NFL Prediction (07/12/13)
Each day over the next two weeks we will reveal a Prediction of the Day, where we share an interesting player or team prediction leading into the 2013 NFL season. Rams vs. Falcons, Tampa Bay's defense, Broncos/49ers, Ravens repeat?, Sacks will Skyrocket, Playoff teams missing the playoffs, New playoff teams.
Prediction: The Denver Broncos will lead the league in rushing touchdowns.
Why it is likely:
In 2012, the Broncos finished second in the league in scoring behind the New England Patriots. While Denver has improved its offense and appears to be retaining its up-tempo style, the Patriots have lost major offensive weapons and may need to slow the game down.
Leading the league in scoring is only one piece to the puzzle, though, as the Broncos will still need to shift focus near the goalline for this to happen. Enter second-round pick Montee Ball from Wisconsin.
In the vast majority of cases, college touchdown statistics (or previous year’s NFL TD stats for that matter) have little to do with upcoming professional performance. When a high powered offense that struggled in short-yardage and goal line rushing circumstances drafts the FBS all-time leader in rushing touchdowns and clears the way for him to play a significant role, however, the situation is different. Note that New England threw 34 passing TDs last year, yet still lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 25. Denver could do something similar this year.
Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas. Even if Denver does lead the league in scoring, a play-making aerial attack may not leave many opportunities for Montee Ball or others to pick up red zone touchdowns.
In 50,000 simulations of the 2013 NFL season, Denver averages 22.3 rushing touchdowns, which just eclipses San Francisco's 21.8 rushing scores to lead the league. Of those, Ball is projected to score just over half of the Broncos' TDs on the ground. It’s certainly no lock and this does not mean that Ball should be a top five fantasy selection, but Denver’s pace, offensive line and skill position weapons make every facet of this offense scary (good), including the ground game.