It’s taken a lot longer than the Denver Broncos had hoped, but running back Knowshon Moreno is finally playing like a first-round pick in his fifth NFL season. It’s a good thing that Moreno is having such a great season because he may actually be Denver’s most important player in the postseason, and a critical part of a potential Super Bowl run.
It’s well documented that Peyton Manning does not perform to the best of his abilities in cold weather, especially when the wind becomes a factor in games. It’s one of the few downsides of having Manning as the team’s quarterback and is something that the Broncos will have to deal with in the postseason, especially since a majority of the AFC playoffs are likely to be played outside in cold-weather cities regardless of whether or not Denver has home-field advantage.
With Manning being somewhat unreliable when weather becomes a factor, Moreno’s play becomes critical to Denver’s success. If the Broncos can’t count on Manning being able to throw downfield and create big plays the way he was able to early in the season in favorable weather conditions, they will need Moreno to bring balance to their offense, help them control the clock and put Manning in favorable passing situations.
With Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman being inconsistent and at times unreliable with ball security, the Broncos will have to lean on Moreno to be their feature back, and perhaps the only running back they can go to. If that’s the case, the Broncos may need him to play nearly every snap and touch the ball 25-30 times a game, which would make him an invaluable part of their team and their most important player in the postseason.
Without Moreno running the ball effectively, the Broncos will be playing with fire in the postseason. They would be relying too much on Manning, and that can quickly become a problem for them in imperfect weather conditions. It would also put too much pressure on the defense, which is far better when playing with the lead and could be vulnerable in the playoffs due to injuries, especially in the secondary.
Without a healthy and productive Moreno in the postseason, the Broncos risk letting another incredible regular season slip away in the playoffs. With Moreno at the top of his game, Denver will be able to win games in a multitude of ways and not rely solely on Manning, which is why when the playoffs begin, Moreno will be their most important player.