The Denver Broncos have won an entire regular season in a row. Their streak of 16 regular season wins is remarkable. Going back to last year’s regular season, the Broncos are on a dominant winning streak which won’t probably end until late in this season when there is nothing left to play for.
The team’s extended preseason will probably start at game 13 or 14, unless the Kansas City Chiefs are able to keep up some pressure in the AFC West. Peyton Manning plays for Super Bowl wins and it is unlikely for him to play in games that have no bearing on home field advantage or the standings. So he could sit out games late in the season.
The Broncos are the big favorite to win this season’s Super Bowl and they should be. Their win against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday showed how hard it is to beat them and how close to perfect a game teams have to play in order to make it close at the end.
So is there any way the Broncos won’t win the Super Bowl this season? Here are a few ways it could happen.
1. Peyton Manning gets hurt
“Duh!,” said Homer Simpson. Manning is the motor that makes Denver’s engine run. His audibles, his brain, his decision-making, his pinpoint passing, his reads and his athleticism (yes, I said it) make it difficult to replace him.
2. The Broncos blow a defensive assignment in a close game
Since the winning streak started last season, Denver’s offense has proven it can lead and not be caught from behind. But it was a defensive lapse in last season’s playoff game against Baltimore that put the Broncos in a bind and cost them a chance at a Super Bowl. Baltimore had played a fine game to that point, but didn’t deserve to win until Rahim Moore misjudged a ball and let Jacoby Jones snag a 70-yard touchdown pass.
3. A team goes for it often on fourth down situations
In order to beat Denver, a team can’t beat itself and teams must be able to convert in unconventional ways, like going for it on fourth down in unconventional situations. For example, in the first quarter and fourth and four from the Denver 45, or early in the third quarter and fourth and nine from Denver’s 38. The point is to keep the ball out of Manning’s hands as much as possible. That leads to the next possible way the Broncos don’t win the Super Bowl.
4. A team tries onside kicks
Hey, it worked for the New Orleans Saints coming out of halftime against Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. Any team playing the Broncos should be practicing onside kicks all week long as part of their strategy to win. Special teams must play a big role against Denver, who has one of, if not the best kick returner in the NFL in Trindon Holliday. Why kickoff deep at all? Just try an onside kick every time. This should be Jacksonville’s strategy this week, if they score.
5. A team goes for two-point conversions after every touchdown
Again, the strategy should be to practice them all week long in preparation for the game. A team will need all the points it can get against the Broncos, so going for two could wind up being the difference between winning and losing thanks to earning some extra points along the way.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com