USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

1.The Denver Broncos Offensive Line

The Broncos O-Line took a devastating hit back in late May when they lost left tackle Ryan Clady to an ACL tear. The team is 3-0 so far in the meaningless preseason but Peyton Manning has yet to throw a touchdown pass (backup Brock Osweiler has two, while third stringer Trevor Siemian has one). And although the Broncos obviously want to help keep Manning healthy and fresh for the regular season, the time he has had on the field with the first unit hasn’t looked like the Broncos offensive we have grown accustom to seeing since Manning joined the team in 2012.

The issues start up front as Coach Gary Kubiak had hoped to find the right combination of players to play on the line as the summer progressed. Rookie left tackle Ty Sambrailo and rookie left guard Max Garcia were hoped to be key contributors to the team’s success this season. But last week the team went out and signed two-time Pro Bowl selection and eleven year veteran Evan Mathis to help shore up the line. On Monday they traded tackle Chris Clark, the same Chris Clark who took over for Clady at left tackle in the 2013 season and helped led the team to a Super Bowl appearance. The Broncos moved Clark to the Houston Texans, in exchange for a seventh round pick in 2016. The move leaves the door open for the Broncos to use Ryan Harris and  second year tackle Michael Schofield.

With so much movement, and less than two weeks away from their season opener against Baltimore, eyes will be on this team and the offensive line as it has the responsibility of not only keeping #18 upright, but also running the ball effectively. Manning was sacked three times on Saturday versus the San Francisco 49’ers, two of those sacks coming from linebacker Navorro Bowman. Manning’s arm strength isn’t what it used to be and the plan for Denver this year is to run the ball more often. C.J. Anderson is expected to have a great year, health permitting but the O-Line will have to find its identity and fast.

 

2. Kansas City Passing attack

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

The Sporting News named Kansas City wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on their list of ’20 players to avoid in 2015’, for fantasy football owners. Their reasoning behind it? Chief quarterback Alex Smith. Smith has been notoriously known for not throwing the ball downfield, and it’s a product of the offensive systems that he’s played in. So when Maclin joined the Chiefs, debates raged on about what impact he would have in the KC/ Andy Reid system and with Smith as quarterback. Well if the pre-season is any indication of what’s to come, it could be safe to say that the Chiefs won’t replicate the 2014 season by not having a single wide receiver catch a touchdown pass.
The Chiefs are 3-0 so far in preseason and Maclin has 11 receptions for 99 yards along with two touchdowns. Rookie Fred Williams has 13 receptions for 159 yards and three TD’s.

As Smith and the receiving core develop a rapport, it could be scary for the other AFC West teams and the entire AFC in general. With Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis running the ball, and Travis Kelce at the tight end position, this offensive has the potential to be explosive, some of which we have seen in two of three preseason games where the Chiefs put up 34 points. They are averaging 27.3 points per game and although its only preseason, it is a good sign going forward.

 

3. Seattle Seahawks Special Teams

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Every NFL team has a weakness and for the 2014 Seattle Seahawks, the case can be made that special teams was their biggest hindrance. The Seahawks ranked 30th in kickoff return average and 25th in punt return average. It didn’t stop them from returning to their second Super Bowl in consecutive years but one of the things on Coach Pete Carroll’s off season ‘To-Do-List’ was to get better in this area.
The Seahawks drafted wide receiver and return man Tyler Lockett in the third round out of Kansas State. In his first preseason game versus the Denver Broncos, on his second return, Lockett took the kickoff 46 yards to the Denver 43 yard line. It was just one yard shy of Seattle’s longest run in sixteen games in the previous season. Lockett also ran one kickoff back 103 yards in the second half of that game.

On Saturday against the San Diego Charges, Lockett took a Mike Scifres punt and ran it 67 yards for a touchdown. The Seahawks were only able to muster a pedestrian 38 yard long all of last season as well.

So far Lockett has enhanced the special teams and the four draft picks that Seattle gave up to move into position to draft Lockett seem to have paid off so far. It’s frightening to think that the team that was one Malcolm Butler interception away from a Super Bowl title just got a whole lot better.

Do you think Denver’s O-Line will be ok this year? Will Jeremy Maclin make a huge difference for Kansas City? Do you think Lockett will have a good year for Seattle?

Leave your opinions in the comment section below.

Tayrance Allen covers the Los Angeles Lakers/ NBA for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter (@Twigganomics) and FaceBook/Instagram (@TwiggNATION)

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