The 2012 Denver Broncos rose above all expectations. At least I feel they did. Both individually and as a team, this edition of Denver Broncos football has been as memorable as any we have seen in over a decade. The team over-achieved in Vegas' eyes as well.
Prior to the season, the Wise Guys put together some prop bets regarding the Broncos and I took my best stab on these Over/Unders. Let's take a look at how well I actually did:
Broncos Player Performance Props
Peyton Manning - Total Passing Yards in the 2012 Regular Season
My First Take: UNDER - Not because I don't think Manning is capable of hitting 4250 yards. I think he is primed and ready to do it. I think the Broncos want to run the ball, especially if they are playing from out front. In order to hit the number, Manning would have to average 266 yards per game - certainly feasible - but I think 3900-4100 is more likely.
What Actually Happened: OVER(4,659) - Manning not only beat 4,250 years, he destroyed it. The 4,659 yards were they 2nd highest of his career, coming in just 41 yards under the 4,700 yards he threw for in 2010. He needed 450 completions to do it then, however, while completing 400 in 2012. LOSS
Peyton Manning - Total Passing Touchdowns in the 2012 Regular Season
My First Take: OVER - The Broncos best Red Zone offense will likely be Manning - this has been an area the team has struggled in past seasons. Manning's ability to get the offense into the right play despite down/distance and location give the Broncos a huge weapon and to be honest there is no one I'd rather have the ball inside the 5 than #18. I think 33-36 is the target.
What Actually Happened: OVER(37) - I was right on the money with this one. Manning was back to his touchdown-throwing ways, and his 37 in 2012 were also the 2nd highest of his career(He threw 49 TDs in 2004). Along the way he eclipsed the 400TD mark and stands behind only Brett Favre in TD passes all time. WIN
Peyton Manning - Total Interceptions thrown in the 2012 Regular Season
Over/Under 15 ½
My First Take: UNDER - This number surprised me. While Manning did throw a few interceptions in the preseason, he is very good at protecting the ball and with the Broncos playing a tough schedule at the start of the season I believe he'll be even more careful. Sure, there is going to be some miscommunication along the way but this number should be in the 11-13 range.
What Actually Happened: UNDER(11) - Once again the gut feeling was on the money. Manning had averaged 15 INTs per season his last 4 seasons in Indianapolis. His 3 INT performance in the 1st half against the Falcons had me a bit nervous early in the season, but Manning really settled in. If the injury has done anything, it has forced Manning to take even better care of the ball and the Broncos were extremely efficient because of it. WIN
Willis McGahee - Total Rushing Yards in the 2012 Regular Season
Over/Under 900 ½
My First Take: OVER - But not by much. McGahee is going to get a bunch of carries early in the season, but as the season goes on, and Manning gets more comfortable, I could see the short passing game becoming the running attack and McGahee - along with Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman - becoming targets out of the backfield. I'll give McGahee 950 yards rushing this season.
What Actually Happened - We all know the answer - McGahee got hurt. He finished his season with 731 yards in 10 games. That averages out to 73 yards per game. Had McGahee stayed healthy and just averaged what he had done earlier in the season, McGahee would have finished with 1169 yards, well above the O/U line. LOSS
Willis McGahee - Total Rushing Touchdowns in the 2012 Regular Season
Over/Under 7 ½
My First Take: UNDER - See my take above regarding Manning's TD potential. McGahee will likely get into the End Zone a total of 7 or 8 times this season, but not rushing alone. I feel better about 5 rushing TDs.
What Actually Happened - If I 'lost' the O/U on yards because of McGahee's injury, then I won this. McGahee finished the season with 4 rushing touchdowns, or 1 every 2.5 games. Average that out, and McGahee would finish with 7, meaning the Under was the winning play. WIN
Demaryius Thomas - Total Receiving Yards in the 2012 Regular Season
My First Take: OVER - I know Eric Decker looks to be Manning's favorite target right now, but the explosive plays are going to come form Thomas. I see Decker having more receptions, but Thomas piling up more yards. I'm thinking 1150 for Thomas in 2012.
What Actually Happened - OVER(1,434) - This is a win for me as well, though I was way off on the total. Thomas had a breakout season and became the deep threat Josh McDaniels envisioned when he selected him over Dez Bryant in the 2010 NFL Draft. Thomas became just the 3rd Broncos wide receiver to eclipse the 1400 yard mark, joining Rod Smith(1,602 in 2000) and Brandon Lloyd(1,448 in 2010). WIN
Demaryius Thomas - Total Receiving Touchdowns in the 2012 Regular Season
Over/Under 7 ½
My First Take: UNDER - Thomas will score on big plays, but the Red Zone is going to be Decker/Tamme/Dreesen territory. Go with 5 TDs for Thomas.
What Actually Happened: OVER(10) - The winning streak comes to an end with a dramatic thud. Thomas got hot late in the season, scoring 6 TDs in the Broncos final 7 games. Thomas became a favorite target of Peyton Manning late in the season, being targeted 22 times in the final 2 games(he made 16 catches for 224 yards) LOSS
Eric Decker - Total Receiving Yards in the 2012 Regular Season
Over/Under 1000 ½
My First Take: UNDER - Like I said above, I think Decker will approach 90 receptions this season, but will finish in the 900-yard-range. He's going to be a huge force down at the goal line, however.
What Actually Happened: OVER(1,064) - I had the receptions right(Decker finished with 85) and was on the money with the touchdowns(13) but what I was wrong about was the average. I pegged Decker to finish around 10 YPR. He finished at 12.5. That meant the difference between, say, a 950 yard season and a 1,064 yard season - and the difference between winning and losing. LOSS
Eric Decker - Total Receiving Touchdowns in the 2012 Regular Season
Over/Under 7 ½
My First Take: OVER - Decker is going to become Manning's favorite end zone target and will keep feeding it to him until someone stops it. No one will until Decker is sitting with 15 TDs.
What Actually Happened: OVER(13) - Eric Decker did, indeed, become Peyton Manning's favorite end zone target, but it took longer than I thought. After really targeting the tight ends early, it was Decker and Thomas that became the TD machines late in the season. Decker grabbed 5 touchdown passes in the final 3 weeks of the season including 2-each against the Browns and Chiefs. WIN
Elvis Dumervil - Total Sacks in the 2012 Regular Season
Over/Under 8 ½
My First Take: OVER - Maybe this is more of a homer choice because if the Broncos defense is going to be Championship Caliber I believe whole-heartedly that both Elvis Dumerviland Von Miller need to collect double-digit sacks. If all goes according to plan, the Broncos will have leads in several games this season with opponents needing to throw to get back into games. That means Doom and Miller will have plenty of opportunities to pile up the quarterbacks.
What Actually Happened: OVER(11) - My first sentence above says it all. The Broncos DO have a championship-caliber defense, and both Dumervil and Miller finished with double-digit sacks. In fact, the Broncos finished the season tied for first in sacks as a team. Dumervil battled through a shoulder injury midway through the season and finished strong, netting 3 sacks in his final three games. WIN
Von Miller - Total Sacks in the 2012 Regular Season
Over/Under 10 ½
My First Take: OVER - See my explanation above. Miller is primed to become an absolute BEAST in his second season and Jack Del Rio is going to allow him to do it. 17 sacks is not out of the question.
What Actually Happened: OVER(18.5) Von got to 17 sacks, alright, the blew right past it. His 18.5 sacks broke Dumervil's team record(17) and put Miller smack-dab in the middle of Defensive Player of the Year talk. It's Miller's versatility that has helped the Broncos defense ascend to the top of the NFL, however. Miller has become a much better defender against the run and holds his own against the pass. Miller finished 2012 with 28 tackles for loss, 6 forced fumbles and an INT he returned for a touchdown. WIN
Champ Bailey - Total Interceptions in the 2012 Regular Season
Over/Under 2 ½
My First Take: OVER - While Champ continues to defy his age, I think the arrival of Manning will re-energize and re-focus Bailey even more than usual. He knows, with the offense the Broncos are likely to have, that a couple huge plays on defense could be all the team needs. I like Bailey to finish with 5 picks this season.
What Actually Happened: UNDER(2) - Teams continued to refuse to throw at Bailey, despite being down in many games this year. They did throw at Chris Harris and Tony Carter and the two young guns made them pay time and again. Harris finished the season with 3 interceptions(2 TDs), while Carter grabbed 2 interceptions himself(1 TD). Bailey is still at the top of his game, however, especially in run support, and racked up his highest tackle total since 2007. LOSS
The results? A total of 12 prop bets and I finished 7-5, meaning I would have won a bit of cash. The best part, however - is the fact the Broncos are a Super Bowl contender and the offense and defense are playing at an extremely high level.