The Denver Broncos are currently the dominate force in the AFC (American Football Conference) but their rise as early favourites to grace the MetLife Stadium, New Jersey on February 2nd 2014 hasn’t come without the franchise being in the midst of obscurity only three short years ago.
Since starting out in 1960, in what was then known as the AFL (American Football League) the Broncos have graced the Super Bowl ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ six times, winning twice, first in 1997 against the Green Bay Packers then the following year against the Atlanta Falcons. But since then the Broncos have been out of the Super bowl picture, until now that is. Pundits and observers are ambitiously tipping them to go unbeaten (16-0) until Superbowl XVLIII; they have already beaten the Super Bowl winners from the last two years, the Baltimore Ravens and then the once feared New York Giants.
So far this season Denver and four-time MVP quarterback Peyton ‘Sheriff’ Manning are currently 5-0 tearing up the AFC, but also breaking records for fun, Peyton seems to be enjoying toying with every opposition that has been put in front of him and his offence. Among the records has been Peyton throwing a record breaking seven touchdowns passes in the opening match of the season against the 2013 Super Bowl winners, the Baltimore Ravens, the biggest ever points margin for the Broncos in a game (30 points, 52-20 against the Philadelphia Eagles) and featuring in one of the highest scoring games in NFL history, the 51-48 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
With the likes of ex-New England Patriots wide-receiver Wes Welker (who holds the fourth highest single-season reception totals in Patriots’ history), soon to return from a six game ban outside linebacker Von Miller and one of the widely regarded best pass defenders in the NFL, cornerback Champ Bailey (currently holding the outstanding statistic of eleven Pro Bowls appearance, twelve if you include selections, the most for any cornerback currently in the NFL) within the roster, the Broncos could soon become 2014 Super Bowl Champions.
In 2009, the Broncos hired Josh McDaniels as their coach, acquired from the coaching staff at the New England Patriots. His reign didn’t get off to the best of start though, clashing with then quarterback Jay Cutler who was later traded to the Chicago Bears for quarterback Kyle Orton.
In the 2010 draft the Broncos chose a certain quarterback by the name of Tim Tebow from Florida State University, but the season was still the worst in the Bronco’s history (without Tebow being involved), ending the season an abysmal 4-12. McDaniels was finally sacked after he and the Bronco’s owners clashed, with rumours of taping of the practice sessions of the San Francisco 49ers in London; Denver went on to lose the game in England 24-16 at Wembley Stadium.
The Broncos began the 2011 season with current coach, John Fox, but continued their woeful form from 2010 beginning the season 1-4 from the first five games. Quarterback Kyle Orton subsequently came under increased pressure from Denver’s fans and protests followed to let Florida State intern Tim Tebow into the action; the Broncos originally doubting Tebow because of his height and arm strength.
Tebow’s chance finally came after the Broncos bye week with the Bronco’s record standing at an embarrassing 1-4. Tebow’s first game as starting quarterback changed everything, they travelled to the Miami Dolphins and after going into the 4th quarter 15-0 down they finally got points on the board with 2:44 remaining on the clock, leading to one of the best comebacks in recent NFL memory. The game ended tied at 15-15 with the Broncos going on to win the game 18-15 in over-time, heavily thanks to the influence of Tebow at quarterback; the Broncos went on to finish the season with an 8-8 record, just reaching the play-offs.
Then it happened, the game that made Tebow’s name global. The Broncos faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first play-off game in Denver and the outcome shocked EVERYONE. They beat the Steelers 30-23, thanks to Tebow’s performance at quarterback, earning a game in the last four against the New England Patriots at Denver. But an even bigger shock never materialised and the Bronco’s season came to an end with a 45-10 lose, it also ended Tim Tebow’s career with the Broncos.
The Broncos decided to opt for four time MVP ex-Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning instead of Tebow for the 2012 season, leading to Tebow’s career to go into meltdown via the Patriots on the way. In Manning’s first match, against the Steelers, a repeat of last season’s play-offs occurred, with the Steelers being sweep aside with Denver winning 31-19.
The Broncos finished the 2012 season with a 13-3 record and entered the 2012 play-offs as favourites to reach the Super Bowl, but ended up falling at the first hurdle losing at home 38-35 to the eventual winners the Baltimore Ravens.
So far this season the Broncos have destroyed anything that has come into their path, Peyton being the main individual inflecting damage onto opponents, including taking comprehensive care of the 2012 Super Bowl winners the New York Giants, reigning Superbowl Champion the Baltimore Ravens and most recently the Philadelphia Eagles. So the question is can Denver make the journey to New Jersey on February 2nd to possibly win Superbowl XVLIII.
Next up for the Broncos is the 0-5 Jackonsville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon.
By Chris Heath