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Peyton Manning the "game manager" makes the Broncos contenders in the postseason

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A mistake-free and productive Manning makes the Broncos a very real contender in the AFC, says Pro Football Focus

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus believes if Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning can play mistake free football and be a "game manager" like he was against San Diego, the Broncos are real contenders in the AFC.

They also believe that if Manning can be that "game manager" that the Broncos will be better off in the postseason with Manning than they would be with quarterback Brock Osweiler.

Now this would mean that Manning would have to stop turning the ball over like he was prior to his injuries. Despite not playing since week 10, Manning only lost his interception lead in week 17. If those mistakes continue, the Broncos postseason dreams will be shattered. If he corrects them and looks like he did in limited action against the Chargers, the Broncos can be a real force in the AFC.

Pro Football Focus Senior Analyst Rick Drummond noticed the instant change in the Broncos offense once Manning entered the game for Brock Osweiler on Sunday. He says that the Broncos offense once again looked like the Broncos offense we have grown accustomed to seeing.

"When the Broncos made the switch back to QB Peyton Manning in the second half of this one, there was a noticeable change in the Denver attack. Gone were the long drop backs, muddy pockets and slower-developing outside zone runs and in their place were the quick-hit throws and inside zone runs from the shotgun, along with a more urgent — and confident — overall pace. In short, the Broncos looked more like the Broncos again."

What really stood out to me was Manning's quick-hit throws, his control of the offense, and everything was just working better than it was.  Also, Manning's arm looked more lively than it did earlier in the season. He was stretching the field and able to make all the throws asked of him.

Manning's presence at the line was also evident. He was waving his hands, calling the audibles, adjusting the blocking assignments, doing his classic hard count, and just everything you expect from him.

If Manning can do all this, stop the turnovers, and let the running game and defense do their thing, the Broncos could have a special and magical run in them.