3. What if the Broncos beat the Ravens in the 2012 playoffs?
The Denver Broncos were the hottest team in the NFL for most of the 2012 season. I have never seen a more dominant Broncos team than this one.
Actually, as a matter of fact, I saw the last loss this team had before the Ravens game in the playoffs in person. I was there when Joe Mays hit Matt Schaub so hard it took a piece of his ear off. I was there when the Houston Texans and Gary Kubiak somehow beat the Peyton Manning-led Broncos at home. The Broncos lost just one game at home that entire regular season and it just so happened to be the one I decided to go to. I haven't been to a game since that one.
After that loss to the Texans, the Broncos would crush the Raiders and then lose to the Patriots, falling to 2-3 on the season. A 24-0 deficit at halftime against the Chargers on Monday Night Football seemingly had the Broncos easily falling to a 2-4 record, but the Broncos mounted one of the best comebacks you will ever see to win rather handily against the Chargers in that game.
That game against the Patriots they lost on October 7, 2012, was their last loss of the regular season. They ripped off 11 straight wins and earned the top seed in the AFC. They hosted a playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens and, frankly, if the Broncos had found a way to win, it would have gone down as one of the greatest games in franchise history.
Instead, Rahim Moore's misplay of a deep ball from Joe Flacco at the end of regulation sent the game unnecessarily into overtime, where the Broncos lost just their second home game of the entire season.
When I asked fans on Twitter their biggest "what-if" in Broncos history, this one beat out Terrell Davis (more on that soon) and every other. Everyone wonders what would have happened if the Broncos had been able to finish the job against the Ravens. This Denver Broncos team is considered by many to be the best Broncos team to not win a Super Bowl.
The Broncos would have hosted the Patriots in the AFC Championship game that year had they won. No one knows what would have happened there. Anything can happen in Tom Brady playoff games. But history would tell us that the Broncos kind of have Tom's number in the playoffs.
One thing I know for sure -- the 2012 Broncos would have absolutely dusted that 49ers team in the Super Bowl. If the Broncos win the Super Bowl in Peyton Manning's first year with the team, what does that do to the rest of the Peyton Manning era? How different would things have been that following offseason when Elvis Dumervil left for the Ravens in free agency after the fax machine snafu?
Would Manning and the Broncos have been better in Super Bowl 48 after winning Super Bowl 47? Funny story that is actually true: I was so bitter about the Broncos not making Super Bowl 47 that I had a cookie cake made at The Great American Cookie Company that said, "Denver Broncos, Super Bowl 47" on it.
This is the one that got away. Regardless of what would have happened in the aftermath, there's no denying that the 2012 Denver Broncos were the best team in the league that year. Sorry, Ravens.