Perspective is everything--it frames our outlook and reactions to events. Seen from point A, things look differently than they do from point B. Most Broncos fans at the beginning of the season expected this team to be good. Most thought we would rack up 10-11 wins en route to another AFC West Championship and playoff berth. I can remember compiling numbers to show how the Broncos could be both a top 10 team on offense and defense.
And then it happened----this team transformed itself from being mistake prone and disjointed into a team that was dominant in all three phases of the game. All it took was one half of football to simultaneously stomp out the hope of a division foe and change our trajectory towards being tops in the AFC.
Throughout the 11- game streak, many of us looked for games that would be "trap games." It never game, not on the road against the Chiefs, not Thursday night against the Raiders or more than a week after against Baltimore, nor did it happen when all the Broncos needed to do was win to secure a first round bye. The point is this team didn't get too high on it's success and they continued to find ways to improve along the way---even after beating teams by double digits.
I'm trying to get at something here and the best way I can say it, is that this team is unlike other Broncos playoffs teams from the past. I've read and listened to all things Broncos over the course of the season and one thing that keeps popping up is the fact in '05, the Broncos didn't show up against Pittsburgh with a berth to the SB as the reward. Champ has stated how different things were then and now. If I could sum it up in a word, it would be "professionalism".
Watching Manning run our offense down the field is the first indication we have that exhibits this characteristic and highlights the overall identity of our team. Nothing about it is real flashy. Move guys around, exploit matchups, move the ball methodically, and take what the defense gives you. Nothing more, nothing less. Move the ball in short gains or chunks---it's entirely up to the defense. The thing is they do their job and the expectation is that they will score.
So, 5 paragraphs in, what the hell is your point Bronco Mike?
The point is, whether we as fans expected the road to the Super Bowl to go through our house or not, whether we expected to contend in year 1 of Manning's tenure here, whether we expected to be in this position----whether the players expected it or not, we're here.
We sit at #1 with home field advantage, on an 11 game winning streak, with a top 5 offense and defense, with enough talent in all three phases to match up favorably with any opponent.
The path to a world championship goes through us. A lot will be made in subsequent days about Manning's playoff record and failures of the past. The way I see things now it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the here and now, and right now----this is the best position to be in to win a championship.
Whether or not the Broncos are ready for it will be the true test.
We know enough as fans that have suffered through a lot of mediocrity that we have something special here. I don't want to look ahead two, three, four years down the line in speculating about a championship. We are here now. The Broncos want to be world Champs? Now's the time!