Denver Bronco: Why Peyton Manning Is Not Enough to Win AFC West

Kevin SchlittenhardtCorrespondent IISeptember 19, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons hugs Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos after their 27-21 win at Georgia Dome on September 17, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

36-year-old Peyton Manning, who looked ageless in his Week-1 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, throwing for 253 yards in a 31-19 Denver Broncos' victory, looked horrendous in game two against the Atlanta Falcons.

Manning threw three first-quarter interceptions, costing the Broncos the game and leaving everyone wondering if he still has what it takes to take the Broncos to the top of the AFC West.

After neck surgeries kept Manning sidelined for the entire 2011 season, many expected a rusty return for the former elite quarterback. While Manning managed to topple the Steelers with an impressive first game back, the rust that many expected to see was evident in game two.

Manning’s reads seemed off and many of his passes, including his completions, wobbled. Throwing three interceptions in his first three drives dug Manning and the Broncos a hole that they could not climb out of.

However, Manning threw for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and put the Broncos within six points of what was almost a Michael Vick-like comeback. Unfortunately for Denver, the Falcons made sure to maintain their early lead.

Currently, the Broncos are one win behind the San Diego Chargers, a team that has had a relatively easy first two weeks in facing the Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Titans. Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown 515 yards for four touchdowns in the two games, completing 48 of 65 passes.

Although his team has gotten off to a poor start, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel has thrown for an impressive 559 yards and three touchdowns, completing 44 out of 75 passes over the first two games. It is still early enough for the Chiefs to get it together, but clearly their quarterback is not the reason they are 0-2.

Manning’s numbers compare with those of Rivers, as the two battle it out for the division's top quarterback. Through two weeks, Manning is 43 of 63 for 494 yard and three touchdowns. Despite a horrible second game, Manning still has be considered an elite QB in the AFC West.

Manning showed his first sign of weakness in Week 2; there could be more of where that came from. Although Manning’s problems did not seem to be physical, his confidence seemed to be shaken.

Manning needs to come back swinging if he wants to have the Broncos in contention for a division title.

The Broncos passed Tim Tebow for Peyton Manning, an investment that will not pay dividends for Denver.