By Rich Kurtzman
Are the Broncos the best?
An 11-game winning streak, an elite quarterback and what experts are calling the most complete team in football have many believing Denver is the top dog.
With Peyton Manning back and basically better than ever, the Broncos are never out of a game. Evidence is their three comeback victories, including coming from 24 points down to beat the Chargers 35-24. Of course, their defense has allowed a fourth-least 18 points per game, boasting the best pass-rushing front and allowing only 91 yards per game on the ground. Special teams has been special at times when Trindon Holliday is on top of his game, while even Denver’s coaching has been key to their success.
Still, the reality is that the Broncos have come together over the course of this season – there are more experienced teams and others that are nearly as hot as Denver.
Let’s take a look at which teams could possibly knock the Broncos out of the postseason.
Baltimore Ravens: This may seem contrarian considering the 34-17 beatdown the Broncos put on the Ravens in Baltimore, but they’re still a very good team. Ray Rice only rushed for 38 yards in Week 15, but he’s an 1,100 yard back with nine touchdowns, and if Joe Flacco is on his game, he’s dangerous. Plus, Ray Lewis announced he’ll be retiring following the team’s playoff run, making them even more dangerous for any opponent.
New England Patriots: The Broncos can’t play the Patriots until the AFC Championship game – if the two teams make it that far – and New England presents the most difficult matchup. Tom Brady, like Manning, is one of a handful of elite QBs that can control the pace of the game and put up extraordinary scoring numbers. The Patriots not only put up a season-high 251 yards rushing against Denver in Week Five, but their 34.8 makes them the only team to put up more points than the Broncos 30.1 per game. Plus, they get earned a bye week just like Denver, meaning they’ll be rested before having to play next Sunday.
If Denver can somehow find a way to make their seventh Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, these are two teams that would definitely be difficult.
Seattle Seahawks: Seattle has won five straight games, thanks to both awesome offense and dominant defense. The Seahawks scored 50 against the Bills and put up a 58-0 shutout of the Cardinals in Week 14, and Russell Wilson is leading the attack with efficient passing and speedy running. Seattle is also similar to the Broncos in that they have physical cornerbacks that try to shut down opposing receivers.
Green Bay Packers: Green Bay is the most recent team in the playoffs to win a Super Bowl, giving them an experience edge. Rodgers is another of the few superb quarterbacks in the NFL, and with the litany of receiving threats he possesses, could match Manning drive for drive in an offensive shootout. The Packers do have defensive playmakers like Clay Matthews (13 sacks) and Charles Woodson as well, while Randal Cobb is one of the deadliest return men in the league today.
We’ll have to wait until the games this weekend to find out who the orange and blue will face, but in the end, the only team that will beat the Denver Broncos is the Denver Broncos.
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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.