I don't know how anyone is supposed to compete in the AFC right now. The Broncos and Patriots are in a cold war at the moment just stockpiling assets.
Denver has brought in the unheralded TJ Ward, the versatile cover man Aqib Talib and Pro Bowl outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. John Elway is attempting to make his defense every bit as formidable as his offense. The loss of Eric Decker will hurt but the defense will make the games much easier for the offense. They should have the ball a little bit more and hopefully will not have to play in shoot outs quite as frequently in 2014. I think Denver has poised themselves to once again play in the Conference Championship game and just because of Manning's edge in receiver talent, I would pick him over Brady to be hoisting the Lamar Hunt trophy in late January.
The Patriots haven't been quite as busy but they have been hard at work. On paper right now, I would argue that the Pats defensive unit is the stronger of the two. With the additions of former All-Pro corner Darelle Revis and ex-Seahawk Brandon Browner, the Pats secondary has vastly improved. They still need to sure up their front 7, particularly their linebacking corps, but they are well on their way.
However, the Pats are making moves offensively bringing back slot receiver Julien Edelman. They are keeping some consistency for Tom Brady with his receiving corps. With Gronkowski on the shelf for a while, Brady will be able to spend another year developing his rapport with young receivers Aaron Dobson and Kembrell Thompkins. The also just added former Panther Brandon LaFell who adds more depth and so good hands to a young receiver group.
Without question, this matchup between the Patriots and Broncos will be good this year. It could be just as good as Seattle versus San Francisco. This will be an entertaining battle for supremacy in the AFC and we haven't even reached the draft yet.