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Horse Tracks: The Denver Broncos will compete for the AFC West crown in 2018

With massive upgrades acquired in free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft, the Broncos are poised to compete for the AFC West title this coming season.

NFL: Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country.

As Tim Lynch highlighted yesterday, ESPN’s Mike Clay doesn’t think too highly in regard to the Denver Broncos competing at a high level in 2018 — predicting a paltry seven wins for the franchise this coming season.

You call me crazy, claim that I am wearing orange-colored glasses or am way too optimistic, but I have a good feeling about the team’s ability to do much better than the 5-11 record they sported last year. With all the additions that John Elway and his staff made this past offseason, it’s hard to believe that the Broncos are only going to net themselves two more wins. In fact, I believe they have what it takes to compete and win another AFC West title.

He certainly isn’t a top-flight signal caller, but Case Keenum will undoubtedly have more of an impact at the position than the handful of quarterbacks the team trotted out under center last year. Keenum led all quarterbacks in regard to red zone productivity in 2017 and protected the ball much better than most — two areas that were big issues for the team last year. If he can continue to progress and have a year similar to what he had with the Minnesota Vikings in his prior campaign, Denver is going to surprise a lot of fans and analysts across the nation.

The bane for the Broncos’ defense last year was their inability to cover running backs out of the backfield or tight ends on a regular basis. If his heart and mind are fully committed to football, I have no doubts that Su’a Cravens will be the Swiss Army knife defender the team needs to improve vastly in that regard. The team had a first-round grade on him when he came out of the University of Southern California, and if he reaches his potential, the Broncos would wind up a steal considering how little they had to trade to acquire his services.

In the offensive trenches, Jared Veldeer will prove to be a significant upgrade at right tackle over Menelik Watson and the myriad of underachievers the franchise has fielded at the position over the past several seasons. It’s hard not to get better in that respect when you are already at rock bottom.

Marquette King should improve the Broncos’ special teams efficiency and help swing the field position battle in their favor and veteran defensive lineman Clinton McDonald will provide much needed leadership, flexibility and depth that the franchise lacked in the defensive front in 2017. But the reasons for the Broncos enduring much more success in 2018 don’t stop with veteran additions — if they can get a big boost from their rookie class, there is no telling how good they could be.

When you think of some of the league’s best pass rushers, Von Miller tops the list. Add in first-round pick Bradley Chubb alongside Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett and Denver easily has one of the most fearsome groups in the entire league. Don’t forget about Jeff Holland either, who has a great shot of making the team’s final roster if he impresses in training camp.

Additionally, I have high hopes for Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton, who both have the talent and skills to make an immediate impact in the league. The Broncos haven’t gotten much quality production from their depth receivers the past few seasons, and with those two and second-year pro Carlos Henderson in the fold, I expect much better efficacy from the offense. I also feel that Royce Freeman can be a high caliber running back out the gate and help the Broncos’ improve tremendously with their rushing attack.

There are certainly some concerns with the team moving forward, but with all the improvements on both sides of the ball — can you really believe that this team is only poised to win two more games than last year? I believe the 2018 Denver Broncos will compete for the AFC West crown and should be considered the division’s front-runner in that respect. Hell, I’ll take it one step further — they will win the AFC West this coming season.

That’s my take and I’m sticking too it. Sound of in the comments section and let the community know how you think the Broncos will fair in 2018.

As always, thank you for reading and here is today’s offering of Horse Tracks.

Horse Tracks

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