So a dozen local and national sports “analysts” tossed their panties onto the field yesterday when Peyton Manning ran out onto the practice field at the Broncos training center. All day long whenever I turned on the radio (which became more and more infrequent as the day went on) I was regaled with breathless man-crush exhortations of Manning’s deliverance of the Denver Broncos into the Super Bowl. It’s more or less already been assured that the 2012 season will be a Manning MVP ending with Manning winning the Super Bowl MVP. Anything less would be a severe disappointment to most of these guys.
And the vast majority of stories or comments made about Manning are loaded with insulting digs at the short tenure of Tim Tebow in that role. The most common comment is “now that the Broncos have a QB that can throw” blah blah blah…
The main sports show in the city, now called the “Dave Logan” show (even though Dave himself was off yesterday) focused their entire show on the question of “Just how well will the Broncos do with Peyton Manning at QB?” The adulation was infectious apparently with the vast majority of callers also boldly and breathlessly predicting guaranteed Super Bowl glory.
Towards the end of the program, after grousing about “a few instant messages and facebook comments” which doubted that the Broncos had become the favorites to win it all, the substitute hosts (a local sportswriter and a local radio sportscaster) sneered at the idea that Manning had not transformed the Broncos into favorites “at the very least” to win the AFC West.
So someone finally directed them to a couple of national NFL power rankings, including the NFL.com rankings, which list the Broncos somewhere around #20 or so out of 32 teams (incidentally that is quite a ways below where they actually ended up at the end of the year last year, having made it to the divisional round of the AFC playoffs), they quite literally howled in protest, laughing at the complete insanity of the “clueless” analysts who managed to keep their panties on when the name Peyton Manning is mentioned.
I wanted to call in, but I’ve got other things going on and don’t really care that much about what those morons say. My main point was going to be that everyone listening knows that a huge chunk of this Manning-worship is truly the Denver sports media elites’ monumental relief and satisfaction that they don’t have to deal with Tim Tebow or Tim Tebow’s “clueless” fans anymore.
I like Peyton Manning. But I don’t like how he came to the Denver Broncos. I especially don’t like how Tim Tebow was kicked to the curb after rescuing the 2011 season, re-igniting the fan base and generating quite literally tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for the Denver Broncos.
My own take on the Broncos is that they have a time proven quarterback in Peyton Manning who has to be seen as physically questionable after sitting out an entire season and going through difficult neck surgery. Besides that he’s getting older, he’s never been the most maneuverable QB and he has been his best when he had a strong supporting cast. What I politely tell people when the subject comes up is that the Indianapolis Colts for the past decade and a half have generally had much better players at the skill positions than the Broncos do today, and with Peyton Manning in his prime they still, barely, won a single Super Bowl.
My own personal prediction is that the Broncos will be lucky to have a winning season in 2012. If pushed I would predict 9-7 and missing the playoffs, or if scraping into the playoffs due to a weak AFC West, losing in the first round to a better team (like, say, the NY Jets).
That’s because I see a team that has upgraded only a single position (other than QB) since last season, and that position is cornerback. The Broncos have a lackluster set of running backs, a set of tight ends and wide receivers that likely would not even start on half the teams in the NFL, the worst defensive line in the game, highly questionable linebackers, rookie or second year safeties and an offensive line that could barely give Tim Tebow time to do anything with the football. And whatever else you might think about Tim Tebow, there may not be a more difficult QB in the game to corral and tackle. Peyton Manning is likely to be a sitting duck back there.
I would not be surprised at all for the Broncos to end up 6-10.