NFL Sunday Night Football saw the Denver Broncos complete their transformation from a good team to a team to be seriously reckoned with in the AFC going forward. Understand what the Broncos have done up to week 8 before you nix that statement and turn off your computer while cursing me for my ignorance. Finally, have an open mind to how Executive Vice President John Elway has put together this team very carefully, and you will notice that they very well may become the best team in the NFL come playoff time.
Let’s begin with the fact that the Broncos have played the toughest schedule than any team in the NFL up to this point. Although they have losses against the New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons, they put together second halves that were superb to not be embarrassed in any one of those games. Last night against the New Orleans Saints, the country saw Peyton Manning and his Broncos completely dismantle Drew Brees and Who Dat Nation with their first complete game of 2012.
This is where it gets tricky for the rest of the league. Forget the questions surrounding Manning. They are no longer a viable discussion. Elway has built this team with a solid mix of veterans and young talent that because of Manning, have come together to work as a unit. Anyone who thought it would not take at least this long for the Broncos to mesh together must not realize how hard it is for a QB that was out of the NFL last year, come to a new team with a new offense, and just blend in.
The Broncos, after eight weeks have the league’s fourth best offense and eighth best defense behind the most improbable of players. Knowshon Moreno has been inactive for the past five games, and Ronnie Hillman has stepped in admirably and had his breakout game yesterday. Tracy Porter has been out with seizure symptoms and Chris Harris and Tony Carter have played like clones of Champ Bailey. Rookie Derek Wolfe has been a stout defender on the line and looks like the best pick in this year’s draft for the Broncos up to this point. Add to that the outstanding LB play of Wesley Woodyard filling in for suspended D.J. Williams and the constant improvement of the linebacking unit as a whole.
Manning has complete and utter control of the offense as you see him consistently on the sidelines going over plays and conversing with his younger teammates like Demaryius Thomas, Hillman and Eric Decker. The Broncos pose the only other WR tandem in the league other than the Falcons that are in the top 15 in fantasy points in the NFL. Willis McGahee is running like he is 25, not 30, and the offensive line guards Manning as if he were the Pope.
Is it that far-fetched when looking at the schedule ahead to think that they can’t run the table against teams that now have a winning percentage of .343? Their next nine games are against the Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, San Diego Chargers, two against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Unless the Ravens miraculously get healthy and field their defense of 2000, even that game should be a win.
The Broncos have had 13 straight nationally televised games dating back to last year, so it may not be that difficult for anyone to see the transformation this team has taken. Sunday will mark the fourteenth game and you might want to see just how the Broncos handle the Bengals. Manning is a 300yd/3TD machine and the secondary has been absolutely impossible to crack lately for opposing QBs. Forget everything you hear, just join CBS at 1:00 on Sunday and see for yourself. I picked the Broncos to finish 11-5 in the preseason, and win the AFC West. This Broncos team may even be better than I, or anyone had imagined.