Peyton Manning: Broncos QB Has What It Takes to Lead His Team to 13-3 Record

Darin Pike@darinpikeContributor INovember 13, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 11:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 11, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Peyton Manning's brief stint in free agency was one of the biggest offseason stories the NFL has ever seen. Every move and pass he made was scrutinized and the source of press fodder.

There were at least six teams that made a push for Manning, but he decided his best opportunity to reach a Super Bowl was in the AFC and playing for the Denver Broncos.

The team got off to a bit of a rocky start. Denver dropped a pair of close games and fell to 2-3 when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots whipped the Broncos 31-21.

Since that game Manning has been unstoppable.

The Broncos have won four straight games, and Manning has thrown 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions. His lowest quarterback rating during the streak was a 103.1 in a 36-14 thrashing of the Carolina Panthers.

Manning had a string of five straight games with three touchdown passes broken in that contest.

Denver won't look beyond any of their opponents, but the team has to be contemplating what it will take to secure a first-round bye. They currently would be the fourth-seed in the AFC.

But the Broncos face just two teams with winning records over the next seven games. The other five teams have a combined 11-33 record.

Week 11

Sun, Nov 18

vs. San Diego

Week 12

Sun, Nov 25

@ Kansas City

Week 13

Sun, Dec 2

vs. Tampa Bay

Week 14

Thu, Dec 6

@ Oakland

Week 15

Sun, Dec 16

@ Baltimore

Week 16

Sun, Dec 23

vs. Cleveland

Week 17

Sun, Dec 30

vs. Kansas City

A 13-3 record is within reach.

One of the teams ahead of Denver in the AFC is the Baltimore Ravens. They also happen to be the Broncos' Week 15 opponent, giving the Broncos an opportunity to take out one of their competitors for the AFC's best record.

Denver has already faced the other two teams they are chasing. Those games comprise two of their three losses. 

Home-field advantage won't be settled until the end of the season, but Manning has his Broncos in a position to strike. Finishing the season on an 11-game winning streak seemed doubtful earlier in the year, but the offense continues to improve.

Manning leads the NFL in passer rating and is only getting more familiar with his receivers. Don't be surprised if the Broncos go the balance of 2012 without losing another game.

The playoffs start in January, but Manning is reaching for one of the AFC's top two seeds.

Many doubted his ability to return to MVP form following his neck injury. It wouldn't be wise to doubt his ability to lead the Broncos to a 13-3 record.

Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.


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