Our obsession with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos has, admittedly, been an on-again, off-again affair. At the beginning of the season, it looked like the Broncos were unbeatable. Then, the squad lost to the Colts, who have been beating some of the best teams in the league while faltering to some of the worst. The Broncos immediately went on another run before losing to the Patriots. With the NFL apparently full of mediocrity, are the Broncos once again the Golden Boys?
If Denver can win out, which shouldn’t be too difficult beyond this weekend’s matchup against the San Diego Chargers, the team will hold home field advantage throughout the playoffs. In short, that means no trips out to Foxboro to play the Patriots. Instead, Denver could stay home and play in front of a hometown crowd. That’s a plus in Denver’s column.
In addition to the advantage of playing at home, the Broncos will also be getting valuable practice in the elements. Keep in mind the Super Bowl is being played in New York this year, meaning cold weather is virtually a certainty, and snow is a distinct possibility. Warm-weather teams or franchises playing indoors won’t have the advantage (for once). Again, another plus in Denver’s column.
There are a number of reasons the Broncos may not be analysts’ favorite heading into postseason play. For one, Peyton Manning has been to the Super Bowl just twice in his career, winning only once. For most players, that one victory would be a dream come true, but for a quarterback with the regular season statistics and prestige that Manning garners, one would believe he’d have won more Super Bowls than guys like Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.
Although the Broncos play in a cold-weather environment, their team isn’t necessarily built to perform best in such a climate. The Broncos sport a relatively suspect defense and a high-octane passing game. If weather conditions become awful in the playoffs, the Broncos may struggle to beat other teams that sport an efficient offense and a great defense such as the Chiefs.
If there was ever a season to avoid betting on Super Bowl favorites, it would be this year. At various points throughout the season, the Broncos, Patriots, 49ers and Seahawks have all been the consensus pick to win it all, and each of those teams has fallen flat at some point. In addition, there are a number of teams charging hard towards the playoffs that could topple any team in the league.
That being said, if we had to pick just one, the Broncos should still be the favorite to win the big game. I say “still” because they should have never been replaced. Peyton Manning is playing as well this year as he’s ever played, and although the Broncos’ may not have an elite defense, their offense rarely misfires enough to cost them a game. Other teams worth mentioning such as the Patriots, 49ers and Seahawks all have flaws that can be more easily exploited than the Broncos’ defense.
There is no unanimous pick to win the Super Bowl this year. No single team has risen above the crowd, but there’s no doubting the Broncos’ ability to win games, often making it look easy. Given the choice, they’re my pick to win it all, even if that’s only because they seem to be the most logical pick following a completely illogical season.