Peyton Manning and Wes Welker have sent expectations a mile high. (Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Mile High Monday: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

This week marks the three month countdown to the start of the 2013 NFL regular season. As usual, those will prove to be the longest three months of the year, and it will be even harder for fans of the Denver Broncos.

On paper it looks like the AFC will be the weaker conference this season. That means it could be more predictable than the top-heavy NFC where a handful of teams could win a Super Bowl berth.

Denver and New England are the clear cut favorites to represent the AFC in the big game. Clearly, anything can happen in the NFL playoffs, but it would be surprising if one of these two teams doesn’t wind up playing in the Super Bowl.

All this means that Broncos Country is at a fervor to see their team chase the big prize. Every team is trying to win the Super Bowl every year, but for the Broncos the 2013 season will truly be “Super Bowl or Bust”. That kind of promise and expectation would make anyone eager to get things started.

And what isn’t there to be excited about? The Broncos have improved significantly from the 13-3 version that ran away with the AFC West last year.

Peyton Manning had a near-MVP season and all signs point to him being much better in 2013. His comfort level with his coaches, teammates and the system is noticeably enhanced. You can see it in the way he’s carrying himself during this offseason compared to last. He’s loose and focused on the task at hand. The free agent process, the move to a new team, and the constant distraction of his neck injury are all things of the past. It’s hard to imagine him playing any better, but that’s exactly what we’re going to see.

On top of that the offense around Manning has gotten more talented. The offensive line should be much tougher with the acquisition of Louis Vasquez, and one of the best wide receiving corps from a year ago has added All-Pro slot receiver Wes Welker.

The potential of this offense should be making your head spin. You can bet it will be doing that to opposing defensive coordinators when the season starts.

The team has also brought in a slew of talent on the defensive side. Granted, there are more questions on this side of the ball, but a strong unit last year should be just fine during their second season in Jack Del Rio’s system. The secondary has certainly improved, and if this year’s defense can get close to the sack production from a year ago they will be much tougher overall. And toughness is what we need to see from them come playoff time.

Last year the fan base was hoping the Broncos would win the division. This year all that matters is their playoff run. That’s quite a jump in expectations, but that’s what happens when the team is this good. It also makes the fans countdown the start of the season like Christmas day.

Until then, the NHL and NBA playoffs are merely an appetizer. Baseball hardly registers. Offseason preparation of your favorite NFL team is fun to follow, but it’s just the previews before the movie.

There’s only one thing that will satisfy Broncos Country, and that will be the feeling of waking up on the morning of September 5th.

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Tags: Denver Broncos Peyton Manning Wes Welker

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