some young players, and they will need to make big plays down the stretch.
It's safe to say Denver will need every win. Therefore, the Broncos will need to come together and perform in the clutch.
Peyton Manning Must Perform Like Peyton Manning
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You guys know Peyton Manning as the four-time regular season MVP and one-time Super Bowl MVP.
However, there have been concerns about his age and his neck and whether he can come back and be the same Peyton Manning he once was.
According to an ESPN report, he is looking good in OTAs and minicamps. He is hitting receivers in stride and throwing the ball very well. If he can play the same way against NFL defenses, the Broncos will be in good shape.
Manning will have Jacob Tamme and Brandon Stokley, former teammates, to throw to. He will also have Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Joel Dressen and Andre Caldwell, and he seems to have developed good chemistry with them.
While in Indianapolis, the Colts ran the stretch play and picked apart defenses with short passes. Decker and Tamme are good short targets, Thomas is a good deep target, and Hillman, Stokley, Caldwell and Dressen will get open.
Manning will have weapons around him. Luckily for the Broncos, he is throwing the ball well. If he continues to throw well, Denver will contend.