By Lucas McMillan
When the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning in the offseason, they understandably expected to contend for a Super Bowl immediately. When you secure one of the best players to ever play the quarterback position, that’s a reasonable expectation. Doubts and rumors abounded about Manning’s health throughout the offseason.
After undergoing multiple neck surgeries and taking a full year off from football, would he be ready to pick up where he left off? There were whispers that his arm had lost velocity, that he couldn’t zip passes into tight coverage like he used to. Tens of thousands of people turned out to see Manning warm up at the Broncos training camp.
Expectations were sky high for the former Colts Hall of Famer, but they were expectations taken with several large grains of salt. So far, Manning has proved the doubters wrong – and then some.
So far, Manning has completed a sterling 69.7 percent of his passes for 2,705 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also has a 108 quarterback rating, his highest since his otherworldly mark of 121 in 2004.
Outside of a catastrophic game against the Atlanta Falcons in which he threw four interceptions, Manning has been exceptional. He’s virtually guaranteed to win Comeback Player of the Year, and should certainly be considered for league MVP also. Manning has continued to be the same old Manning.
Much like he did in Indianapolis with players like Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez, he’s making wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas look like all-pros and tight end Joel Dreessen look like a future Hall of Famer. But can the success continue, and how far could the Broncos go in the playoffs with essentially the same team that got blown out by the Patriots last year?
The Broncos have lost three games to very good teams (the Falcons, Patriots and Texans) by six, ten and seven points, respectively. Their defense can look suspect at times, but Manning and the offense are beyond question getting the job done.
The Broncos have scored more than 30 points in six out of their nine games this season. They have won all six of those games, and currently sit at 6-3. Also, Denver has one of the softest schedules in the entire league. Here are the rest of their games, in order:
> Vs. San Diego Chargers
> At Kansas City Chiefs
> Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
> At Oakland Raiders
> At Baltimore Ravens
> Vs. Cleveland Browns
> Vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Outside of the Ravens and the Bucs, every one of those games could be slam-dunk victories for the Broncos. Remember, they play in a pretty awful division. They’re 6-3, and already sit two games ahead of the second place San Diego Chargers.
That’s right. The second best team in the AFC West is 4-5. The Broncos have won six games without even facing the dreadful Chiefs yet. All of this sets up for an easy waltz to the playoffs for the Broncos. Whether they can win once they get there remains to be seen, but the fact that they will be there at all seems like a foregone conclusion.
Lucas McMillan is a writer for FootballSchedule.me. To checkout the week-by-week Broncos schedule as well as the latest NFL and college football news, visit Football Schedule. Follow Football Schedule on Facebook and Twitter @FBSchedule.