There is no doubt that quarterback Peyton Manning is the biggest reason for the Denver Broncos' 5-0 start, and with the Jacksonville Jaguars coming to town on Sunday, the game could essentially be over by halftime. Assuming Denver is able to build a big lead, Week 6 is the perfect opportunity to get Manning some rest.
According to Vegas Insider, the Broncos are currently 27-point favorites. Previously opening at minus-28 this week, it was the largest recorded line in NFL history. The contrast between the best team in the league and the worst team in the league is significant, and it would be shocking to see the Jags even keep it close.
While the Broncos obviously have to be careful not to take the Jaguars lightly, Manning simply won't allow his team to look past them. Manning even went so far as to call the Jaguars a "good NFL football team," according to NFL: Around The League.
The Jaguars clearly aren't a good team to say the least, but everything Manning has done and said to this point has worked perfectly, so there is no use arguing with him. With that said, the Denver offense comprised of Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas and Knowshon Moreno among others figures to open up a huge lead against the Jags.
Manning would probably prefer to play the entire game, especially this early in the year, but if the game is well in hand by the time the third quarter comes to an end, head coach John Fox ought to sit Manning for the remainder of the contest in favor of Brock Osweiler.
Winning Sunday's game is obviously the main goal, but if Fox can preserve Manning and some of his other stars in the process, it would behoove him to do so. Perhaps it would damage Manning's chances of breaking the single-season passing yardage and touchdown records, but it is very clear that this season is Super Bowl or bust for Manning and the rest of the team.
If Manning isn't healthy, then the Broncos stand no chance at winning it all. It's true that Manning has largely been one of the most durable quarterbacks in NFL history, but he did miss the entire 2011 season due to a neck injury, and he is now 37 years of age, so it's possible that one big hit could potentially put him out of commission.
Even though blindside protector Ryan Clady is out for the season, the Broncos have done a great job in terms of keeping Manning upright. Manning has been sacked just five times, which is the least of any quarterback with at least 50 attempts this season. Even so, with Denver out in front by a significant margin, one missed blocking assignment could turn the season upside down.
Of course, all of this is moot if the Jags are able to keep things close. However, Jacksonville is averaging just over 10 points per game, while Denver is averaging 46, so the odds of that happening aren't great. The Broncos have a huge clash against the Indianapolis Colts coming up on Oct. 20, and it's important for everyone to be intact for that encounter.
In addition to keeping Manning healthy, it would be great to get Osweiler some snaps. The 6'8" Arizona State product has completed four of his seven pass attempts for 22 yards in limited action over the past two years. If something were to unfortunately happen to Manning down the line, the Broncos need to make sure that Osweiler is ready to take the reins.
Nobody would be able to adequately replace Manning, but Osweiler has impressive physical tools, and he could potentially thrive with such a great supporting cast around him. At the very least, it can't hurt to get Osweiler some game action as he is the heir apparent to Manning whenever he decides to hang up the cleats.
Calling this a glorified bye week for the Broncos would be a bit presumptuous, but it should be a much easier week than most. Manning is going to put up his stats when he is out there. However, if there is a logical time to take him out, Fox shouldn't hesitate to do so.
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