Peyton Manning is 37 years old and he has a high ankle sprain. That statement should scare the heck out of Denver Broncos fans. But fortunately for the team, an 8-1 start allows the Broncos some flexibility with No. 18’s injury, contrary to popular belief.
Everyone talks about the importance of the first-round bye in the playoffs, but is it really essential to a team’s Super Bowl run? Not really, especially when it comes to a guy like Manning. The Broncos’ beloved signal-caller won his only Super Bowl as a member of the Indianapolis Colts in 2006 when he did not have a first-round bye or home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Indy easily won its Wild Card game and then marched on to the Super Bowl. Coincidence? Heck no.
The Broncos’ next three games are tough: two against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs (first in the NFL in sacks this year) and one against the revitalized New England Patriots (eighth in sacks). Put simply, Manning is going to hit in those three games…a lot. If he gets seriously injured in either contest, the Broncos’ Super Bowl hopes instantly vanish. So Denver should do the smart thing and sit Manning in Week 11 and then again in Week 12, if need be.
Yes, I’m aware the Chiefs and Broncos play in the same division and the former currently holds a one-game lead over the latter. But read the above fact about Manning’s lone Super Bowl-winning season. Entering the playoffs as a Wild Card team is not a bad thing.
The Broncos would be way better off entering the playoffs at 13-3 or 12-4 as a No. 5 seed with a healthy Manning than at 15-1 as a No. 1 seed with a banged-up 37-year-old signal-caller. The thing that is more important to Manning’s team than rest is repetition; a week off in the playoffs makes them rusty. The evidence is in the enchiladas: Manning has only reached the Super Bowl once when his team had a first-round bye in the playoffs out of five tries and his Colts lost in that Big Game appearance.
In addition, missing a game against the league’s best defense will force other Denver players to step up and realize they can’t just fall back on Manning each and every week. Sitting Manning a week (or two) would also allow Denver to get a legitimate look at Brock Osweiler in a meaning regular season game because this kid is being hyped as the next big thing in the Mile High City once Manning finally retires.
But besides all that, sitting Manning for at least one week while he’s hobbled is definitely in the Broncos’ best interest if they want to win the Super Bowl this year. The numbers and history don’t lie when it comes to Manning’s postseason success, even if the talking heads on your TV do.