The Broncos have a brutal schedule this year.
Despite playing in one of the least competitive conferences (on paper) this year, the Broncos have some heavy hitters to contend with.
In this article series, I will summarize the strengths, weaknesses, and key additions of each team on the Broncos schedule and how they will match up with Denver. I do not need to rehash their AFC West rivals, which I have already covered in the following articles:
Game 1, Sunday 9/13, at Cincinnati
The Bengals' strengths last year came from their defense. Although not a complete power house, they were able to end the season ranked 12th overall in the NFL for yards allowed.
Look for draft picks Rey Maualuga and Michael Johnson to give the defense another boost up the ranks. Key free agent additions Roy Williams and Tank Johnson will add a veteran presence and will make this defense a formidable squad.
Maualuga is an energetic player that tackles like a steam roller. He will definitely bring some intensity to the Bengals' defense.
Michael Johnson is a physical freak. I'm very interested in how he will turn out playing in the NFL. He should bring some speed off the edge and break the focus of quarterbacks for years to come.
The offense was dismal. It was one of the worst offenses in the NFL last year, ranking no higher than 29th in all major offensive categories. Carson Palmer did get injured four games into the season, but in my opinion it was the play of the offensive line that lead to their poor showing.
The offensive line let through 51 sacks last season. For a comparison, the Denver Broncos only allowed 12.
This is most likely why the Bengals drafted Andre Smith, the massive tackle from Alabama, with the sixth overall pick in this year's draft. Hopefully, this guy can accomplish what Levi Jones was not able to do: stop the pass rushers.
The Bengals added Laveranues Coles, the veteran wide receiver from the Jets. He should give them an awesome 1B receiver to go along with Ochocinco at 1A. As long as Palmer comes back healthy, the Bengals shouldn't be ranked as low as they were last year.
Cedric Benson should return healthy and now he has a good complementary running back in the speedy sixth-round choice Bernard Scott. With added depth in the offensive line, these backs should be able to get 1500 yards combined.
The Bengals lost one of their star players, in wide receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh. He was a big play-maker, but I think the signing of Coles should make up for most of his absence.
I see the Bengals as better than last year, and they should win at least six or seven games this year.
Unfortunately for the residents of Cincinnati, this will not show in their opening season game against the Broncos.
With their offense ranked as low as they were last year, this complements Denver's low ranking defense of last year.
Both team's squads have a long way to go, according to the rankings. If both squads only manage to get marginally better, then they are equally matched on this front.
The Broncos' offense was highly ranked, but, with the loss of Jay Cutler, they definitely have some questions going into the season. The Broncos still have their superb offensive line. With the addition of Knowshon Moreno, they should have no problem running over opposing defenses for the next decade.
The Bengals defense is better this year than last year, but it won't be enough to stop the Orange and Blue's rushing and spread passing attacks.
Broncos 21, Bengals 13
The official Team statistics can be found at the following link:
(The next article should cover the Sunday, 9/20 game versus Cleavland at home)