Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos Should be Favored to Reach Super Bowl
Regardless of what happens in Week 17, however, it should be the Broncos who are the most feared team in the AFC when the postseason arrives.
The Ravens, Bengals and Colts would all need miraculous performances in order to achieve a victory in Denver since the Ravens have been inconsistent, especially on the road, and the top playmakers on offense for the Bengals and Colts are inexperienced.
Houston and New England both defeated Denver earlier in the season, so they could certainly beat the Broncos again if they were to face them in the playoffs, but it’s more likely that they would be ousted in a rematch.
Through Week 10 of this season, the Texans were dominant on both sides of the ball in nearly all of their games and seemed to be the clear favorites to make it to the Super Bowl in the AFC. However, since their victory over the Chicago Bears in mid-November, the Texans have not looked like a championship-caliber team.
The Packers blew the Texans out in Week 6, but they started to appear vulnerable again when they narrowly defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions in overtime in consecutive weeks.
Since those overtime victories, the Texans have gone 2-2 and Arian Foster has struggled. He put up 165 rushing yards against the Colts last week but recorded a combined 99 yards in the other three games during that four-game stretch.
Foster is Houston’s best offensive weapon and when the Texans haven’t been able to run the ball effectively, they have been forced to rely on Matt Schaub, which has proven to be a losing formula. In the three games the Texans have dropped this season, Foster has failed to be productive, but Schaub has been far worse, recording three interceptions and no touchdowns.
As for the AFC defending champion New England Patriots, they would have to go to Mile High Stadium to beat the Broncos with the way the seeding is set right now. The altitude and 12th man would help Denver, but the fact that their defense is far superior to New England’s is the most determining reason why they would be favored to win that matchup.
Of course, Tom Brady has shown on numerous occasions that he can lead the Patriots to a win regardless of which defense he is playing against, but if anyone can compete with him in a shootout, it’s Peyton Manning.
There were a lot of jokes about Manning having a noodle arm before this season started and through the first few weeks, but Denver’s quarterback has made those jokes irrelevant, proving that he has more than just his accuracy back.