2013 Record: 13-3
Key player departures: CB Champ Bailey, C Chris Kuper, G Wesley Woodyard, LB Robert Ayers, WR Eric Decker, RB Knowshon Moreno, DE Shaun Phillips, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Free-agent acquisitions: CB Aqib Talib C, Safety T.J. Ward, DE DeMarcus Ware, WR Emmanuel Sanders, C Will Montgomery C
Positions of need: RB, LB, G
Analysis: Denver is admittedly all-in for a Super Bowl in 2014. John Fox received a new three-year extension, and John Elway was also extended and given more power within the front office. This will be the third year with Peyton Manning at QB and there is no guarantee that there will be a fourth. After setting every major offensive record in 2013, the Broncos entered Super Bowl XLVIII very confident, but Seattle was younger, faster and more prepared, which resulted in a 43-8 drubbing of the aging, one-dimensional Broncos.
Elway won two Super Bowls late in his career in large part because the Broncos were so balanced. The defense has gotten a facelift with the additions of big names like Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware in free agency -- and it could add another piece in the draft, such as Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier -- but the offense seeks that balance the late-90s teams had. Denver has to find a way to run the ball effectively and replace the production of Knowshon Moreno. That will be the responsibility of Montee Ball and likely someone selected in the upcoming draft (+Washington Huskies) Bishop Sankey or +Arizona Wildcats Ka'Deem Carey would work). Manning was sacked only 18 times last season -- the lowest among all QBs that played a full season -- and with Kuper retiring, along with the departure of Zane Beadles (+University of Utah Utes), offensive line is going to be a focus in the draft. Keep an eye on guards David Yankey (Stanford) and Xavier Su'a-Filo (+UCLA Bruins), as well as center Weston Richburg from +CSU Rams.