Should the Denver Broncos Rest Peyton Manning Down the Stretch?

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Should the Denver Broncos Rest Peyton Manning Down the Stretch?
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The Denver Broncos are coming off their bye week and head into the second half of the season having lost just one of their first eight games.

If they continue that pace, they should put themselves in position to have home-field advantage throughout the NFL playoffs.

With that comes the inevitable question: Should Peyton Manning play all 16 regular-season games?

This wouldn't be new territory for Manning, as his successful run in Indianapolis brought about the situation more than once.

 

Indianapolis Colts 

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The Colts often toyed with the idea of resting Manning for parts of games after they had everything wrapped up, hoping to preserve him for a postseason run.

Now that he is in Denver, will the team employ a similar strategy?

The Colts found mixed success when they rested their star quarterback.

In 2006, Manning played the entire season and threw for 1,034 yards in the playoffs, leading the team to a Super Bowl victory over Chicago.

In the years that followed, the team chose to rest him towards the end of the year. In 2007 and 2008, Manning was rested in the season finale and backup quarterback Jim Sorgi took the reins on offense.

Indianapolis was bounced out of the playoffs in its first playoff game in both years—both times by San Diego.

2009 brought about the most memorable situation of Manning being rested.

The Colts had gotten out to a 14-0 start under first-year coach Jim Caldwell. Against the New York Jets, Caldwell elected to yank Manning after the first series in the third quarter, installing Curtis Painter at quarterback for the rest of the game.

He produced some of the worst quarterback play Colts fans had ever seen and the team's first loss of the season. The following week against Buffalo, Manning played just the first quarter in a 30-7 loss.

Heading into the playoffs losing back-to-back games, the team still managed to reach the Super Bowl.

The next year, Caldwell seemed to second-guess his decision from the previous year, allowing Manning to play the full season.

The team would respond with a 17-16 loss to the Jets in the Wild Card Round. That would be Manning's final game in a Colts uniform, as he would miss the entire 2011 season.

 

Denver Broncos

Manning had a wildly successful first year in Denver, leading the team to a 13-3 record. The Broncos' 11 straight victories brought home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Resting Manning never seemed to be much of a choice, as he played just about every snap in the 2012 season.

In the divisional round of the playoffs, the Broncos drew the Baltimore Ravens, a team they had already beaten 34-17 just about one month earlier.

Denver was expected to roll into the AFC Championship Game, but that never happened. It was cold and Manning looked like a different player than he had throughout all of the regular season. Were all the pundits right about the wintry weather affecting Manning in Denver?

After that game, it was hard to argue against the notion.

The next four games of the 2013 season should help decide if sitting Manning is even an option this year. Denver will play Kansas City twice and New England over the course of the next four weeks. The Broncos finish with a much lighter schedule that includes games against Tennessee, San Diego, Houston and Oakland.

What should Denver do with Peyton Manning down the stretch this season?

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If Denver is able to beat the Chiefs twice and knock off the Patriots, then maybe resting Manning could be considered. However, that is a big maybe.

Kansas City is 9-0 and would have home-field advantage in the playoffs if the season ended today. The Chiefs don't figure to lose too many games this season. New England is getting healthy at the right time and coming off a 55-point outburst against Pittsburgh

Then there is Manning's former team. The Colts are the only team to beat Denver this season.

The Broncos don't want to lose any ground to these teams.

If the Broncos are going to make a strong playoff run, Manning will have to win in the cold weather. It's highly debatable whether resting his arm or having as many repetitions as possible will be best for him.

The Super Bowl is in New York this year. There's a good chance it will be cold.

For Manning to be rested this season, the Broncos would need to have home-field advantage wrapped up. For that to happen, they may have to win the rest of their games.

Rest has never proven to benefit Manning. The mixed results in Indianapolis show that. Still, if the Broncos had to turn to Brock Osweiler, it could prove disastrous.

One thing is for sure: Manning will play the entire season as long as there is something to play for. With teams like Kansas City, Indianapolis and New England pushing for a Super Bowl run as well, there will be.

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