Are you ready for some football? Some PLAYOFF football?
I know I am.
Sure, it was only a year ago we were celebrating one of the most incredible wins the franchise has ever seen. January 8, 2012. I might as well have been 1912 it feels so long ago.
I've talked many times about my feelings regarding the 2011 Denver Broncos. Of course those in Tebow-land think I am just bashing him. I'm not. I'm just agreeing with John Elway. 2011 was incredible. That playoff win over the Steelers, and the feelings during and just after it, will be cherished memories of mine forever. Check out the video below - CHILLS!
This is different.
2012 has been incredible for it's own reasons. 13-3 for the first time since 2005. The top seed in the AFC for the first time since 1998. 11 straight wins. A 24-point comeback - against the hated San Diego Chargers no less - on Monday Night Football. The greatness of Peyton Manning.
Nothing will ever feel like 2011 because there was a sense that 2011 wasn't real. No, 2011 stands on its own.
2012 does feel familiar to me. It feels like 1997. It feels like 1998. It feels like the Denver Broncos are ready to win and win BIG.
Obviously there are plenty of things that can go wrong. Hell, the 1996 Broncos may have been the best of the 3 teams that went 39-9 in the regular season from 1996-98. What did that get them? A home-loss to the Jacskonville Jaguars, a team in their 2nd season of existence.
No, nothing is given, all must be earned, but this Denver Broncos team FEELS like a championship team, just like those teams felt like a championship team.
It starts at the top. Nothing more can be said about John Elway. He brought the Broncos back - again - and has them on the cusp of greatness. Who better to say what a championship team - and quarterback - look like than a guy that went to 6 AFC Championship Games, 5 Super Bowls and won the last two Super Bowls he played in? He knew the 2011 Broncos weren't there and he knew why.
You need the right guy to command the ship. Where the Broncos were just 18 months ago, there was no better man for that job than John Fox. As even-keeled as they get, Fox was exactly what the Broncos needed, when they needed it. He proved in Carolina he could win big without a stud quarterback.
The glory-days Broncos had an elite quarterback as well. This version has that as well - one that might even be better - though you'll never get me, or anyone in Broncos Country to admit it. Elway did. He said his job was to make Peyton Manning the greatest quarterback that ever played. Win a Super Bowl this season, with the way he's played coming off four neck surgeries, and he may jump to the top of the list.
The Broncos have not just one, but two elite pass rushers. Get a lead and look out. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil are coming after you. To be honest, no Broncos team in history has had two guys like that - and I have mad respect and love for the 70's Orange Crush and the 90's teams, but these guys are different. Von Miller will go down as the greatest Broncos' sack master ever when it is all said and done. Add that to Dumervil, and an all-time great like Champ Bailey? Whoa.
The defense is playing at a lever not seen around these parts in a long time. They don't have to sell out, take chances to make a big play anymore. No, they can play fundamental, AGGRESSIVE, football. No more high-risk, high-reward that led to some of those blowout games we've seen. Not with #18 on the other sideline. The results are obvious. Denver has forced teams to go the long way to score. When Denver gets a lead, the Broncos attack, and they get stronger as a game goes on - not weaker - like we've seen in the past.
Look at the 2nd half of games this season. Denver - BY FAR - lead the NFL in 2nd half point differential.
Notice the top four teams on that list are all playing this weekend. +161! Double the amount of the #2 team, New England.
What about historically?
Look at that list. The '85 Bears? Super Bowl Champs. The '96 Packers? Super Bowl Champs. The '91 Redskins? Super Bowl Champs. Even the '96 Panthers made it to the NFC Championship Game before losing to the Packers.
Historical stuff, guys!
If you are like me, sitting, waiting impatiently for the playoffs to begin thinking that this year it feels different it's because it IS different. This Broncos team is different. Just one year removed, the Broncos have gone form pretenders to contenders. This is already one of the great Broncos teams because it had one of the great seasons in NFL history.
Now they must finish the deal. Who knows what will happen Saturday, or next weekend, or February 3rd, for that matter. Strange things happen to an oblong ball being played with by 22 huge men. I do know this, however, 2012 has been an awesome season. The fun is just beginning. I hope YOU are ready.
I know YOU are!