Broncos Must Keep Pace in a Suddenly Competitive AFC

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Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) huddles with guard Orlando Franklin (74) and tackle Ryan Clady (78) and running back C.J. Anderson (22) and wide receiver Wes Welker (83) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) in third quarter of the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

For the past three or four seasons, the AFC has been a pretty underwhelming conference.

The Denver Broncos, of course, have benefited from this and have taken advantage of the many lowly teams within their conference. It’s only been in the previous couple of years where the AFC has seen a slight improvement in talent.

Still, the Broncos were never truly in danger of letting their division crown fall into another team’s hands last season and Denver has not entered the playoffs ranked lower than the second seed since their wild-card victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012. The largely weak AFC has obviously assisted the Broncos.

However, things are different now.

The tides have shifted quite a bit over the past week or so and the AFC is no longer the top heavy conference it once was. Let’s take a look at the current state of the Broncos inner-conference competition.