The Denver Broncos head into the final weekend of the regular season with the best Vegas Odds to win the Super Bowl at 3-1. They can lock up the number one seed, a playoff bye and home field advantage through the AFC Championship Game with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs and a loss by the Houston Texans to the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning, along with an improved defense, has moved the Broncos from a NFL sideshow to the main event.
Over the course of Broncos history, now spanning six decades, they have faced a number of playoff opponents. This year marks the team’s 18th playoff appearance. Six of those appearances have resulted in an AFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl, and the Broncos have won the Super Bowl twice. Most of the Broncos playoff glory took place with John Elway, one of the NFL’s greatest all-time quarterbacks, under center. Elway is the architect of the current Broncos team.
The Broncos playoff glory has seen a number of highlights. The Oakland Raiders suffered a 20-17 defeat to them in the AFC Championship game in 1977. Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson famously said to John Madden, “It’s All Over Fat Man.” It would serve as the Broncos biggest victory until the magic of John Elway, the comeback kid, caught the Broncos by storm. In back-to-back years, Elway defeated the Cleveland Browns, first with “The Drive,” a 98-yard possession that tied the game late in the fourth quarter, and then with “The Fumble” by Earnest Byner in 1988. The Broncos two Super Bowl wins came against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII and the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII.
As Denver Broncos fans prepare for a playoff run they hope will land them in Super Bowl XLVII, they have an number of intriguing matchups awaiting them. Aided by Peyton Manning’s history, the Broncos playoff match-ups could end with more great memories and a third Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Robert Griffin III represents a new type of NFL quarterback, while Peyton Manning is the best of the establishment. The two could put on quite a show in the New Orleans Super Bowl. The Redskins have won three Super Bowls, including a 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. The Broncos two Super Bowls came with the tandem of current Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan in the same position for the Broncos, with current Broncos Vice President John Elway at quarterback. Who would prevail with the two facing off?
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers know what it’s like to have an elite quarterback. Joe Montana won four Super Bowls for the 49ers, including a 55-10 showcase over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV., which was the worst of the Broncos losses. Peyton Manning chose Denver over San Francisco, which surprised most observers. However, an overlooked fact in that process was that Manning took over an awful Colts team he inherited from now 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who was Indianapolis’ starting quarterback. It would be a chance for Harbaugh to finally come out on top over Manning.
New York Giants
The New York Giants still have an outside chance to make the playoffs. The Denver Broncos could face the defending champion Giants in the Super Bowl. It would create a nightmare scenario for Archie Manning and his family as the two Manning boys would square off. Eli vs. Peyton is a dream storyline for the NFL. The Broncos suffered a humiliating loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XXI: 39-20. Long time Broncos fans would like to redeem themselves
New England Patriots
This match-up could take place in either the divisional playoff round or in the AFC Championship. The two greatest quarterbacks of the modern NFL, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, would square off in this match-up, but the rivalry has been established through the Bill Belichick era. The Broncos have historically been on the losing end of their match-ups against the Patriots, but beat New England in a playoff game in Denver in January 2006, a game made famous by Champ Bailey’s interception return for a touchdown. The Broncos season ended last year with a loss to the Patriots, weeks after New England beat Tim Tebow and company in Denver at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. This year, the Patriots beat the Broncos 31-21, in a game where the Broncos were hindered by turnovers.
The Texans must win their game this week in order to hold the number one spot in the AFC and likely host the Broncos. The Broncos lost to the Texans 31-25 in week 3 before the Broncos found their rhythm. The loss was a combination of an inept defense and an offense that was not clicking early on. The interest in this game would include that Houston coach Gary Kubiak was a Broncos backup quarterback to John Elway for many years. If available two years ago, he likely would have been the Broncos head coach instead of John Fox.
The Denver Broncos have not fared well against the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs. They lost to the Colts 41-10 in the first round in 2004 and 49-29 in 2005. Of course, Peyton Manning was the quarterback passing all over those Broncos teams. He is now on the other side of the ball and having to face his team of 14 years would provide drama. If the Broncos could find their rhythm, would one of the most competitive athletes of all time let up on his former team?