1998 Denver Broncos v. 2013 Denver Broncos: Who wins?

Hello folks, a fantastic question came along in the mailbag this week. If the 1998 Broncos played the 2013 Broncos who would come out on top? We have some great answers from the staffers but before we get into it, let's take a look at both teams.

Tale of the Tape

Position

98' Broncos

Awards

13' Broncos

Awards

QB

John Elway

Pro Bowl

SB MVP

Peyton Manning

All Pro

Pro Bowl

RB

Terrell Davis

All Pro

Pro Bowl

MVP

Montee Ball

---

FB

Howard Griffith

---

-----

---

WR

Ed McCaffrey

Pro Bowl

Demaryius Thomas

Pro Bowl

WR

Rod Smith

---

Eric Decker

---

WR

-----

---

Wes Welker

Pro Bowl

TE

Shannon Sharpe

All Pro

Pro Bowl

Joel Dreessen

---

LT

Tony Jones

Pro Bowl

Ryan Clady

All Pro

Pro Bowl

LG

Mark Schlereth

Pro Bowl

Zane Beadles

Pro Bowl

C

Tom Nalen

Pro Bowl

J.D. Walton

---

RG

Dan Neil

---

Louis Vasquez

---

RT

Harry Swayne

---

Orlando Franklin

---

LDE

Neil Smith

---

Derek Wolfe

---

DT

Keith Traylor

---

Sylvester Williams

---

DT

Trevor Pryce

---

Terrence Knighton

---

RDE

Maa Tanuvasa

---

Robert Ayers

---

SAM

Bill Romanowski

Pro Bowl

Von Miller

All Pro

Pro Bowl

MIKE

Glenn Cadrez

---

Nate Irving

---

WILL

John Mobley

---

Wesley Woodyard

---

CB

Ray Crockett

---

Champ Bailey

Pro Bowl

CB

Darrien Gordon

---

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

---

CB

----

---

Chris Harris

---

SS

Tyrone Braxton

---

Mike Adams

---

FS

Steve Atwater

Pro Bowl

Rahim Moore

---

K

Jason Elam

Pro Bowl

Matt Prater

---

P

Tom Rouen

---

Britton Colquitt

---

KR/PR

Darrien Gordon

---

Trindon Holliday

---

- The 98' Broncos had 10 Pro Bowlers, 2 All Pros, as well as the league and super bowl MVP

- The 2012 Broncos had 7 Pro Bowlers and 3 All Pros.

- The 98' Broncos had the 2nd rated scoring offense with 31.3 PPG, the 12' Broncos had the 2nd rated scoring offense with 30.1 PPG.

- The 98' Broncos had the 8th ranked scoring defense allowing 19.3 PPG, the 12' Broncos had the 4th rated scoring defense allowing 18.1 PPG.

Offense

The 1998 Denver Broncos ran Mike Shanahan's west coast offense. It relied heavily upon the legs of Terrell Davis. This team was known for getting out to fast starts then grinding out their opponents and wearing them down on the ground. They ran their offense primarily out of 21 personnel. Howard Griffith was the FB and unsung hero of the offense. Rod Smith, Eddy McCaffrey and Shannon Sharpe were all very good blockers. This personnel group gave the Broncos tons of flexibility as Shannon Sharpe was more in the mold of a slot receiver. With this group you could max protect, send either back out to catch a pass, run it down the defenses throat, and stretch the field vertically. Terrell Davis is known primarily for his running ability, but he was flexed out quite a bit as a wide receiver when the Broncos were in shotgun formation.

The 2013 Denver Broncos and their offense ticks with Peyton Manning. This squad is built to use Manning's cerebral prowess to exploit mismatches in the defense. It is a pass happy attack that utilizes the run game to open up playaction, but make no mistake, the running game is just a peripheral part of the equation. This squad runs primarily out of 11 personnel. Both DT and Decker are good blockers. Jacob Tamme is probably more in line with Shannon Sharpe's skill set as a receiver but Joel Dreessen is the TE that approaches Sharpe's blocking ability. The 2013 Broncos utilize a run by committee approach, but perhaps the drafting of RB Montee Ball signals a change toward more of a workhorse mentality. This offense takes shots down the field as well....but while Manning may be the more accurate passer, Elway is more capable of pushing the ball down the field.

Edge: 1998 Broncos

Remember, John Elway sat out 4 games that season with hamstring issues and the Broncos still dominated those games offensively. If Peyton Manning were to go down this offense would have a hard time clicking. Overall, I think Peyton Manning has an edge over Elway in this era of their career, Sharpe and McCaffrey have an edge over Tamme/Dreessen and Decker and Thomas has an edge over Rod Smith. I would take the 98' offensive line over the 13' offensive line.

Defense

The 1998 squad ran a common 4-3 defense that featured more of a traditional look with a three down Mike backer. They were an aggressive group that liked to blitz quite a bit on 2nd and 3rd down. One of their defining qualities was having Steve Atwater roam the field as a FS and lay the wood on people that came over the middle. Had he played in today's game his hits would have garnered multiple fines and probably suspensions. This team wasn't as good as the current squad on the perimeter and their pass rush was generated more through extra blitzers than the front 4.

The 2013 squad runs a hybrid under front that resembles an odd front team. Their base defense in all honesty is the 4-2-5 nickel package. This grouping highlights the strength and ability of the Broncos secondary to play man coverage across the board and get consistent pressure up front with the down linemen. Jack Del Rio is not adverse to bringing blitzes as he has been known to bring many creative and diverse blitz schemes to the Broncos playbook on Sundays.

Edge: 2013 Broncos

About the only places the 1998 Broncos hold over on the current group is the safety position with Steve Atwater and Tyrone Braxton, and the DE position with Neil Smith over Robert Ayers. Everywhere else, the 2013 Broncos are better. They also have a chance to be historically good in 2013.

Special Teams

Tom Rouen, Jason Elam, Darrien Gordon. Rouen was a reliable yet unspectacular punter, Elam was pretty much everything Prater isn't: accurate and reliable, and while Gordon is no Trindon Holliday, you have to go back that far to find when the Broncos were a threat in the return game. Colquitt over Rouen, Holliday over Gordon, and Elam over Prater.

Edge: Draw

Both special teams have strengths and weaknesses. If Trindon Holliday can continue his incredible mark on the team, you can tip the scale towards the 13' Broncos

Staff Reactions

Topher Doll

I would have to go with the current roster. We all love Elway, but his 1998, while good, wasn't nearly at Peyton's level if he plays like he did last season. Haha I'm sitting here thinking how this could be a post but I won't go that deep for now. I give the 1998 Broncos the edge in one areas, the run offense was vastly better but TD was also the focus of the offense compared to Peyton being the current focus. Davis was just better than our current roster of backs. I can say with nearly 100% certainty that the passing offense is superior and I also think the offensive line is better. When it comes the receivers it likely would come out as a tie, both teams had two 1,000 yard receivers and had great talent. Tight end could go to Sharpe for overall talent but in terms of production if you combine Tamme and Dreessen's production and importance to the offense I'd say that's a tie as well.

While the 1998 defense was good with a great run defense the current defense is better overall. The 2012 defense allowed fewer touchdowns, yards, had more sacks and had a lower yards per play. Hard to argue with that.

Big Pete

It's usually pretty hard to compare teams from 1 era to another, and like it or not, it's been 15 years since the Broncos were in the Superbowl. That is practically an "era" in today's game. Each year players enter the NFL bigger, stronger, and faster than the year before. The past teams also operated under a different set of rules as well. With that said, I'm going to assume that the 1997/1998 Denver Broncos would time warp into the future to meet the 2013 Denver Broncos (and thus play under 2013 rules).

I can see it now, The Provider trotting to mid field alongside Terrell Davis and Steve Atwater. There, they'd meet Peyton freaking Manning, Von Miller, and Montee Ball (hey, it's my scenario, not yours, I can have Ball as a captain if I darn well please!!!). I haven't seen a stare down this intense since I watched Rocky 4. I think the on field microphones just picked up Atwater saying something about ending Manning's career the same way he did Okoye's! Yikes!

Anyway, on to the game. Assuming they are playing under 2013 rules, I can see this being a complete offensive showdown. Elway being able to throw the ball to Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey, and Shannon Sharp without them being able to be touched after 5 yards is easy pickings for The Duke. Add in that we have Terrell Davis running through and over the defense, and taking pitches and swing passes up the sideline, and I can see this 1998 team racking up points into the 50's (hell, they racked up points into the high 30's and 40's while resting starters in the 2nd half of games that year).

Champ will pick off at least 1 pass though, cause Elway will force a few passes into coverage that he shouldn't, but hey, that's the type of QB Elway is. He believes in his arm and his receivers' ability to get open and catch balls in traffic. TD will have his way with our defensive line, but he will have very limited success if he tries to take a pitch or a quick out to Von Miller's side of the field. Miller will shut that stuff down all day. I can easily see Davis having 350 rushing yards and 4 TDs. He is just that good and that dominant. Our offensive line was working in beautiful symphony, so our current defensive line would be greatly outmatched.

Flip over to the other side, and I can see Peyton Manning completely devastating the 1998 defense. I mean Ray Crockett? Puhhhlease. Thomas would be as devastating to the 1998 defense as Terrell Davis would be against the 2013 defense. DT would have at least 250 yards and 3 TDs. Minimum. Decker would have about 60-80 yards, and Welker would add in about 15. Why only 15 yards for Welker? It's easy; Steve Atwater knocks him out halfway through the opening drive! Add in that Montee Ball is practically Terrell Davis 2.0, and the 2013 Denver Broncos will put up one hell of a fight.

However, in the end, this is a game that will be won or lost by the quarterback. Which QB will blink first? In the end, if this were a championship game, I'm giving it to the 1998 Denver Broncos. I love me some Peyton Manning, but he chokes in huge moments far too often for me to say that he'll get the best of a John Elway led team. The 1998 team would not be too "stunned" to take the damn field after an improbable play. That is why they are champions and the 2012 Broncos were not, and that is why in the end, they'd beat the 2013 Denver Broncos in a game for all the marbles. [A side note is that Atwater will once again not remember the end of the game, because he will knock out DT, Decker, and Dreeson a few plays before regulation ended, thus ensuring a 1998 Broncos victory!]

Christopher Hart

I would give the edge to the team that was 14-2 and won the Super Bowl. That team sported John Elway, Terrell Davis' memorable 2,000 yard campaign, two star receivers in Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith and a Hall of Fame tight end in Shannon Sharpe. They put up over 500 points of offense, which was more than last years effort under Manning and one of the most prestigious displays of ball movement in NFL History. I am still disappointed the Broncos didn't get the opportunity to take on the Vikings that year who had a lethal offensive set-up as well.

Alas, the 2013 Denver Broncos look to be strong -- very strong. Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker rival the passing prowess of the 1998 team, however we currently do not have the proven (elite) running game (as of now) on this years roster. On the offensive line, I see more leadership, consistency and quality on the championship team that also gives them the edge. That being said, the 1998 team wins offensively.

On the other hand -- when you look at the defensive side of the ball, both teams have an impressive statistical outlook. The 1998 Broncos may not match up in overall completeness in terms of pass rush, but they created more turnovers than the guys on our roster this year and were amongst the tops in the league regarding points allowed. Another thing to keep in mind ball control and security. The 1998 Broncos had a +10 turnover differential while last years Broncos were -1 in that regard. That team got after the ball big time and ended a lot of opponents opportunities by creating big plays -- something our current roster needs to get better at. Considering the aforementioned, I would have to give another point to the Super Bowl Champion Broncos roster. The 2013 team will have to improve upon its 2012 campaign and l limit the amount of takeaways (especially with fumbles).

Brian Shrout

May be seen as living in the past, but I'm inclined to believe that in a face-off between the 98/99 Broncos and the 13/14 Broncos, the 98/99 version would win out. There are a couple of reasons for this: one is continuity -- the 98 Broncos were coming off a Super Bowl victory year and looking for a repeat with a roster that had largely been together for a while while the 13 Broncos are in just their second season under Manning's direction. A second thought is the defenses -- while it's true that the 13 defense ranked better in both points and yards than the 98 defense, the 98 defense ranked significantly better in take aways.

Ian Henson

2013 Broncos would kill them with kindness and respect. Don't kill me with anger, but Peyton's better than John Elway was, Terrell Davis is formidable, but comparable to say an Adrian Peterson. The 2013 Denver Broncos lost four games last season and never by more than three points, but imagine Shannon Sharpe going at Von Miller? Bill Romanowski owning Orlando Franklin, Champ Bailey on Rod Smith or Ed McCaffrey. Where the '98/'99 Broncos get killed though is in the '13 Broncos receiving corps. Who is on Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker AND Wes Welker? Darrien Gordon, Ray Crocket and then who? Steve Atwater? Tyrone Braxton? The third corner those years was Darrius Johnson...

Where the '13 Broncos have an issue is the strength of those '98/'99 teams defensive lines: Neil Smith, Alfred Williams, Maa Tanuvasa, Trevor Pryce, Harold Hasselbach and even Romanowski on the left side... Just a lot of trouble for Peyton and Co..

Also, for anyone wanting me to mention Al Wilson, he was drafted in '99 and had 58 tackles that season.


My Take

I think both offenses have good matchups to exploit. I think the 98' offense could challenge the 13' defense especially with a strong running game that will set up shots down the field against a pair of safeties that quite honestly have a hard time playing consistently. The pass rush aspect and versatility of the 2013 defense would also have to account for a mobile John Elway who still had some gas in the tank. Overall, I think Terrell Davis could run against anyone so I would also give the edge there.

With the 2013 offense, I have visions of the Colts playoff games in my mind. The 1998 secondary would have a hard time competing with Thomas, Decker, Welker, and Tamme. I also think that Peyton would pick apart a defense that tended to blitz quite a bit. One of the strengths is on the interior D-line where rookie Trevor Pryce recorded 8.5 sacks.

Overall, I like the strength of the 2013 Defense to minimize scoring opportunities and I think the matchup here is closer than the 2013 offense facing the 1998 defense. Special teams is a wash, but if we're talking about the game coming down to a game winning FG, I'll take Jason Elam over Matt Prater everyday of the week.

Final Score: 2013 Broncos 38, 1998 Broncos 35 in 2OT (see what I did there?)

Speculation and fantasy aside though, the 1998 Broncos actually won the super bowl. If the 2013 Broncos can't accomplish that goal they won't be remembered as one of the greatest Broncos teams in history. Time to get to work and win a championship Broncos Country!

What say you MHR? Who wins this hypothetical matchup?

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Mile High Report

You must be a member of Mile High Report to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Mile High Report. You should read them.

Join Mile High Report

You must be a member of Mile High Report to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Mile High Report. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker