The Denver Broncos may not be thinking beyond Sunday, but the fans are. The Broncos hold their own destiny and the No. 2 seed after defeating the Baltimore Ravens and the 49ers win on Sunday. With only two weeks remaining in the regular schedule, Denver has an 11-3 record and only the Cleveland Browns and another meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs before the playoffs.
For the first time in years, the Broncos have an arsenal of weapons at their disposal, leaving many analysts and fans—myself included—to think they are Super Bowl favorites. Read on to see why.
The Broncos' best weapon is their star quarterback, Peyton Manning. He has taken over the Broncos offense as a leader and coaches the offensive line. His no-huddle offense has proven very successful in Denver, with Eric Decker and Brandon Stokley as his favorite receivers.
Manning has a 67.9 completion percentage, over 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns so far this season. The win over Baltimore extended the Broncos' win streak to nine and also gave Denver its first win in Baltimore in franchise history.
What makes Manning great is that, even when he has off days, he still works with the offense and finds a way to win.
The dynamic duo of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, or, as they call themselves, "Salt And Pepper," are dangerous weapons on the Denver offense.
When opponents put pressure on Thomas, Decker steps up and takes over, much like he did Sunday against Baltimore. While Decker was only inches short of a touchdown in the second quarter, he did finish with eight catches, 133 yards and a 51-yard touchdown against Baltimore. Going into Week 16, Decker has over 900 yards and has 9 touchdowns. He has definitely been Peyton Manning's go-to receiver for most of the season.
Brandon Stokley is also a big offensive weapon for the Broncos. His chemistry with Manning goes back to their playing days with the Indianapolis Colts. While he doesn't have as flashy stats as Thomas or Decker, Stokley is efficient with his time on the field. So far this season, he has 463 yards and five touchdowns.
The wide receivers are the second-most powerful weapon the Broncos have in their arsenal. As long as they stay healthy, the Broncos can make a Super Bowl run. Opponents can slow down one of them, but another will step up and take control of the offense without missing a beat.
The 2012 Denver defense is reminiscent of the Orange Crush days, and that's a marvelous improvement. The Broncos can now win games with their defense, and the win over Baltimore proved it.
The play of the game came late in the second quarter on Sunday. The Broncos were up 10-0, but Joe Flacco and the Ravens were nearing a touchdown. Chris Harris intercepted Flacco's intended pass to the end zone and returned it 98 yards to the opposite end of the field. From that point on, the Denver defense took over.
Von Miller is the ringleader of this resurrected defense. One year after his Rookie of the Year Award, Miller ranks No. 3 in the NFL in sacks (16) and is on pace to win Defensive Player of the Year. He's also making Denver's first-year defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, look really good!
If Miller and the defense continue to impress and choke opposing offenses, there is nothing that can stop the Denver Broncos in 2012. The combination of a stellar offense and a great defense equals a long, fruitful playoff run. Oh, and a probable Super Bowl performance. This is the Broncos' year!!