It’s the 13-3 Denver Broncos that rule the AFC throne.
The team wrapped up one incredible regular season with a 38-3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. With the win and a Houston Texans’ loss (Thanks again, Colts!), the Broncos secured their first place standing in the AFC, and home field advantage until the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
With 11 straight wins, the Broncos enter the playoffs with the second-longest winning streak in team history.
Many say that during the playoffs, home field advantage doesn’t necessarily mean much. Historically, that hasn’t held true for the Broncos who have won 81% of their home playoff games and lost 75% of their away playoff games.
Before we dive into the post season though, let’s talk about Sunday’s win. The win marks the second time in franchise history that the Broncos have made it a clean sweep in the division.
With 304 yards on 23-for-29 passing, 3 touchdowns, and a 144.8 passer rating, Peyton Manning piled up more single season team records for the most completions, passing yards, and touchdowns as well as the best passer rating (105.8) in Broncos’ history.
“We faced a surgeon today,” Chiefs’ head coach Romeo Crennel said of Manning. “He operated very well.”
One of Manning’s favortie targets on the day was Eric Decker who ended the day with 7 receptions for 76 yards and 2 touchdowns. Decker also passed the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career, and he set the record for most receiving touchdowns in a two-year span in team history.
Demaryius Thomas was the other favorite target with 7 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown to round out the production of one of the most productive receiving duos in the league.
All was not easy as pie right from the start, however. After the first Broncos’ touchdown, a 3-yard run by Knowshon Moreno, the defense held their ground and forced the Chiefs to punt. On the ensuing offensive possession, Manning had the Broncos on the move with two big back-to-back completions for 20 and 24 yards to Thomas. Then rookie Ronnie Hillman fumbled, and Brandon Flowers recovered. That was the only sore spot in the game as the Chiefs’ proved why they’re the worst red zone offense in the league. By halftime it was the Broncos’ 277 yards of total offense to the Chiefs’ 89 yards (53 coming off the rush).
To open the second half, Manning found Thomas in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. The drive took nearly six minutes off the clock which was good enough for the fat lady to warm her voice. After that Lance Ball punched in a 1-yard touchdown on third down to put the game entirely out of reach.
That was the end to Manning’s day. The Broncos elected to let rookie Brock Osweiler run out the game clock. On his way to seeing the clock to 0:00, Osweiler went 2 -for-4 for 12 yards.
By the fourth quarter, the Broncos were up 35-3, and had Brady Quinn wishing he was still on Denver’s sideline. That way he wouldn’t be bulldozed into the ground for 4 sacks or forced into passing for just 49 yards.
After rushing for 107 yards in the last meeting against the Broncos, Jamaal Charles was held to 53 on 14 carries.
With one regular season of Manning football under our orange belts, we’ve been witness to the Manning way of football. He is one of the NFL’s greatest influencers of tempo and will. He creates the pace and directs the team’s winning intangibles. He does the right things, the right way, at the right time.
That’s why the Broncos are not only division champs, but regular season conference champs as well. It’s also why we have been led to believe that the playoffs are the Broncos real time to shine. This is Manning’s world. Everyone else is living in it, and living by it.