The Denver Broncos are the odds-on favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl at this point in the season, and are arguably the top team in the entire NFL right now. After five weeks of football, their offense looks unstoppable and the Broncos’ only close game came in a career performance by Tony Romo, but even that 506-yard, five-touchdown gem couldn’t take the Broncos out.
At this point, it’s hard to argue that any other team in the NFL is better than the Broncos, but you could make an argument that the Seahawks have enough talent in the secondary to slow down Denver’s pass attack and give the Broncos a run for their money.
Regardless of how the Broncos play the rest of the season, one thing is certain of them heading into this week: they will come out of it 6-0, as they are playing the worst team in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars. A true barometer of just how good Denver is will come in week seven against Peyton Manning’s old squad, the Indianapolis Colts.
I will hold off anointing the Broncos the best team in the NFL by a mile until I see how they fare on the road against a suddenly, dare I say, “elite” Colts squad. However, until that week, I’m arguing the Broncos have a slight, yet clear, edge over Seattle, Indianapolis and San Francisco as the top team in the league.
What I will argue though, is that Peyton Manning is by far the best quarterback in the league right now, setting an NFL record for the most touchdown passes (20) during the first five games of the season. On Sunday, Manning passed Dan Marino for second all-time in career passing yards and is about 10,000 behind leader Brett Favre. Manning will most definitely go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, and if he can keep up his elite performance level, and even add a Super Bowl victory or two to his resume, that stock will go even higher.
For all of the Broncos’ ability in the pass game, Denver has a somewhat questionable running game, with no real dominant running back. While that may not be an issue when looking at the history of recent Super Bowl champions, the lack of a back that is capable of racking up 100 yards on a weekly basis could develop into an issue.
Defensively, Denver gives up a ton of yards through the air, as evidenced by Romo’s performance this past week. But the return of Von Miller from suspension should aid in the Broncos pressuring opposing quarterbacks and forcing them to get rid of the ball before they locate an open receiver.
If I had to make a call right now, I’d select Denver to defeat Seattle in the Super Bowl this season, but injuries happen, and if a team gets hot at the right time, like the Ravens last season, all predictions are thrown out the window, especially after only five weeks of the season.
I’m saying that Denver is elite, but historically average, as many other teams in the history of football had fewer weak spots and areas of concern than the Broncos.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of October 8, 2013’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Art by Emily Zhang of The Daily Nexus.