Since joining the Denver Broncos back in 2012, Peyton Manning has come close but has yet to win a Super Bowl with his new team. He’s won one in his career, but in what will likely be one of his final years in the NFL, the future Hall of Famer is hoping to get the Broncos out of the big game on top. While Denver has had a bit of an up-and-down season complete with Manning dealing with injuries throughout, he’s their man moving into the Super Bowl.
Making the plot even better? Manning overcame one of his biggest rivals in Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Broncos finished the year with an impressive 12-4 record, but their offense wasn’t nearly as explosive as we’ve seen in the past. Manning played in just 10 games, but as a team, the Broncos saw their offense sputter at times.
With that said, the Broncos have proven to have one of the most talented defenses in the NFL this year, and that defense is going to play a large role in helping them win the 2016 Super Bowl. Let’s check out the four reasons why they can take home the trophy.
Peyton Manning and DeMarcus Ware are two players who immediately come to mind. The two veterans are the leaders of their respective units, and figure to play a big role in Denver’s success whether it be on the field with big plays or simply helping to keep teammates focused in the games ahead.
There is possibly no better leader in the NFL than Manning, and simply having him out there seems to have electrified the Broncos on both sides of the ball. Manning may not be throwing for 500 yards a game and five touchdowns, but he’s more than talented enough to avoid turning the ball over in key moments, making smart reads and keeping his offense moving when it matters most.
As for Ware, he may be 33 and in the home stretch of his career, but he’s still playing well. In the divisional round victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ware had two tackles for loss and a sack, showing that he can still be a force for Denver’s defense. The pressure Ware applied to Brady late in the during the AFC Championship on key drives is evidence enough.
2. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders
Manning’s two favorite targets without question are Thomas and Sanders, who combined for 16 targets in the divisional round victory. While they combined for just nine catches for 125 yards, the fact that they are reliable and consistent targets for Manning is what makes all the difference.
When you have two receivers who have topped 1,100 yards and have 12 combined touchdowns, it’s obvious that they’re going to play a huge role. It’ll be even more important to utilize these two players simply due to the fact that all three remaining teams have high-flying offenses who can put major points on the board.
Expect to see a lot of Thomas and Sanders in Super Bowl 50.
3. Shutdown secondary
When looking at the numbers, it’s obvious that the Broncos have one of the best defenses in the NFL, but let’s start it off with their secondary. One number stands out and is absolutely unreal to think about in the pass-heavy league that the NFL has become.
The Broncos have allowed exactly seven touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over the 16 regular season games. That’s almost unreal to think about, but to make it even better, they are the only team in the NFL to allow less than 2,000 yards to opposing wide outs.
4. Incredible pass rush
Over the span of the 2015 regular season, the Broncos led the league with a ridiculously impressive 52 sacks. In comparison, the team with the fewest sacks was the Atlanta Falcons, with 19. Denver gets pressure on opposing quarterbacks at a terrific rate, and that’s also a reason why the team has held opposing quarterbacks to a league-best 3,544 yards passing. Denver is also tied for the third-fewest touchdown passes allowed at 19 as well.
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All statistics courtesy of ESPN.