The Denver Broncos completed their regular season yesterday with a 34-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders. And what a regular season it was.
The Broncos secured the top seed in the AFC playoffs thanks to their 13-3 record which tied Seattle for the best in the league. In the process they scored 606 points, an NFL record and the first time a team has ever eclipsed the 600-point threshold. They also set a slew of other offensive marks along the way.
Peyton Manning wrapped up the regular season schedule the way he started it, by throwing touchdowns. He torched Oakland for 266 yards and 4 touchdowns in only two quarters of action. He pushed his touchdown record to 55 for the season, an unfathomable number when you really think about it.
By the time Manning sat down for the day the Broncos were heading to the halftime locker room with a 31-0 lead. A dream regular season had been completed and the starters spent the rest of the afternoon getting some rest.
All that’s left for this Broncos team is to turn that dream regular season into a dream season. 3 more victories and Denver will accomplish all the goals they set at the start of the year.
The biggest beneficiary of Manning’s good day was Demaryius Thomas who racked up 6 catches, 113 yards and two scores. He finished his regular season with 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns on 92 receptions. He was rewarded for those numbers last week by making the Pro Bowl, something he will hopefully be forced to miss due to an obligation for a different football game.
Knowshon Moreno continued his breakout season with 64 total yards, 5 catches and a touchdown reception. The stability he’s brought to the backfield was sorely missed in last season’s playoffs and his play will go a long way in determining Denver’s playoff fortunes this season.
The much-maligned Broncos defense had one of their best performances of the year. Even though it came against an Oakland team in full-implosion mode it was important for the defense to go into the playoffs with a little momentum. They held Oakland to a paltry 5 for 13 on third down conversions and 255 total yards, almost all of which came on their final two garbage time drives against backups.
How the Broncos perform in the playoffs obviously relies on Manning quite a bit, but the defense’s ability to get off the field on third downs and make impact plays in key situations (turnovers and sacks) will ultimately determine how far Denver goes over the next five weeks. No matter how explosive the offense they’re going to need some help at times. A little luck with penalties and some good bounces of the ball certainly wouldn’t hurt either.
Denver will be playing their first playoff game on Sunday, January 12th at 2:40 pm MST against the Colts, Chiefs or Chargers. It will be the last game of divisional weekend so the Broncos have a long wait to get redemption for last season’s playoff loss.
My opinion is it doesn’t matter one bit who they play, and they have no control over it anyways so there’s no use in fretting over it. Whoever makes the trip to Mile High will be a tough opponent. The Broncos are playing well right now and have one of the most talented team in the league. If they execute well and play their football game they’re going to have a great chance to beat anyone they line up against.
I can’t wait to kick it off. Go Broncos!