It's one thing to be optimistic during the offseason. It's a whole other thing to make a playoff declaration before the offseason has even unfolded. None of us knows what the Denver Broncos are going to look like for the 2024 season. We don't know who the quarterback is going to be. We don't know what major moves are going to get made in the offseason.
There's a lot of time between now and September.
That's not preventing Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning from making his declarations about the Denver Broncos' playoff pursuits in 2024.
Manning, hosting his final Monday Night Football game alongside his brother Eli, had this to say about his beloved Broncos this coming season:
Now, I don't think there's anything to read into here as far as Peyton Manning knowing something the rest of us don't (although that is possible, he's extremely connected to the organization). I believe Manning is simply speaking something into existence in this instance.
With that being said, the Broncos are trending toward a playoff appearance. It's just hard to say that definitively when we have no idea who is going to be this team's field general. We don't know what's going to unfold this offseason.
Has Peyton seen the offseason script? It's fun to think about him knowing something the rest of us don't, but I think Peyton's confidence is bred from something completely different from just knowing the script. Manning is -- rightfully, in my opinion -- a big believer in head coach Sean Payton.
Payton took a Denver Broncos team that was embarrassing and broken in 2022 and had them one game out of the AFC West late in the 2023 season. It's easy to forget that based on the way the season finished, but the Broncos were 7-4 over the final 11 games last season. If this team's defense didn't completely bottom out in the first five games of the season, who knows how different things would have been?
The Broncos botched a 21-3 lead at home to the Commanders. They botched a chance at coming back and beating the Jets with the ball in their hands and a chance to win it late. They botched a chance to beat the Houston Texans on the road with a 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line. They botched a home game against the New England Patriots on Christmas Eve.
The opportunities were there, even despite the 1-5 start to the year. Conventional logic would tell you that if the Broncos -- who were not overly dynamic offensively in 2023 -- can improve even slightly on that side of the ball and not have a historically bad defense for any stretch of the season, they can absolutely make the playoffs in 2024.
Manning went on to say he planned on being able to just drive to a playoff game this coming season. The legendary QB has made a long-term home in Denver and obviously loves the city and the team, which embraced him at a critical time in his NFL career.
We're all hoping that Manning's prediction comes true next season, and the Broncos can end the second-longest playoff drought in the league.