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.
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.
Sun, Nov 18
vs. San Diego
Sun, Nov 25
Sun, Dec 2
vs. Tampa Bay
Thu, Dec 6
Sun, Dec 16
Sun, Dec 23
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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