Insiders

Which NFL Teams Are Built Like The Broncos?

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The NFL is a copycat league, and after Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller’s dominant postseason we will most certainly see an even greater emphasis on edge rushers in the draft and free agency.

Even Miller is a free agent, so assuming he gets the regular franchise tag some lucky team can give up a pair of first-round picks and nine-figures to acquire him.

We’re going to look at the teams who are built to potentially replicate what the Broncos accomplished this past season.

Kansas City Chiefs

Denver’s AFC West rival smoked the Broncos earlier this season and pose a difficult matchup for the champs.  The reason for that is they appear to be a mirror image.

If you can’t have Von Miller, Justin Houston isn’t a bad consolation prize.  Add in a second elite pass rusher in Tamba Hali and Kansas City can heat up opposing quarterbacks.  They have a great linebacker in Derrick Johnson and nearly as good of a secondary led by Defensive Rookie of the Year Marcus Peters and Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry.

Offensively, Alex Smith is now better than Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler and the Chiefs have shown that they can run the football with or without Pro Bowler Jamaal Charles.

Whereas Denver has a better set of wide receivers, Kansas City has more of a playmaker at quarterback and at tight end.

If you’re looking for 2016’s version of the Broncos, the Chiefs are your best bet.

Houston Texans

If there’s one defensive player that’s better than Von Miller, it’s J.J. Watt.  The former first-round pick from Wisconsin is a game changer and makes life easier for fellow pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus.

Houston’s front-seven can wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, which makes their secondary even more effective.  As far as the secondary goes, the Texans don’t have the talent of the Broncos, but Jonathan Joseph played well last season and they have talented players.

The biggest similarity between the two teams is that they are both great when playing from ahead.  The biggest difference is that the Texans struggle to get ahead.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer is a very good backup masquerading as a starter and they don’t have a dominant running game to make up for their signal caller’s shortcomings.  Although there’s an elite wide receiver on the outside in Deandre Hopkins, there’s no legitimate complement opposite him or at tight end.

If Peyton Manning can win a Super Bowl without being able to push the ball downfield, it gives hope to a team like the Texans that Hoyer can do it.  They will need to improve their secondary and find a No. 2 receiver in the offseason to really take a step forward.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are the first team mentioned that doesn’t play a 3-4 defense, but they still have many of the same principle types of talent that Denver was able to win with.

Everson Griffen isn’t quite as good as Von Miller, but he’s a legitimate Pro Bowl defensive end and a great pass rusher.  Minnesota has a really athletic set of linebackers led by Anthony Barr, and a very good secondary with cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith.

The Vikings defense is good enough to keep them in any game and one would assume that Teddy Bridgewater and the rest of the offense will improve next year.  Minnesota can grind clock with the game’s best running back in Adrian Peterson, and they have plenty of outside weapons for their young quarterback, assuming they open up the offense more.

Other teams that should be mentioned:

Buffalo Bills

The Bills look like they’re equipped to win with defense, but they do need to address some positions.  Defensive end Mario Williams will be released and the team needs to find a legitimate pass rushing replacement.  Defensive tackle Kyle Williams is getting long in the tooth and the linebacker positions need an infusion of talent to fit Rex Ryan’s scheme.

New York Jets

The Jets have many of the pieces in place defensively, but it’s very difficult to believe that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can keep from self-destructing for three playoff games (especially considering he’s never made the playoffs in his career).  They are built to win like the Broncos, except most of their defensive talent is directly over the football.

Miami Dolphins

It’s difficult to envision Miami as a true contender due to the nature of dysfunction in the franchise.  Still, they have pass rushers, a dominant nose and athletic linebackers.  The Dolphins need to figure out what to do with linebacker Olivier Vernon and must improve their secondary around Reshad Jones.

Los Angeles Rams

It would take a quantum leap for the Rams to be considered legitimate contenders, but the pieces are in place defensively assuming they can get decent, not great quarterback play.  St. Louis can rush the passer and they have one of the most dominant players in the NFL in defensive tackle Aaron Donald.  They can run the ball with Todd Gurley, but who is going to make a big play in the passing game when they need it?


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.