Why the Broncos: Peyton's will enough to carry Denver

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 1, 2014 

Sorry, 12s.

I know even whispering these two words here in the Pacific Northwest on a day like today will relegate me to the level of Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett, but ...

GO BRONCOS!

I'm not saying this because I'm a Hawks Hater or because I didn't like what Richard Sherman had to say.

And I'm not some bandwagon fan jumping on the Peyton Manning express.

I'm a transplanted Broncomaniac, through-and-through.

I grew up in Loveland, Colo., a small city along the foothills — very similar to Bellingham, in many respects — located about an hour north of Denver along Interstate 25.

My family moved to the state two days before my fifth birthday, which also happened to be just weeks before the Broncos opened training camp for their first Super Bowl run in 1977.

Though I wasn't a football fan at that time, when I did start watching the greatest game on earth in 1980, there was only one team I had an eye for - the Broncos were the only team.

They broke my eighth-grade heart when they lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XXI, crushed me by allowing 35 second-quarter points to the Redskins a year later and caused a little part of me to die when Joe Montana ripped them in Super Bowl XXIV.

You cut me, and I bleed orange.

When I became a teenager who thought he knew everything, the Broncos were the one subject my father and I always could hold a conversation about.

When I went away to college at the University of Colorado, Boulder, my family got lucky enough to have our number come up for season tickets, because my father was smart enough to put his name on the wait list the first year we moved there.

That's right - a 16-year wait list. Fans in Denver actually put their season ticket rights in their wills. Getting those tickets allowed me a chance to see my parents every other weekend during the fall at old Mile High Stadium.

For three years I got to witness what I believe to be the greatest who ever played - John Elway.

Thanks to Brian Bosworth, fans up here like to bring up Elway's teeth, overlooking the fact that he retired with the most wins by a quarterback in NFL history. And by the way, "Boz," I believe Denver won that game 40-17, but at least you had your acting career.

Just like when they had Elway, the Broncos now feature one of the top signal callers to ever crouch behind center.

Manning directs the top statistical offense in the NFL this season, and everybody will be watching to see how Denver's offense matches up with Seattle's top-ranked defense.

As my colleague, who has lived his entire life here in the Pacific Northwest, pointed out, Denver has not faced a defense near as good as the Seahawks this season, and I will not dispute that. In fact, he went on to break out the calculator and figured that the Broncos, on average, faced the 21st-best defense in the league this year.

Hate to burst your bubble Seattle, but you're looking into a mirror.

Turns out the Seahawks faced offenses that averaged an equally meager 20th in total points scored this year and were 21st in total offensive yards. In fact, Seattle faced four of the bottom five teams in both categories this year.

The only team Seattle faced in the top 10 in either category was New Orleans, which ranked fourth in yardage and 10th in scoring. Indeed, Seattle impressively shut down the Saints, but unless Seahawks fans can gobble up substantially more than the 17.5-percent of Super Bowl tickets allotted to the NFC Champions and Paul Allen can quickly fund a way to audibly enhance MetLife Stadium to perform more like CenturyLink Field, the defense is not going to have the benefit of the "12th Man."

I'm not taking anything away from Seattle's defense. There is no doubt that they were outstanding this year - the best the league had to offer.

But in Super Bowl XLVIII, it will be facing the most productive offense in the history of the league.

And if anybody is going to find a way to beat a stout Seattle defense, especially when he's had two weeks to study, my money would be on Manning.

Manning is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and not just some guy wearing a yellow jacket - he is a legend. One of the truly elite. On the Mount Rushmore of his era. He's a guy that whether he plays for your team or not, you have to respect. I know I did when he and the Colts used to beat up on the Broncos.

He is rightfully mentioned in debates about the greatest to ever play the game. A player that transcends his sport - one who is simply known worldwide by one word, "Peyton," just like "Elway," "Montana," "Brady," "Jordan," "Bird," "Magic," "Wilt," "Mickey," "Hank," "The Babe," "Gretzky," "Martina," "Pele," etc.

Manning realizes this could be his last good shot to win another title. And that creates a great hunger in legends which takes them to another level.

I was lucky enough to witness that drive in Elway 17 years ago. There was no way Elway was going to lose Super Bowl XXXII.

Elway certainly didn't win that game against the Packers by himself, just as Jordan didn't win six NBA titles on his own. But Elway's competitiveness and determination- maybe even his desperation - fueled his teammates and spurred the Broncos to the title. Remember the Chopper 7 run and what it did for that team? Or how about what Ray Lewis did just one year ago?

I see Manning doing something similar Sunday. He's a man on a mission, and he's made a team that was already good enough to win a playoff game with Tim Tebow two years ago into something special.

I realize I'm looking at this through my orange and blue tinted glasses - gotta love those Colorado sunsets - but I believe Manning's will and his right arm, will carry the Broncos to victory.

Prediction: Broncos 28, Seahawks 17, Manning leads the team on a fourth-quarter drive to put the game away.

Reach David Rasbach at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2286.

Reach DAVID RASBACH at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2271.

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