For the first time in a decade, Peyton Manning won’t lead his team into the playoffs. Here are four good reasons why the Broncos will miss the NFL's "second season" in 2012.
  1. Timing with receiving corps 
  2. Learning a new offense
  3. The defense will hit a slump
  4. Brutal schedule
 
Timing: We all know you can build a Dream Team on paper.  However, getting the actual players to play like a dream isn't easy (just ask Mike Vick and the Eagles). The Broncos receivers have never had a QB like Peyton Manning, and now Manning will be demanding more from them then ever before. The receivers will need to run crisp routes with no room for error. When you have a pass heavy offense the routes has to be perfect. If you’re having a hard time believing this, look at the Colts from 2010, they went 10-6 with Manning adjusting to all new receiving corps.
 
Learning a new offense: Manning won't be the problem here.  He'll be writing the playbook.  But the rest of the team will need to learn how to play in this type of offense. Manning will not accept any mistakes, a missed block or bad read by the line will get Manning laid out.  In 2010, Manning had games with 3 or 4 interceptions causing them to lose more then they should. Many of those INT's were as a result of a receiver running the wrong route or simply not being where Peyton thought he would be.  When you’re playing in the clutch and your calling plays, one or two mistakes can be 14 points. This is why I think those little mistakes will add up against great defensive units.

The defense: The Broncos won’t have a top 10 defense in 2012. They will be middle of the pack at best.  If you notice whenever you have an elite QB, your defensive stats go down. If Manning is passing for 300-400 yards a game, then the other team will be trying to keep up. I believe the Broncos' defense will finish somewhere in the No. 12-17 range overall.  Cornerback will be a major issue and will be exposed this year. If you’re going to run a pass heavy offense you better have the corners to stop the other team.
 
Schedule: Steelers, Falcons, Texans, Raiders, Pats, Chargers, Saints, Bengals, Panthers, Chargers, Chiefs, Bucs, Raiders, Ravens, Browns, Chiefs.

Let’s break down some of tougher games and see why 2012 won’t be a cakewalk.
  • The Steelers have the league’s best defense and a healthy Big Ben will pose a huge challenge for Manning, who's still unproven as he returns from neck surgery.
  • The Falcons should be an evenly matched game, but they play tough at home. Just look at the Falcons record in the dome (20-4 in Matt Ryan and Mike Smith's first three years in the dome).
  • The Texans put the NFL on alert last year with what they did with a 3rd string QB starting and a power run game and defense. The Texans can do it all because and hold the edge at RB, WR, and also on defense.
  • The Patriots’ Tom Brady has been to five Super Bowls and will lead the best offense in the AFC. The Patriots addressed their needs in draft moving up twice to fix the defensive issues that plagued them last year.
  • The Saints give the Broncos a break here because the Saints only average 25 PPG on the road compared to 45 at home.
  • The Ravens’ defense is no joke and keeps this game close enough and it will turn into a dogfight. The Ravens defense has always given Manning fits, it’s just the Ravens offense that has failed them in the past. They now have Rice playing at his best and two great WR’s and a solid TE to complete the offense.
  • The Chargers are being written off by everyone and I don’t know why. They picked up the best 4-3 DE in the draft and it will show in these two games. If the Broncos let this turn into a shootout they will lose. The Chargers have the pass rushers to beat Manning like a drum. The Chargers and Broncos games should be PRIMETIME. I want to see these two Pro Bowl QB’s duking it out for a division title.
In closing, every year new teams make the playoffs and favorites fall short. Just look back to 2011 playoff teams compared to 2012 playoff teams. Heavy favorites fell short of the playoffs, it happens every year. This year, the Broncos will be one of the teams that are left on the outside looking in.