There is an old saying. "Knowing your enemies is half the battle." Scouting the opposing team is crucial to a team's success. Any clues into the mind of the opponent could be the difference between a win and a loss. For example, knowing that your opponent tends to favor screen plays on 3rd down situations gives your defense the advantage. So before TC even begins, let's take a look at the opponents that the Broncos face this year. Who has gotten better? Who has gotten worse? Who had a terrible draft and who had a great draft? Answers and a lot more after the jump
It should be noted that I will not be discussing divisional opponents. We have discussed at length the teams in the AFC West. There is no need to go over them again.
Jacksonville has been in a bit of a slump the past couple of years. In 2008 and 2009, they placed 4th in the AFC South. 2008 yielded a 5-11 record and 2009 resulted in a 7-9 record.
18.1 points per game- Ranked 24th.
336.6 yards per game- Ranked 18th
209.8 passing yards per game- Ranked 19th
126.8 rushing yards per game- Ranked 10th
23.8 points per game- Ranked 24th
352.3 yards per game- Ranked 23rd
235.9 passing yards per game Ranked 27th
116.4 rushing yards per game- Ranked 19th
Notable Off Season Activity
Cut DT John Henderson
Sign DE Aaron Kampman
Traded for LB Kirk Morrison
Jacksonville's offense is a one man army. Maurice Jones Drew is their only dynamic player on offense. QB David Garrard is extraordinarily average. He has thrown 30 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in the past 2 years with a 6.9 ypa. Mike Sims Walker is the only wide receiver on the team who had an impact last year. He caught 63 balls for 869 yards and 7 touchdowns. Their biggest problem last year was their offensive line. Jacksonville's o-line gave up 44 sacks last year and ranked 25th in the league according to NFL.com. They also had 124 qb hits which was the most in the league. They traded a 7th round pick to Miami for Justin Smiley. Smiley is a big upgrade at guard, but he is injury prone. Other then Smiley, Jacksonville made no attempt to improve their offensive line.
Jacksonville's biggest problem last year on defense was their inability to get to the qb. Jacksonville finished last in the league in sacks with 14, and no player had more than three. They signed Aaron Kampman to upgrade their pass rush, but he is coming back from an ACL tear and it remains to be seen how healthy he will be in the beginning of the year. The strength of the Jags defense is the linebackers. Daryl Smith, Kirk Morrison, and Justin Durrant are all young, solid players who should bring a boost to their run defense.
Jacksonville's offense relies heavily on Maurice Jones Drew. Without him, Jacksonville will undoubtedly struggle on offense. Their run defense should improve with the d-line additions. Don't expect Knowshon to get is first 100+ rushing game. Their pass rush is going to rely heavily on Aaron Kampman. All in all, this is a winnable game. Of course, a lot rides on how the offense works this year, but if Denver's D can limit MJD to under 100 yards, Denver has a pretty decent shot of winning. This will be a great test as to how improved the Denver's D-Line is.
17.5 points per game- Ranked 25th
316.8 yards per game- Ranked 21st
218.9 passing yard per game- Ranked 15th
97.9 rushing yards per game- Ranked 26th
24.4 points per game- Ranked 26th
356.4 yards per game- Ranked 24th
245.4 passing yards per game- Ranked 30th
111.0 rushing yards per game- Ranked 15th
Notable Off Season Activity
Traded for QB Charlie Whitehurst
Traded QB Seneca Wallace
Traded for RB Leon Washington
Drafted OT Russel Okung, FS Earl Thomas, WR Golden Tate, and CB Walter Thurmond
Last season could have been the end of the Matt Hasselback era in Seattle. Hasselback threw 17 touchdowns and 17 interceptions last season. tossed nine interceptions to just three touchdowns in the final three games of the 2009 campaign. This prompted a trade for QB Charlie Whitehurst. Nobody has seen Whitehurst play because he was buried behind Phillip Rivers on San Diego's depth chart. Seattle has T.J. Houshmandzadeh at wide out, but he struggled last year and finished with just 79 catches, 911 yards and just 3 touchdowns. They lost Nate Burleson to free agency which leaves Deon Branch and Deon Butler as the only other reliable receivers on the team. The offensive line gave up 41 sacks and had 91 qb hits. They drafted #1 offensive tackle prospect Russel Okung who should help out immediately. However, they lost top guard Rob Sims. They are replacing him with the familiar Ben Hamilton who fits into their zone blocking scheme. Justin Forsett and Leon Washington figure to be a two headed attack with Julius Jones as their backup.
Seattle is yet another team that has trouble getting to the QB. In 2009, Seattle had just 28. To make matters worse, their top sack leader last season (Patrick Kerney who had 5) announced his retirement. On the upside, Seattle has a terrific linebacker corps. Lofa Tatupu, David Hawthorne, Leroy Hill, and Aaron Curry make up an impressive linebacker core. Another thing for Seattle to worry about is their DB situation. CB Marcus Trufant is the only proven player on the team and he struggled last year due to a back injury. Other then him, there is no depth for the Seahawks.
Final Analysis: This is another winnable game. Seattle has a ton of holes on their team. Their offensive line, DB's, and WR's are just a few areas. Hasselback looks to start the season, but Whitehurst could start if he outplays Hasselback in TC and pre-season. The lack of pass rush is disheartening, but Seattle has a fairly solid run defense. In order for Denver to win this game, they are going to have to take advantage of their bad DB's. This game will also be an excellent time for Wink to pull out that attacking mentality.
26.0 points per game- Ranked 7th
363.1 yards per game- Ranked 9th
282.2 passing yards per game- Ranked 2nd
80.9 rushing yards per game- Ranked 32nd
19.2 points per game- Ranked 8th
339.2 yards per game- Ranked 18th
212.7 passing yards per game- Ranked 14th
126.5 rushing yards per game- Ranked 24th
Notable Off Season Activity
Released G Ryan Lilja
Resigned S Antoine Bethea and LB Gary Brackett
Drafted DE Jerry Hughes
Drafted LB Pat Angerer
2 words: Peyton Manning. Need I say more? He is the best quarterback in the league. Only he can lead a team that ranked last in rushing and get them to the Super Bowl. So, let's just say that their passing attack should be one of the best next season. There is some concern with Reggie Wayne who is 32, has knee issues, and wants a new contract. However, Peyton still has Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzales, and Dallas Clark at his disposal. Indy's running game didn't do anything this off season to improve. However, Donald Brown is entering his 2nd year and should produce more then last year. Peyton's offensive line wasn't that good either. They may have ranked 1st by only giving up 13 sacks, but they failed to open up lanes for the running backs. Peyton Manning is really just that good and makes his offensive line that much better.
Indianapolis was a below average team against the run. They gave up 126 yards per game on the ground. However, the rest of the Colts defense is so good that the run defense doesn't even matter. They have stud pass rushers Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and rookie Jerry Hughes was projected to be the top pass rusher of the 2010 class. Behind the pass rush, the secondary is pretty solid as well. The Colts have Kelvin Hayden who had a down year last year due to injury, but it fully healed and looking to rebound in 2010. They also have Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey. Both of them were rookies last year and played very well. Antoine Bethea and Bob Sanders make up one of the best safety tandems in the league.
Final Analysis: When you look at the Colts, you see a Super Bowl contender. There are few weaknesses and those weaknesses are masked by their strengths. Any Given Sunday, any football team can win. However, I highly doubt Denver pulls out a victory. Denver would have to play a perfect game and Manning would have to have a terrible game in order for us to pull this upset off.
22.1 points per game- Ranked 16th
351.4 yards per game- Ranked 12th
189.4 passing yards per game- Ranked 23rd
162.0 rushing yards per game- Ranked 2nd
25.1 points per game- Ranked 28th
365.6 yards per game- Ranked 28th
258.7 passing yards per game- Ranked 31st
106.9 rushing yards per game- Ranked 11th
Notable Off Season Activity
Signed OLB Will Weatherspoon
Signed DE Jason Babin
Signed CB Tye Hill
Chris Johnson is a Beast. Last season, he rushed for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns on a 5.6 ypc. He just restructured his deal so there will be no hold out in 2010. He is the leagues best running back and he has the potential to break the record for most yards in a season. The running game will be the focal point of the Titan's offense this year. The passing game is another thing. Vince Young finally won the job mid season. He threw 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He completed just 58.7 percent of his passes. The offensive line is one of the leagues best units. The line gave up just 15 interceptions and only 44 qb hits in 2009. The unit looks to be just as strong headed into 2010. The front office also gave Vince Young a new toy in Damian Williams. Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Justin Gage, and Williams should make for a very solid receiver core.
The defense struggled last year after failing to match the Redskins offer to Albert Haynesworth. The pass defense was 31st last season. The defense got 32 sacks last season. To improve the pass rush, Titans drafted DE Derrick Morgan. However, Morgan suffered some injuries in mini camp and was arrested for driving with a suspended license. So he has had a rough start to his NFL career to say the least. The Titans secondary figures to be improved now that CB Cortland Finnegan is healthy and terrible Number 2 CB Nick Harper is gone. The Titans 2 new linebackers, Gerald McRath and Will Weatherspoon are a bit of a question. Especially McRath being suspended for the first 8 games of the season.
This is a winnable game, but it will be a tough game. Chris Johnson is a beast and Denver will need to bring their A-game to stop him. This will be one of the toughest games for our defense. The Titans offense is a pretty complete unit. The defense is not so complete. Kyle Orton better be on his A-game. Knowshon is going to have to be effective as well. Winning this game is crucial. It is right in the middle of a very tough 4 game stretch (Indy, Titans, Raves, Jets). This is arguably the most winnable game of the 4. This game is a must win if Denver loses either of the first 2.
24.4 points per game- Ranked 9th
351.2 yards per game- Ranked 13th
213.7 passing yards per game- Ranked 18th
137.5 rushing yards per game- Ranked 5th
16.3 points per game- Ranked 3rd
300.5 yards per game- Ranked 3rd
207.2 passing yards per game- Ranked 8th
93.2 rushing yards per game- Ranked 5th
Notable Off Season Activity
Traded for WR Anquan Boldin
Signed WR Donte Stallworth
Signed CB Walt Harris
The Ravens are a pre season favorite to win the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco is a big part of those predictions. Flacco managed to pass for 3,613 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He did this with Ray Rice and Derrick Mason as the only reliable targets. This off season, it was Christmas time for Flacco. He woke up and had WR Anquan Boldin, WR Donte Stallworth, TE Ed Dickson, and TE Dennis Pita to play with. He must have been thrilled. With so many weapons in place, Flacco is poised for a monstrous year. Baltimore's running game is also not to shabby either. Ray Rice ran for 1,339 yards and 7 touchdowns on a 5.3 ypc. With a better passing game that defenses will have to respect, Rice could have an even bigger year in 2010. A big reason for Flacco and Rice's success is the offensive line. Baltimore's o-line is one of the best in the league. Michael Oher was a stud in his rookie season. Jared Gaither, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk and Marshal Yanda round out a unit that is easily one of the best in the NFL.
Baltimore finished in the top 8 in points, total yardage, passing yards, and rushing yards. It is one of the league's best units. However, Baltimore didn't have a good pass rush last season. The Ravens had just 32 sacks all season. Terrel Suggs had a terrible year considering he just got a 6 year, 62.5 million dollar contract. He only had 4.5 total sacks in 2009. One thing for Baltimore to be nervous about is the secondary. Domonique Foxworth is the only reliable corner who wasn't injured last season. Ed Reed is expecting to start on the PUP list which means he will miss the game against the Broncos. Thankfully, they still have solid strong safety Dawan Landry. As for the linebackers, Ray Lewis just turned 35 and behind him is a bunch of question marks. The real strength of this unit is the defensive line. Goodness it is just ridiculous how strong that unit is. Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata and rookie Terrence Cody make up what is arguably the best run stuffing threesome in the league. Don't expect Knowshon to get 100 yards in this game.
This is a very talented team. The offense is going to be one of the best in the league. The defense has some questions, but not enough to keep this team out of Super Bowl discussions. With the game being played at Baltimore, I don't see much of a chance for Denver to pull this one out. In fact, I think this will be the worst beating we get all year.
21.8 points per game- Ranked 17th
321.0 yards per game- Ranked 20th
148.8 passing yards per game- Ranked 31st
172.2 rushing yards per game- Ranked 1st
14.8 points per game- Ranked 1st
252.3 yards per game- Ranked 1st
153.7 passing yards per game- Ranked 1st
98.6 rushing yards per game- Ranked 8th
Notable Off Season Activity
Cut RB Thomas Jones
Traded for CB Antonio Cromartie and WR Santonio Holmes
Signed RB LaDanian Tomlinson and OLB/DE Jason Taylor
The Jets had the #1 rush attack and the # 31 pass attack. They made it all the way to the AFC Championship. How is that possible? Well their offensive line is just that good. 'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Damien Woody and Vladimir Ducasse make up what is arguably the leagues best run blocking offensive line. Ducasse is the only new player to the line. He is stepping in at guard for Alan Faneca who the team cut after the 2010 draft. The offensive line gave up 30 sacks and 53 qb hits. New York cut Thomas Jones after not wanting to pay a roster bonus. Their running back corps includes: Shonn Greene, Leon Washington, and Joe McKnight. Their running game looks to be just as strong as last year. Their passing game looks to be improved also. Last season, Mark Sanchez passed for 2,444 yards 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. While those stats aren't that impressive, the rookie out of USC has had a full year in the system. He also got a new toy in WR Santonio Holmes. When Holmes returns from his 4 game suspension, he will complete a passing corps that includes Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery.
The Jets defense was one of the best last season. This season should be no different. Darrel Revis is widely considered the leagues best cornerback. The Jets defense is heavily reliant on Revis' shut down skills. Behind Revis is Antonio Cromartie and 1st round draft pick Kyle Wilson. Safeties Brodney Pool and Jim Leonhard are bot solid safeties. The Jets D-line and Linebackers are solid as well. Linebacker David Harris is a stud who is in his contract year. NT Kris Jenkins was lost last year to a season ending injury. He is healthy now and that should improve the teams 8th ranked run defense.
On the surface the Jets look like a contender. They have the best running game, a top offensive line, and the #1 defense. Their championship hopes rest on the young shoulder of Mark Sanchez. Will he be able to perform enough to beat elite teams such as Indy, Baltimore and the Patriots? We shall see. Denver doesn't seem to have the fire power to beat the Jets defense. This game isn't as hard as the Baltimore or the Indy game, but it is still a game that we will have much difficulty winning.
20.6 points per game- Ranked 18th
290.8 yards per game- Ranked 27th
190.8 passing yards per game- Ranked 22nd
100 rushing yards per game- Ranked 25th
17.6 points per game- Ranked 4th
326.4 yards per game- Ranked 15th
229.4 passing yards per game- Ranked 21st
97 rushing yards per game- Ranked 6th
Notable Off Season Activity
Signed QB David Carr
Drafted T Anthony Davis
Drafted G Mike Iupati
Traded for WR Ted Ginn Jr.
The 49ers have all the ingredients on offense except for the most important, a good quarterback. QB Alex Smith finished 09 with 2,350 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 11 games. Smith is surrounded by talent. RB Frank Gore is the best offensive weapon by far. Gore rushed for 1,120 yards and had 10 touchdowns. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He also caught 52 passes for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Michael Crabtree played just 11 games last year after a prolonged hold out. However, in those 11 games he caught 48 receptions for 625 yards for 2 touchdowns. With a full off season to prepare, he could have a 1000 yard season. Vernon Davis is the other receiving threat. Last season, Vernon caught 78 passes for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was arguably the best receiving tight end last season. The offensive line looks to be improved from last year. Left tackle Joe Staley and right guard Chilo Rachal were very solid last year. With stout run blocking rookies Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis coming in at left guard and right tackle, the run game could even improve.
San Francisco had a very impressive defense last year. They ranked 4th in points allowed and 6th in rush yards allowed. The 49ers had 44 sacks last year and were tied for 3rd. However, no player on the 49ers had more then 6.5 sacks. That means that the pass rush is very consistent. Perhaps the heart of the San Francisco defense is LB Patrick Willis. Last season, Willis had 152 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 interceptions. Willis is arguably the best LB in the league. He is only entering his 4th year and will be the heart of the defense for years to come after signing a 5 year extension this off season. The only weakness on the 49ers is their secondary. Their #1 cornerback, Shawntae Spencer had a good year last year, but there is not much behind him. San Francisco has Nate Clemens and Tarell Brown opposite, but both were ineffective last year. Rookie safety Taylor Mays is a terrific athlete and a hard hitter. He could compete for playing time early.
San Francisco has a very solid team. They have dynamic players on offense and a very solid defense. The only thing missing is a reliable qb. If the 49ers had an elite qb like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady then they would arguably be pre season favorites to make the Super Bowl. So can the Broncos beat them? It will be very difficult to beat the 49ers. The 49ers have a solid defense and there are a bunch of questions about Denver's offense. This game isn't impossible to win, but Denver is going to have to play very well in order to win. This game is in London which should give both teams neutral ground.
10.9 points per game- Ranked 32nd
279.4 yards per game- Ranked 29th
167.9 passing yards per game- Ranked 28th
111.5 rushing yards per game- Ranked 20th
27.2 points per game- Ranked 31st
372.8 yards per game- Ranked 29th
235.2 passing yards per game- Ranked 25th
137.6 rushing yards per game- Ranked 27th
Notable Off Season Activity
Cut QB Marc Bulger
Drafted QB Sam Bradford
Sign QB AJ Feely
Resign FS OJ Atogwe
St. Louis drafted Sam Bradford with the 1st pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He is going to be the face of the franchise. However, 2010 will not be a good year for Bradford. He is going to struggle. He is coming from a shotgun offense and needs time to develop. On top of that, he is not surrounded by much talent. Running Back Steven Jackson is the only pro-bowl talent on the team. Last season, Jackson ran for 1,416 yards and 4 touchdowns on 4.4 ypc. However, even Jackson is cause for some concern. This off season he had back surgery. He is still only 27, but back surgery and carrying the load of the Rams for the past couple seasons has shown its effects. The offensive line is a big question mark. 2nd year tackle Jason Smith had his rookie year ended shortly due to a concussion. He is now penciled in as the blind side protector of Sam. Right Tackle Roger Saffold is a rookie. The interior of the line is stronger then the outside, but they can't make up for the inevitable pressure Sam is going to have this year. The Wide Receiver core consists of previously injured Laurent Robinson and Donnie Avery as well as rookie Mardy Gilyard and veteran Brandon Gibson. The receivers in general aren't talented enough to give Bradford the kind of help he needs.
The Rams were one of the worst defenses last year. Their best player, O.J. Atogwe was injured during the season and the team's pass defense suffered. The Secondary consists of Safeties Craig Dahl and James Butler. Cornerbacks on the team include Ronald Bartell, Justin King, and Bradley Fletcher. Fletcher was fairly good as a rookie last year until he injured his knee. He had knee surgery to repair his injury. One of the Rams most exciting young players is rookie linebacker James Lauriniaitis. Last season, he accumulated 120 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 2 interceptions. He is arguably the teams best defensive player headed into 2010. The surrounding linebackers include: Na'il Diggs, Bobby Carpenter, and David Vobora. David Vobora is a former Mr. Irrelevant and is arguably the teams 2nd best linebacker.
This is a very winnable game for Denver. In fact, it is probably the teams easiest game. The Rams have way too many holes to compete. I have seen numerous mocks that have the Rams in the bottom 5 again. With Bradford being a rookie, no help on offense, and tons of holes on defense, the team is a bottom dweller. All Denver needs to do is come in and not play down to St. Louis' level and they should walk away with a W.
20.4 points per game- Ranked 11th
344.4 yards per game- Ranked 14th
251.0 passing yards per game- Ranked 12th
93.4 rushing yards per game- Ranked 28th
20.3 points per game- Ranked 15th
346.4 yards per game- Ranked 20th
233.7 passing yards per game- Ranked 23rd
112.8 rushing yards per game- Ranked 17th
Notable Off Season Activity
QB Kurt Warner Retired
Traded WR Anquan Boldin
Sign OLB/DE Joey Porter
Cut FS Antrel Rolle
Lost ILB Karlos Dansby to Free Agency
Sign QB Derek Anderson
Looking at the 2010 Cardinals with Kurt Warner at the helm and looking at the 2010 Cardinals with Matt Leinart/Derek Anderson at the helm are two totally and completely different views. After the 2009 season, Kurt Warner announced his retirement after his storybook career. Anderson comes into Arizona with a chip on his shoulders after being cut by the Cleveland Browns. Leinart is fighting for the job after studying under Warner since being drafted in 2006. Both of these quarterbacks have much to prove, but neither of them are Kurt Warner. The Wide Receivers for the Cardinals are pretty good. Larry Fitzgerald is one of the leagues best. He accumulated 1,092 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2009. They finally traded WR Anquan Boldin. So Wide Receivers Steve Breaston, Early Deucet and Andre Roberts all going to have to contribute if Arizona's offense is going to compete. The running game is going to be based off of sophomore Chris "Beanie" Wells. Wells ran for 793 yards and seven touchdowns on a 4.5 average in his rookie season. He is going to be asked to have a bigger role this year. However, without Warner at the helm, defenses will narrow in on Wells and his ypc should go down. The offensive line is also a big question going into 2010. Offensive tackles Mike Gandy and Levi Brown were guilty of a combined 18 sacks and 18 penalties in 2009. Gandy is no longer with the Cardinals and his old job will be won by Jeremy Bridges or Brandon Keith. The interior line will consist of Deuce Lutui, Lyle Sendlein and Alan Faneca. Reggie Wells and Rex Hadnot will also be in the mix.
The biggest blow to the Cardinals defense was the loss of ILB Karlos Dansby. Dansby was arguably the Cardinal's best defensive player for the past couple years. He is going to be missed. The remaining linebackers include: Paris Lenon, Gerald Heyes, and rooke Daryl Washington. The Cardinals biggest questions on defense are it's pass rush and it's secondary depth. Arizona lost it's top outside pass rusher (Bert Berry) but signed Joey Porter. However Porter (33) looks to be on the decline. The defensive line looks solid. Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, and Dan Williams make up an impressive line. The secondary consists of FS acquisition Kerry Rhodes, SS Adrian Wilson, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and CB Greg Toler. Behind these players is not much of anything. The Cardinals better hope that their secondary doesn't get any injuries or they are going to get passed on all day.
The Cardinals are not a bad team, but they lost some key players and look to struggle this year. Warner was the heart of the offense while Dansby was the heart of the defense. The loss of both players is going to take some adjusting. The offense is sure to struggle more with replacing Warner then the defense will with replacing Dansby. Denver can win this game. It looks to be a defensive struggle. Whichever defense stops the offense most wins this game. I give Denver the edge at this point in time.
24.2 points per game- Ranked 10th
383.1 yards per game- Ranked 4th
290.9 passing yards per game- Ranked 1st
92.2 rushing yards per game- Ranked 30th
20.8 points per game- Ranked 17th
324.9 yards per game- Ranked 13th
217.9 passing yards per game- Ranked 18th
106.9 rushing yards per game- Ranked 12th
Notable Off Season Activity
Cut RB Ryan Moats
Drafted RB Ben Tate
Sign K Neil Rackers
Drafted CB Kareem Jackson
Houston's offense is not given the respect it deserves. They are one of the best in the league. They ranked 1st in passing yardage and 4th in total yardage in 2009. Those rankings can be attributed to a healthy Matt Schaub. He passed for 4,770 yards, 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, with a 8.2 YPA in 2009. Houston's offense is partially so prolific because of the weapons surrounding Schaub. Andre Johnson is arguably the best wide receiver in football. In 2009, he accumulated 101 receptions, 1,569 yards and 9 touchdowns. He is the centerpiece to Houston's aerial attack. Behind Johnson is WR Kevin Walter, WR Jacoby Jones, and TE Owen Daniels. Daniels suffered an ACL tear half way during 2009. He is supposed to be healed by Training Camp. When Daniels is healthy, he is one of the best receiving TE in football. Last years running game was bad. However, the addition of Ben Tate should drastically help that unit. The offensive line has some questions. Left tackle Duane Brown has allowed 19 sacks and 11 penalties in his short 2 year career. Right Tackle Eric Winston and Center Chris Myers are solid. G Antoine Caldwell and G Kasey Studdard are question marks heading into the season.
Last season, SS Bernard Pollard was arguably the Texans' best defensive player. He got 102 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 4 interceptions in 2009. #1 cornerback Dunta Robinson signed with the Falcons during the off season. They drafted cornerback Kareem Jackson and he has been starting in OTA's. Glover Quin is projected to be across from Kareem this year. Eugene Wilson is a good player when able to stay healthy. Houston has stellar pass rusher Mario Williams. He should be good for another 9-14 sacks. Connor Barwin was a situational pass rusher last season, but looks to get an increased role. He will need to step it up for the team's pass rush to get better. Houston's linebackers are pretty solid. DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing, and Zach Diles are a terrific 3 pair of linebackers.
Houston is a tough team. They have a ton of pieces in place. They are going to compete with the Colts to win the AFC South. The key to this team is Schaub staying healthy. Schaub showed last year that he can be a force when he is on the field. With a new run game, and plenty of weapons by his side, Schaub is poised for a big year. The Broncos are going to have a very tough time beating Houston. They are solid through and through. It's not impossible, but similar to the Jets game where it is going to be very, very tough to win.
Well there you go, that is a full analysis of all the teams we play this year. Our schedule may be easier, but not by all that much. Colts, Baltimore, and Jets are all Super Bowl contenders while the Texans, Titans, and 49ers are all very, very tough. I didn't even talk about the divisional games against the Chiefs, Raiders, and Chargers. This is a very crucial year for Josh McDaniel's Broncos. A winning record would be a good way to shut up the critics. However, right now I am expecting 8-8.