I'm confident that the Broncos will make the playoffs this year - here's why.
1. Much stronger play at the QB position - Orton will prove that he is a great fit for this system. When Orton is out for a game or two, we will have much stronger backup play. Prediction: Orton passes for 4,000+ yards and 25+ TDs.
2. Much improved run defense - The run defense will prove tougher - keep in mind, we were pretty bad last year, so even an average run defense is a big improvement. The linebackers as a unit will show a better understanding of the scheme and their roles. This will lead to a more disciplined run defense - fewer big runs. Prediction: Our rushing defense ranks in the top 15 (we were 26th in '09 based on yards allowed).
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3. Favorable schedule after the bye - Last year, the Broncos lost their mojo after the bye. This year's schedule will enable us to build momentum down the stretch. Prediction: 5:3 after the bye.
4. Low expectations - Everybody is expecting the Broncos to be mediocre, which will lead to many teams looking past the Broncos on their schedules. Expect some surprise upsets (like early last year). Predictions: Of the following "consensus playoff teams," we upset at least two: Colts, Jets, Ravens or Texans.
5. More offensive creativity - McDaniels is an offensive innovator, but he couldn't show that last year. This year the players will be more comfortable in their roles and, equally important, McDaniels will have more confidence in them. Prediction: We see some flashes of innovative brilliance (I know that's vague but you'll know it when you see it).
6. Breakout offensive years - We're going to see huge years from our offensive skill players. Prediction: Gaffney (1,000+ yards), Moreno (1,000+ yards / 10 TDs) , Royal (70+ catches) as well as great games from Decker and Thomas.
Overall, I have us at 9:7 but squeaking into the playoffs. That's how I see it from the upper deck (Section 531). Here's to a great season. Go Broncos!