There will be plenty of time to dive into the upcoming playoffs for the Denver Broncos, but let’s take just a moment to appreciate what they have just accomplished. On October 15th, they were 2-3 and behind 24-0 to the San Diego Chargers. If they lose that game, the Broncos are 2-4 and two games behind the Chargers in the AFC West. Maybe the Broncos would have still put it together to win the division, but that night changed everything for Peyton Manning and company.
The Broncos scored 35 straight points in the second-half and really have not been challenged since. They go into the playoffs on an 11 game winning streak and none of those games have been closer than seven points. Manning, who many doubted both before the season and especially after the 2-3 start has been terrific during that streak. He turned in the second best season of his career in terms of numbers, and now holds the team records for yards, touchdowns and completions.
The offense grew around him and by the end of the season; no offense in the league is playing any better. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas have gone from question marks to receivers who are almost impossible to cover one on one. A running game that struggled through the first two months is now no longer just a decoy; it is a real threat. The offensive line that many said was a run blocking unit only and could not protect Manning was terrific all season.
As great as Manning and the offense are; the real story of the 2012 Broncos is a defense that is possibly the best heading into January. After an October loss to the New England Patriots, the critics pointed to the defense as a major problem and would be the downfall. Since that game, no defense in the NFL has been better than the Broncos. They rank in the top five in every defensive category, and get after the quarterback better than anyone else. Von Miller is a candidate for defensive player of the year and the secondary covers everything that moves.
Are the Broncos a lock to win the Super Bowl? Of course not, but it is time to appreciate what they have done to this point because it is remarkable. If anyone would have said in October that it would be the Broncos who would end up with the top seed in the AFC, they would have been tested for foreign substances. However, that’s where they sit as the regular season draws to a close, from 2-3 to 13-3 and the number one seed. What a long, strange and great trip it has been.
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