4 Reasons The Broncos Won’t Make The Super Bowl (And 5 Reasons They Will)
With this piece, we seek to provide definitive evidence as to why the Denver Broncos will absolutely, definitely not make the Super Bowl this year. Then we’re going to offer up several other reasons why they definitely will.
It’s a pretty hard-line stance we’re taking, insisting that the Broncos both will and won’t make the Super Bowl, but by playing both sides of the fence, we’re guaranteed to be right. And wrong. It’s kind of weird, but let’s get past that and on to the reasons.
While things couldn't be looking much better on the offensive side of things (which we’ll get to later), things aren’t as rosy for the Broncos’ defense. Without skilled pass rushers on the D-line, the team often resorts to using blitzes of linebackers and the secondary, mortgaging their pass coverage to put pressure on the QB. It’s a strategy that’s paid off so far, but the caliber of teams in the playoffs generally aren’t as forgiving as, say, the Oakland Raiders are when it comes to exploiting weaknesses.
Why They Won’t #4: Their Defense
Every team is prone to injuries, and they’re generally piled up pretty high by the time week 17 rolls around, but with the stiff competition in the AFC, the Broncos will need every player at their disposal, and some of them aren't around. In recent weeks, Denver has done without Von Miller, Ryan Clady, Wes Welker, Rahim Moore, and Kevin Vickerson. It’s not like they've lost Peyton Manning to a neck injury or anything, but it’s definitely going to hurt them, especially on defense, where they don’t exactly have players to spare.
Why They Won’t #3: Injuries
Special teams may not be the most glorious aspect of the game, but it’s important, especially in terms of generating or losing momentum in big games. The three losses the Broncos have endured all suffered from HUGE special teams breakdowns, and whether it’s a late-game onside kick, competent punt coverage, or a last-second field goal attempt, the Broncos are almost certainly going to find themselves in a position where special teams will need to succeed. And it hasn't happened much this season.
Why They Won’t #2: Special Teams
This might seem like a bit of a cop-out, but for all the dominance that Manning and the Broncos demonstrated in the regular season, they were only 3-3 against other AFC playoff teams. They split with the Chargers, swept Kansas City, and dropped one each to the Colts and Pats. Even coming in at #1, they don’t’ have a proven regular season record against the playoff field.
Why They Won’t #1: The Rest of the AFC
But he may not be better than ever. Welker suffered two concussions in four games, which could often signify the end of a career, but Welker’s been cleared to play after sitting out last week as a precaution. Welker’s obviously a huge target for Manning, so the Broncos can count on the offensive boost his presence provides. And since he’s been cleared, we can only assume that his brain isn’t mush and he can still exercise the motor skills to catch the ball, turn his body downfield, and run.
Why They Will #5: Welker’s Back
And their stadium is outdoors. And it’s like, a mile high or something (I read that somewhere). So while Seattle, Indianapolis, and Kansas City are hardly Cancun, the only team that regularly performs in cold outdoor climates in the AFC are the Pats, who will be coming to Denver should they square off. And that thin air might not be as big a deal as people make it out to be, but it’s a factor, and one that certainly goes the Broncos’ way.
Why They Will #4: Denver’s Cold
Again, this is a pretty obvious point, but we’re not going for subtlety here. With Peyton Manning being approximately 62 years old, and Denver having a litany of injuries, the bye week is huge in terms of giving players the opportunity to rest and recover. Further, it provides coaches another chance to put their strategy together for whoever they might be facing in the next round or beyond.
Why They Will #3: Bye Week
While it’s impossible to extricate Peyton Manning from a discussion of the Bronco’s offense (I address him below), there were many other assets that resulted in the Broncos scoring 76 touchdowns this season. The Bengals were second with 54. The Broncos almost scored 50% more touchdowns than the next most prolific team. At the pace they’they've been playing, they’re not just capable of putting points on the board, but also moving up and down the field at such a rapid clip that they can exhaust opposing defenses by the end of the first half. And, of course, most of that is due to……………
Why They Will #2. OFFENSE
No surprise here. Peyton is enjoying arguably the best season a quarterback has ever had (though a new high-water mark seems to be set almost every year by NFL QB’s). He’s healthy, and he can orchestrate an offense, especially in a time crunch, with more ease and grace than any QB in NFL history. That’s not really up for debate. The criticisms against his postseason resume when compared to someone like Brady are valid, but they’re not enough to keep anyone from betting against him after the year he’s had with a (relatively) new team.