Last year, the Broncos started 1-2 then 2-3 before finding their groove, winning 11 games in a row by eight or more points each.
This year, the Broncos have exploded out of the gates, scoring more points against the Ravens than anyone ever has, with quarterback Peyton Manning firing seven touchdown passes after lightning delayed the start of the game and disrupted Manning’s routine.
The 2013 schedule doesn’t feature any other defending Super Bowl champions. Though Denver starts the year by facing the last two (next up is a trip to New York to face the Giants), the schedule gets soft — with two games each against the Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers, along with contests against the Jaguars and Titans. It’s a point Erik Kuselias made on Friday’s edition of Pro Football Talk; with a great start and a relatively soft schedule, the Broncos could be on their way to the No. 1 seed, again.
Sure, the Broncos have to face the rest of the AFC South and the rest of the NFC East. Based on the way they looked on Thursday night, however, another 13-3 finish is realistic.
The question then becomes whether the Broncos can keep it going in January. They didn’t last year, obviously. With a career postseason record of 9-11 and eight one-and-done performances in the playoffs, Manning’s legacy will be advanced not by what he does over the next 15 games but what he does over the next three.