2014 Record: 12-4, AFC West Champions, 4-1 in last five
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1st: 3rd in DVOA* overall offense (3rd pass, 7th rush) | 4th in DVOA* overall defense (5th pass, 3rd run)
2nd: Top-5 most effective defense against No. 1 (fifth-best, 9 pass attempts per game, 51.3 yards per game) and No. 2 (2nd, 7.5, 41.6) WRs, according to Football Outsiders’ defense vs. receiver types chart.
3rd: Key loss: TE Julius Thomas | Key addition: WR Owen Daniels
4th: While the arrival of Gary Kubiak — and the team’s first fullback since 2012 — points directly at a shift to a ground game, one does not pay Demaryius Thomas $70 million to block. Peyton Manning, Emmanuel Sanders and Thomas will still get their opportunities. They lost Wes Welker and Julius Thomas. It means Cody Latimer, who has impressed, gets an opportunity to start. Thomas was a force to reckon with, especially in the red zone, but those opportunities will likely be spread to the other weapons without much trouble. New TE Owen Daniels is in his 10th season. Thirty-two of his 48 catches last year went for first downs, but he also only caught a little more than half (48) of the passes (79) thrown at him. He could provide decent value or be a big flop at age 32. While the passing game will still get a lot of attention, I’m a huge fan of C.J. Anderson’s potential this season, especially in a zone-blocking scheme with a fullback blowing up linebackers in front of him.
*Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, a Football Outsiders’ advanced NFL metric, measures a team’s performance on a per-play basis. The metric attempts to limit variance and provides a more realistic measurement of how good a team is regardless of matchup or situation, making it a strong indicator of future success. Read more about DVOA.