AFC West: McGahee Loss not critical for Broncos Success

The Denver Broncos might be the hottest team in the NFL as they are now three games in front of second place San Diego and own the tiebreaker. That gives the Broncos virtually a four game lead with just six games to play. After starting the season 3-3, the Broncos have reeled off four straight wins.

Besides the MVP quality season, Peyton Manning has been giving the Broncos, their starting back Willis McGahee has played a key role on offense. However, the Broncos lost the services of their starting back for up to eight weeks due to a tear of the MCL in his knee.

McGahee was injured last Sunday in the Broncos 30-23 win over the San Diego Chargers. Even though the Broncos have a big lead in the AFC West and their postseason participation is practically set, the loss of McGahee is sure to impact the team.

McGahee could possible return for the first round of the playoffs, but that is the earliest he would be able to help the team. Head Coach John Fox will help the Broncos with his idea of next man up, so they can prepare for life on the field within their injured back.

What the loss of McGahee means to the Broncos is they will now be relying even more on their quarterback Peyton Manning and his great ability to move the ball through the air. However, the tough running ability of McGahee was always a part of the Broncos game play. The veteran has rushed for 731 yards this season and has a 4.4 yards per carry average.

However, even without any huge games from McGahee of late, the offense for the Broncos has remained dominant. The team has scored 30 or more points in all of its past five games, which is a new team record. However, in those five games, McGahee ran for over 66 yards in just one.

Nevertheless, the Broncos cannot throw the ball 100% of the time on offense and will need crunch yards at certain times during the course of a game. Denver will now look to Ronnie Hillman their rookie third round pick to carry the load. Hillman has seen more action of late and has great promise due to an explosive step. Hillman however, is small in size and stature and is more of a back to use on the outside than a power back up the middle.

Denver will also go to Lance Ball for some tough yardage up the middle and Knowshon Moreno a former top pick. Denver has lost trust in Moreno as he has not played a down since the second week of the season and only has eight carries all year. However, chances are he will see much more time now.

In general, the Broncos should be equally productive offensively with their starting runner sidelined with an injury. There will be times though that the Broncos will need a running back that can help Manning, and that is when the loss of McGahee will hurt the Broncos.

However, come the end of the regular season the Broncos will be in the top two in the AFC and well on their way to playing in the AFC Championship looking for another berth in the Super Bowl.

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