Denver Broncos: Hopes Run High In Mile High City

Josh RhotenContributor IMay 25, 2009

ENGLEWOOD, CO - MAY 03:  Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 particiaptes in practice during Denver Broncos Minicamp at the Broncos training facility on May 3, 2009 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Expectations for the Broncos are always high among the faithful in Denver, with this year being no different. This season's hopes are especially lofty because of last season’s struggles and disappointing loss to the chargers.

Realistically the AFC west is still one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. The division does not have the marquee quarterbacks of the AFC East or the raw power and potential of the Central, but that is not to say the division has stood pat from last year.

The Raiders have collected a few great play makers in their recent drafts and the Chiefs significantly improved at the quarterback position with Matt Cassel. Of course the Chargers are just a little older and still just a little more talented overall than Denver as they proved in last season’s playoff match up.

Even given the above, the Broncos have what it takes to compete for their division title and have a strong chance at a wild card bid. Though to think this team can go deep in the post season seems to be a little far fetched. 

As good as Orton was in Chicago, it may be hard for him to come to a new town, learn a new system, all the while trying to acclimate to new players. This process could be doubly difficult because of the switch in coaching systems and staff that the entire team is going though. Almost every player struggles at first in new surroundings, so seeing how he handles a town that never found their answer after Elway left should prove to be interesting.

Granted the wide receiver core anchored by Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall should help ease the transition, along with the traditionally strong running offense of Denver. Denver was one of the top offensive teams last year, if they are to compete in the division, Orton and the other new comers must perform well.

The other major question mark for the Broncos is the performance of their defense last season. They finished the season at low end of the scale in almost every category and while they drafted well, Robert Ayers will be a nice fit for an ailing Defensive line, the impact those players will have is yet to be seen. Champ Bailey can still lock people down, but the rest of the team has a lot of work in front of them.

Over all Broncos fans can be cautiously optimistic for the season. If Orton and new Coach Josh McDaniels can win at least two of their first three games against the Bengals, Browns, or Raiders the whole city can breathe a lot easier as they head in to a tough middle part of the season that features the Patriots, the Cowboys, and the Steelers.