The Denver Broncos have squirreled away their second AFC West Championship in a row with four games yet to play in the in the 2012 regular season. They're playing now for playoff seeding. If things come together over the next several weeks, the Broncos could wind up with a bye week and home-field advantage right up until the Super Bowl.
All they do is win. Yes, Denver's offense has had it's share of early coughs and sputters (these were most pronounced in Kansas City) but, all in all, the feeling's always there that they're going to bring it home in the fourth quarter. We're never really even worried anymore, are we?
The Buccaneers came in presumed to be one of the better teams the Broncos would face all season, yet looked to be on an altogether lower tier than the Orange and Blue as the game in sunny Mile High unfolded. It's been this way since that 35-point second half in San Diego. That's when Peyton Manning showed Broncos Country that his team would never be out of it so long as his coaches were willing simply to let him take the reigns. Even when the Broncos are behind, they are ahead so long as PFM is in the mix. He's a transcendent player, and even opposing coaches know it.
Maybe I am just addicted to drama, or maybe I don't know how to handle success, but I find myself a little bit bored by the Broncos, their efficiency and their comfort level with Manning. Their dusting of their division has been pleasing, but wasn't it more fun going 8-8, winning the AFC West on the last possible day, and going into the post-season as a Wild Card team? Wasn't that more along the lines of what we are used to as Denver Sports fans?
It's something we are adjusting to, this kind of winning. Our teams are supposed to come out nowhere like the 2007 Rockies, who won eleven straight at the tail end of the season to make the Playoffs, and ultimately advance to the World Series. That turn of events was so shocking that the team had no idea even how to distribute tickets! The Rockies were swept, of course, by the Red Sox, which felt just about right.
And people wonder why we still talk about Tim Tebow. Didn't his style of winning just suit Denver's perfectly? Just when you thought you could count Tim out he would do something incredible. Or, if not, the opponent would make some unlikely mishap that put Tim in a position to win. He was captivating to watch. With Tebow, every outcome was uncertain.
John Elway himself helped us acquire our taste for the impossible. The King of the Comeback put together jaw-dropping wins on several occasions after fans had vacated Mile High Stadium. He led teams to wildly unlikely victories with plays like "the catch" and "the helicopter". He propelled a Wild Card to a Championship in Super Bowl XXXII, proving all the experts wrong.
We must look back as far to the 1998 / 1999 season to recall a Broncos team that was really in the driver’s seat. Prior to that, the Avalanche teams of the mid-1990’s provided fans with a sense of likely, if not inevitable success. Aside from that solitary Broncos campaign, and those dominant Avalanche teams (who had only just departed Quebec), Denver fans have not been treated to very much confidence or security from sports.
And yet the 2012 / 2013 Denver Broncos appear to be on track to provide very little in terms of real excitement until the playoffs start. For the time being they have established machine-like predictability. Maybe that shouldn’t be boring to me. Maybe it’s what I should expect. But I am not a Patriots fan. It’s not what I expect and it’s not what I am used to.
I don’t know how I am supposed to reconcile the idea that it’s not going to take any last-moment heroics for Denver to advance this time. They’re headed into the post-season, hopefully with a full head of steam. They have the right guy in the front office, the right guy under center, and a coaching staff that’s puching all the right buttons. They’re all professionals just handling their business.
Meanwhile, the Rockies have a new manager who was most recently coaching high-school kids and they are coming off of their worst season ever. Nobody knows what to expect from the ever-changing Nuggets and their polarizing head coach. The Colorado Buffaloes are scraping rock-bottom and looking for a new leader and the Avalanche are embroiled in a nasty and never-ending labor dispute.
The Broncos don’t fit in. They’re boring - and I like it that way.