Peyton Manning has been sensational for the Denver Broncos this season and is rightfully being discussed as a possible MVP candidate. While a fifth MVP award would be nice, Manning has the Broncos poised for bigger things, most importantly a Super Bowl run.
Coming off neck surgery, Manning's season has been better than most expected. He's completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 4,016 yards and 31 touchdowns. He's fourth in the league in quarterback rating with a solid mark of 103.5 per game.
Manning isn't only putting up big numbers. The Broncos are winning games and in position to grab the second seed in the AFC playoffs. They've lost three games all year, to the Atlanta Falcons, the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots and they haven't lost since Week 5.
The biggest question mark with this team is that they haven't beaten any top teams, losing to the three best teams on their schedule. They've only won three games against teams that are still alive in the playoff race. While that seems worrisome, it's more an indication of when they played those teams.
Their three losses came during the first few weeks of the season where Manning was trying to learn a new system and the receivers were learning to catch passes thrown by a real quarterback. They have gotten better with each week and will be a tough matchup in the playoffs for anybody.
While Manning is a big reason for the Broncos success, the defense deserves a lot of credit. Von Miller and company have the Broncos second in team sacks with 42 and are giving up only 19.6 points per game.
The argument could be made that the Broncos will go as far in the postseason as their defense takes them. Well that's partly true, they need Manning to play well and carry the offense just as much as they need strong defensive play.
The last few seasons have proven that to win a Super Bowl, teams need a strong defense lead by a good pass rush and top quarterback. The Broncos have both this year with Manning in the mix, looking for his second Super Bowl trophy.
They will have some tough games in the playoffs, likely having to play one of the teams they lost to early in the year in the Patriots or Texans. They have the defense to match up well with the Texans and the offensive firepower to hang with the Patriots.
With Manning leading the charge, the Broncos may be the most balanced team in the AFC. They also have the advantage of having a proven quarterback who has Super Bowl experience. This team is tailor-made to win in the playoffs.