NFL 2018 power rankings countdown No. 14: Denver Broncos

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 1: Defensive end Derek Wolfe #95 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after sacking quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 1: Defensive end Derek Wolfe #95 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after sacking quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

A preview of the Denver Broncos ahead of the 2018 season.

Check back every day for a new 2018 team preview in this year’s NFL power rankings countdown.

Today’s team is the Denver Broncos.

14. Denver Broncos

Keegan’s highest rated player: Von Miller, edge rusher

Biggest strength: Pass rush

Biggest weakness: Tight end

Best offseason move: Drafting Bradley Chubb

Worst offseason move: Not improving at guard

Game to circle on calendar: Week 4, vs. Kansas City

Breakout candidate: Royce Freeman, running back

Key players in contract years: Jeff Heuerman, Jared Veldheer, Matt Paradis, Domata Peko, Shaquil Barrett, Shane Ray, Bradley Roby, and Tramaine Brock

Offensive preview

The addition of Case Keenum will rejuvenate this offense, which has been in desperate need of a quarterback since Peyton Manning retired. Even if Keenum isn’t the player he was in Minnesota, he will still be a huge upgrade over Trevor Siemian/Paxton Lynch.

Devontae Booker and Royce Freeman will form a nice one-two punch in the backfield. If Freeman manages to wrangle the starting job by the midway point in the season, don’t be surprised if he is a sleeper rookie of the year candidate. This is a young backfield with a lot of potential.

The Broncos should have a strong receiving corps this season. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders aren’t the players they once were, but the addition of Courtland Sutton will make life easier for them.

This team’s biggest weakness lies at tight end. Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli both have potential, but it’s hard to believe in young tight ends.

The addition of Jared Veldheer at right tackle will add some stability to the offensive line, but I would still temper your expectations. The jury is still out on Garrett Bolles’ ability as a left tackle, and the only real difference-maker on this offensive line is center Matt Paradis.

Defensive preview

Denver has one of the best defenses in football, and its defensive juggernaut begins in the front seven. Derek Wolfe and Shane Ray have had some struggles in recent seasons, but they are both good complements to the defensive line. My favorite player on this line is run-stuffing machine Domata Peko.

The Broncos’ pass rush will be a force to be reckoned with thanks to the selection of Bradley Chubb, who was one of the top prospects in the 2018 draft. The Broncos’ decision to draft Chubb to play alongside Von Miller is reminiscent of when the Texans drafted Jadeveon Clowney to play with J.J. Watt.

The strongest player up the middle of this defense is Brandon Marshall, who is often underrated (which can happen if you are on the same defense as Chris Harris Jr. and Von Miller). One player to remember in this linebacking corps is rookie Josey Jewell, who excelled at Iowa.

The Broncos’ front seven will get the most attention this season, but the secondary will be a force as well. Chris Harris Jr. is one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Bradley Roby could take a big leap in a contract year. The Broncos traded Aqib Talib this offseason, which won’t help their secondary, but they were smart to sign Tramaine Brock as a replacement.

Darian Stewart and Justin Simmons should make for a reliable safety tandem. With all of the talent around them, this duo will have it easier than most others across the league.

Coaching staff/front office preview

The Broncos were smart to bring back Vance Joseph; it would have been absurd to fire a first-year coach who managed to win five games with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch at quarterback (Hue Jackson has won one game in two years and still has a job).

John Elway hasn’t been the greatest drafter as a general manager, but his free agent signings have been incredible. The worst decision Elway has made as GM (so far) was trading up for Lynch, but fans will quickly forget about that if Case Keenum plays like the player he was in Minnesota.

Elway is one of the 10 best general managers in football, and his teams always seem to be contenders (only one team during his tenure has had lower than a .500 record).

Overall outlook for 2018

The Broncos have a good shot at getting back to the playoffs this season, and I would be terrified to go into Mile High in January if this team managed to pull out an AFC West title. If they get Minnesota Case Keenum, it’s not absurd to believe that the Broncos could get back to the Super Bowl this season.

dark. Next. Top 30 moments in Green Bay Packers history

Previous teams:

15. Dallas Cowboys
16. Kansas City Chiefs
17. Seattle Seahawks
18. New York Giants
19. San Francisco 49ers
20. Indianapolis Colts
21. Detroit Lions
22. Arizona Cardinals
23. Chicago Bears
24. Oakland Raiders
25. Baltimore Ravens
26. Washington Redskins
27. Cleveland Browns
28. Buffalo Bills
29. New York Jets
30. Cincinnati Bengals
31. Miami Dolphins
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers