I looked at all 32 teams and arrived at the top five in the best shape to go forward in 2013 from a football and business sense.
The criteria I used included:
• How good was the team in 2012?
• How many returning starters are already under contract?
• Is there a franchise quarterback under contract?
• How much salary cap space do they have at this point?
• Are the head coach and coordinators back for another season?
• How many significant players have five or less years of experience?
• How many veterans needed to be released for salary cap, age or injury reasons?
• Do they have a full complement of draft picks?
Taking a look at teams with these eight criteria as the barometer can put into perspective how realistic it is for a franchise to be ready for the 2013 season.
Here are my top five franchises poised to make a run in 2013 because they have the personnel, money and infrastructure in place. Keep in mind salary cap space fluctuates almost on a daily basis.
: The Broncos won 13 games in 2012, return 18 starters, Peyton Manning is under contract and they have close to $17 million in cap space. They have 10 significant players with five or fewer years of experience and all seven draft picks.
Denver did lose its offensive coordinator to San Diego, but Manning acts like the coordinator anyway.