By Sante Guajardo
With the Super Bowl on the horizon and the regular season far behind us, it’s the time of the year that football fans have been waiting for. Whether your team is in the big game or not, mostly everyone has to be rooting for someone to win. Here’s why it’s going to be the Broncos.
- Dominant Defense
Not only have the Broncos’ defense saved them in games that came down to the wire, but they’re also looking at a chance to be among the elite defenses in NFL history. For the first time in franchise history, the Broncos finished number one in total defense at the end of the regular season. They were able to do this with the dynamic pass rush of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, as well as some push from rookie Shane Ray. Along with this comes a secondary that is full of elite players in Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Darian Stewart, and so on. That’s just to name a few components of a defense that has gotten to Tom Brady 20 times in a game and held nearly every quarterback they faced under 300 yards per game. If this isn’t what a Super Bowl caliber defense looks like, I don’t know what is.
Along with a team full of elite veteran players comes talent from young players. Shane Ray can step in for an injured DeMarcus Ware and make an impact. Max Garcia can be thrown into a game able to protect his quarterback at a moment’s notice. If it wasn’t for these players who work hard day in and out, it’s unlikely the Broncos would be where they are now.
Without depth in this team, they wouldn’t have snagged the number one seed in the AFC at the end of the season. The main example of depth was in their second-string quarterback, Brock Osweiler. Osweiler not only led the Broncos to five wins in the absence of Peyton Manning, but two of them were against elite teams who appeared in the playoffs. Along with Osweiler came the addition of Shiloh Keo, who not only gave the safety position reassurance after injury, but sealed the deal with a catch of the Patriots’ onside kick in the AFC Championship game.
- Newly Balanced Offense
Along with a thriving number one defense, the offense finally found their feet throughout the playoffs. From a balanced running and passing game to protecting their quarterback, this team has shown they can do just enough on offense to support what their defense does. Since Manning was declared the starter, he has had plenty of time to throw and has not thrown an interception. The offense has also found their way to big running plays when needed most.
- Ability To Fight To The Finish
If any team has fought for every game this season, it is the Denver Broncos. When faced with injury to their elite quarterback at a point in time when half of the active roster was injured, the Broncos didn’t shy away–they fought for wins. They exhausted every resource they had and even picked up a player from a Tweet shout out to sustain themselves. Every win was earned.
- Top-Notch Receivers
If it weren’t for the Broncos’ elite receivers and tight ends, Manning wouldn’t have the options he does and the young Osweiler wouldn’t have had a crutch to lean on. Receivers Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas, and Jordan Norwood are able to haul in the impossible. They draw more coverage than is possible because they’re all threats. The same goes for tight ends Owen Daniels, Vernon Davis, and Virgil Green. With so many options available, Denver has a dream quarterback’s dream receivers.
- An Elusive Special Teams
Though kick returns and punt returns for touchdowns weren’t a common threat with Denver’s special teams unit, they still made the big plays, starting with kicker Brandon McManus. McManus was among the league leaders in field goal attempts, as well as touchbacks. He was reliable when needed and provided the Broncos with extra points. The special teams also provided their team with fast-acting plays during kicks and didn’t allow teams to score on kicks or punts on a consistent basis.
- Die-Hard Fans
Recently being placed in the position of America’s team, the Broncos have a fan base that will fill up any stadium. Denver fans shut out opposing teams’ fans in vocal support. Not only are their fans throughout the nation amazing, but locally Denver has some of the biggest celebrations when the team makes it to the big game. If you find yourself in Denver during a Super Bowl they’re playing in, it is an experience to rival any Roman bacchanal.
- Super Bowl Experience
Not only will this be the Broncos’ eighth Super Bowl, but it will be many coaches’ and players’ second or more. From the experience of Elway and Manning to that of Gary Kubiak, the Broncos have something that the Panthers do not. This advantage gives the Broncos a better idea of how practices should go, how to go about a week full of distractions, and how to gauge all the momentum leading up to the big game. I’m a believer that experience is key and the Broncos surely have that.
- The Sheriff (Manning)
Last and certainly not least is the big man himself. If anyone’s the reason as to why the Broncos should win the Super Bowl, it’s Peyton Manning. Manning has not only had a prolific career by claiming record upon record, but has also made history with two wonderful franchises. Manning has led two teams to multiple Super Bowls, which is more than can be said for any other quarterback in league history. Whether this is his last game or not, Manning will make it a good one and will fight for that second Super Bowl ring.