“Is this just an overreaction to the Denver Broncos‘ loss last night on Thursday Night Football?”
I bet that’s what a lot of people are thinking as they open this article, but my response is … um … no. And I’ll tell you exactly why.
The first one is that their defense just isn’t very good. They rank 22nd in the league giving up just over 370 yards per game, and more importantly, they give up 26.6 points on average, which is the 25th worst in the NFL. Once they’re playing each game against playoff-caliber teams, one of those three potential games, they will slip up somewhere.
Of course, when you’ve got the best offense in the league, you can get by, which is why they’ve been so dominant in the regular season. The problem is that now it’s gotten colder. And I know, Peyton Manning denies that he struggles in the cold, but throughout his career, there’s no question that he plays worse when it’s colder out. In fact, he’s quite pedestrian.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, teams led by Manning have lost, in both the regular season and postseason combined, seven of 10 games where the temperature was 32 degrees or colder — which explains quite a few of his losses to the New England Patriots in Foxborough. His statistical numbers in those games: 11 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 214.5 yards per game and a completion percentage of only 59.4; his career yards per game and completion percentage sit at 269.5 and 65.4, respectively.
Again, Manning — as well as his head coach John Fox — says that he’s not a different player in the cold. Well, Mr. Manning, with all due respect, your numbers say quite the contrary, especially since you have a career TD-to-INT ratio of better than two-to-one.
Unfortunately for Manning and the Broncos, not only will both their Divisional and Championship round games be in Denver, Colo. — where it’s cold — but the Super Bowl is in East Rutherford, N.J. at the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. Both venues for all three potential games will more than likely be sporting below-freezing temperatures in January or February.
This leads me to believe that this offense just will not be nearly as potent as it has been during this regular season. Since they don’t have a running game that can function on its own without the passing game to open up the field, they will eventually face an opponent they won’t be able to outscore, and that’ll be their downfall.
Because of these two major factors, the Broncos will not be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this February.