In a factoid that is no mystery to Denver Broncos’ record-setting signal-caller Peyton Manning, the NFL playoffs are a consistent crap shoot, rife with more twists and turns than any daytime soap opera.
How else could one explain who CBS Sports’ NFL analyst Solomon Wilcots called the “greatest quarterback to play the game,” lose in his first playoff game 8 times, including last season against Baltimore?
Nevertheless, if there’s one thing the legendary Manning can do arguably better than anyone in NFL history, it is cast out the demons of the past and continually strive to be better, while assisting those around him both on and off of the gridiron, which includes revitalizing downtown Indianapolis while a Colt, paving the way for the Circle City to host Super Bowl XLVI.
With all of this said, Manning knows what’s at stake, having told Broncos’ flagship radio station, News Radio AM-850 KOA that he hopes everyone has learned lessons from the past and will not be doomed to repeat them.
Manning’s numbers speak for themselves, all of his numbers in Denver exceed his career averages, with the exception of net yards per attempt, which was higher in 2004 and 2005 then his Denver marks.
Nevertheless, he has still been excellent at 5,280 feet, as he has passed for 10,136 yards, 92 touchdowns and 21 interceptions while a Bronco, averaging 5,068 yards, 46 touchdowns and 10.5 interceptions per season in orange and blue.
Many pundits have cited the Broncos’ Week 15 27-20 loss to San Diego, which also occurred at Denver, as reason that the team could have an early exit for the second consecutive season but there are several factors that may change this.
For instance, key defenders such as defensive end Derek Wolfe and cornerback Champ Bailey were out as was wideout Wes Welker, Manning’s security blanket this season who had 73 receptions for 778 yards and 10 scores on the season.
During this game, on Twitter, Denver CBS-4 sports anchor Vic Lombardi noted that Welker was missed in situations where the 2-minute offense was needed, which may explain why San Diego defensive coordinator John Pagano was able to have such success against Manning December 12.
Personally, I am looking for the Broncos’ defense to be more aggressive and successful, as for whatever reason, against the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders (incidentally both teams San Diego lost to during the regular season), in Weeks 16 and 17, they only surrendered an average of 247.5 yards per game and 13.5 points.
Defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, the team’s first overall selection in last April’s annual collegiate draft out of North Carolina, has 2 sacks and 12 tackles, but as is the case for most defensive tackles, stats don’t tell the whole story.
As famed Broncos’ SB Nation blog Mile High Report poster McGeorge has noted, Williams’ girth has reduced from training camp until the postseason, making him more spry and effective in his role.
The Broncos are finally ready to shake off the dust and help Manning write a new chapter in his illustrious narrative, we shall see what happens.