After a week of waiting, the Broncos finally know who they'll be facing in the playoffs.
The good news? The Broncos ended up getting the weakest team in the playoffs, the San Diego Chargers. The Pats can have Andrew Luck--naked or otherwise...
The bad? There is no bad news, my friends. The Chargers are gonna get creamed.
Wait, you might say. Shouldn't we be at least a little worried? The Chargers just beat the Bengals, in Cincinnati, after all.
Just remember: no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse.
For example, you could be a Chiefs fan right about now. All year long their team gave them false hope, from their acquisition of Alex Smith, to their weak-ass schedule, to their near win against the Chargers with their reserves in Week 17.
Most points in a season? Check.
Most passing yards in a season? Check.
Best team in football? We'll see.
It's playoff time. Everyone goes bare chested and bare knuckles. And we all know what happened to the Broncos last year in the same set of circumstances.
The good news is that last year means not one damn thing; the Broncos are peaking at the exact right time.
Peyton Manning also isn't completely bare this time around. He's had a whole season to get used to the the glove.
In an era of passing gunslingers and greatness, nothing is supposed to surprise us any longer.
Records are broken to be made to be broken--again and again. But let's consider what Peyton Manning has just done.
51 touchdowns and counting--in a Broncos uniform, no less.
Even if he doesn't throw another touchdown all year (which he will), that's over three touchdowns a game, for sixteen games. It's breakable, but you'd better bring your rabbit's foot, a lunchbox, and an army of Pro Bowl receivers.
What's left unbroken? The Broncos hold on the overall number one seed.
It’s no secret why the Broncos lost tonight.
The Chargers converted half of their third downs.
The Broncos converted only a whisper of two.
It’s really that simple. You can take the time of possession, the big plays, the stupid penalties—all of it pales in comparison to the fundamental fact that you can’t string a drive together without converting on third downs. Of course, the converse is also true. You can’t stop a drive without stopping your opponent on third down.
Peyton Manning can’t throw in cold weather—unless he can.
That’s the narrative now. Although the temperature hovered around a frigid five degrees for most of the game, the Broncos offense—and Manning in particular—created a blaze so hot, the Titans needed treatment for third-degree burns.
Make no mistake: the Broncos had two plans in this game. The first was to win the game, which they did handily, 51-28. The second was to send a message to the rest of the league: Peyton Manning can not only play in cold weather, he can torch you.
If you’re coming into Denver late in the year, you'd better believe in Santa Claus. That’s because Peyton Manning is Jack Frost.
Wait, don’t the Chiefs win games like this at home?
Turning turnovers into touchdowns, taking kickoffs back for touchdowns, breaking off big runs—these are the things that define the Chiefs.
It doesn’t matter, not when Peyton Manning comes to town, even when Manning breaks bad for a quarter. Manning’s mind is just too good. His arm (no matter how wobbly the passes) simply follows.
The Broncos now stand in sole possession of first place in the AFC West; even better, they are in complete control of their own destiny. If they want the first seed, they can do more than wish for it for Christmas.
Welcome to my sixth rewrite in the last twenty minutes.
This was supposed to be a story about Petyon Manning and Tom Brady dueling; it was supposed to be about two teams playing until the bitter end; hell, it was supposed to be about the near perfection of the Broncos running game.
Instead, we’re going to be talking about bouncing balls for a whole damn week.
Actually, I should probably be more specific. Wes Welker didn’t give Tony Carter enough time to clear a bouncing punt, which now makes Tony Carter look really dumb.
What a letdown, and what a silly way to lose a game. There’s just no rewriting that.
It’s simple: keep Peyton Manning clean, the Broncos win.
It’s true when he’s healthy. It’s true when he’s feeling a little average. And it’s true when his ankle is as hurt as an Alex Smith checkdown.
The Broncos just restored order to the NFL with their 27-17 win, which could have been a lot more lopsided. The NFL simply can’t have teams like the Chiefs masquerading around like a legitimate Super Bowl contender.