Peyton Manning is a great quarterback. He is head and shoulders above the talent level that Tim Tebow would have brought to the 2012 Denver Broncos. However, adding Manning will not take the Broncos to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.
Aside from Manning not being able to lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl, there’s a good chance that he may not even lead Denver to the AFC West division championship.
Last year, the Broncos had to rely on a three-way tiebreaker to win the division with an abysmal 8-8 record. Denver struggled down the stretch of their season, only winning one of their final four games while getting outscored 53-98.
At the height of “TebowMania” the Broncos were defeating teams that missed the playoffs. Plus, the defense that will surround Manning at the start of 2012 was shutting down awful offenses that enabled a bad quarterback to lead them to comeback victories.
This year, the Broncos do not have the benefit from playing weaker opponents to help them bolster their record.
Coming into the 2012 season, Denver has the second toughest schedule in the league. They have to play the other AFC division winners from last year—Baltimore, New England and Houston—the AFC North and the NFC South, which features the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.
Their opponents combined record for 2012 is an outstanding 116-92. The schedule has the Broncos playing five teams who finished 2011 with double-digit wins totals, and seven teams who finished with a record above .500.
The shaky defense and the tough schedule are two things that Manning cannot control. However, what he can control, the offense, will not be that much better with Manning at the helm.
Manning is an upgrade at quarterback, but his receivers are nowhere near as talented as the weapons that he had in Indianapolis.
When Manning had his best season in 2004, he had two amazing receivers plus a great tight end to throw to, which resulted in 49 touchdowns, 4,557 passing yards and an average yards per completion of 9.1.
Coming into 2012, Manning will be throwing to Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, who combined for 76 receptions, 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Manning will have a tough time finding a rhythm with these two subpar receivers, who will not provide the same talent level as Manning had with Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison.
The Manning era in Denver will be exciting. However, it will not be as successful as Broncos fans will be making it out to be.
They will be a good team, but they will more than likely be a Wild Card playoff team, not a division champion or Super Bowl champion.