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How far could the broncos go? An ESPN insider article.

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  • How far could the broncos go? An ESPN insider article.

    Another pretty good read from the people over at ESPN insider.

    One of the reasons that Peyton Manning's career does not contain more Super Bowl victories is that too often his teams have faced an unfavorable playoff slate. Four times in the nine postseason tournaments when Manning's clubs didn't make the Super Bowl, they faced a team that eventually won the Super Bowl or AFC Championship Game. In each of those matchups the opposing club's roster was built in a way that did not portend well for the Indianapolis Colts' chances.

    That does not look to be the case for Manning's 2012 team, as many facets of the Denver Broncos' roster and potential playoff matchups point toward this team being in a very good spot to run the postseason table.

    It starts, of course, with Manning.

    He leads the league in ESPN's Total QBR metric, ranks fourth in yards per attempt (YPA) and has a superb 29-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

    As terrific as his stats are overall, what is more impressive is how they compare to his numbers from the 2010 season, the last campaign he played in before this year.

    Here are his YPA figures by route-depth level this season versus the 2010 season:

    Peyton Manning's stats by route depth, 2010 versus 2012
    Route Depth 2010 YPA 2012 YPA Variance
    Short (1-10 yards) 5.9 6.8 0.9
    Medium (11-19 yards) 9.1 9.3 0.2
    Deep (20-29 yards) 9.0 14.9 5.9
    Bomb (30-plus yards) 15.1 15.1 0.0
    Vertical (11-plus yards) 9.7 11.5 1.8
    Stretch vertical (20-plus yards) 10.7 15.0 4.3
    Total 6.9 7.9 1.0
    It would be enough if Manning had been able to improve his YPA totals at nearly every route depth from when he was 34 years old (his age in the 2010 season) to 36 years old (his age this season). Doing so after missing an entire season, going through four surgical procedures, changing teams and joining what was a run-first club in the previous season is the type of thing one puts at the top of a first-ballot Hall of Famer's résumé.

    What is even more amazing is that Manning also improved his decision-making skills. For most of his career, Manning typically posted a bad-decision rate (BDR) somewhere in the range of 2-2.5 percent (bad decisions being defined as mental errors made by a passer that lead to a turnover opportunity for the opposing team).

    That is a solid total in that category, especially for someone who throws as many vertical passes as Manning does, but it was at least a step below the 0.8-1 percent BDR totals typically posted by Tom Brady.

    This season, Manning has posted a BDR of 1.9 percent, but that number is skewed upward by his three-interception game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3. Take that game (a contest in which Manning looked to be trying to prove that his arm was at full strength and therefore threw caution to the wind) out of the equation, and his BDR drops to a Tom Brady-like 1.2 percent.

    Manning also is getting the most of the Broncos' receiving talents, starting with Demaryius Thomas. After 12 games, Thomas has racked up a 21.2 stretch vertical YPA (SVYPA, which is YPA on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield) on 22 targets.

    Over the course of the entire 2011 season, only five receivers had a SVYPA of that level or higher (Jordy Nelson, Laurent Robinson, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston and Victor Cruz), and all of them posted those marks on 24 or fewer targets. If Thomas keeps this up through the end of the season, his SVYPA totals will be even better than that group, and as such, the case could be made that he is the most dangerous downfield threat in the NFL.

    One of the reasons Thomas is so dangerous is that if defenses attempt to sit back and stop the long ball, he can cause significant yardage damage on short routes, as he has averaged 7.7 YPA on 56 short pass attempts this year (defined as passes thrown 10 or fewer yards downfield).

    Thomas isn't the only pass-catcher capable of garnering big gains on dink-and-dunk throws, as Eric Decker (6.8 short YPA), Brandon Stokley (8.2 short YPA) and Jacob Tamme (7.0 short YPA) have all shown they can move the chains with great effectiveness in those situations.

    But offense isn't the only area where Denver has proved to be among the best in the league.

    The Broncos' run defense has been very stout, as it has allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards in nine of 12 games this year and has given up 71 or fewer rush yards in eight of those contests.

    In addition, Denver has allowed only five rushing touchdowns (tied for fourth-best in the NFL) to go along with only four rushes of 20 or more yards allowed (third-best) and zero rushes of 40 or more yards (tied for the best). The Broncos are also giving up only 3.6 yards per carry, a mark that ties them with the much-more-heralded San Francisco run defense for second-best in that category. The Broncos' pass coverage is nearly as stingy, as Denver is giving up only 6.4 yards per pass (fourth-best) and has 14 interceptions (tied for sixth-best).

    Denver's pass rush, led by MVP contender Von Miller, has also been strong. The Broncos rank second in the league in sacks (38) and sack percentage (8.0). This part of the D has helped the Broncos rank fourth-best in's adjusted net yards per attempt metric that accounts for sacks in grading a defense's overall performance against the pass.

    Finally, the Broncos can also lay claim to some special-teams strengths. Denver ranks third in the league in net punt average (44.5), tied for ninth in punt return average (10.9) and second in punt return average allowed (4.8).

    This combination of strong suits dovetails well with an AFC playoff field that is likely to include Baltimore (which has a slew of weaknesses), Pittsburgh (a team with a carousel at running back, an injured quarterback and a secondary that just lost one of its best cornerbacks for at least a few weeks), Indianapolis (which has an injury-ravaged secondary and a limited running game), Houston (which has seen its share of significant concerns in pass coverage) and New England (ranks 29th in pass yards allowed).

    To be fair, the Broncos did lose to both the Texans and Patriots earlier this season, but that was before Manning and this defense really started to hit their collective strides.

    As long as the Broncos keep performing at the level they are at today, there isn't a matchup in the AFC playoffs that they would find unfavorable. That kind of combination could mean Manning's comeback season will be one for the ages.
    Mile High Manning Fivehead Bandwagon #42

  • #2
    OH baby! I can't wait for the playoffs!

    Great article, thanks for posting!


    • #3
      Loved the article....thanks for posting!


      • #4
        Eh stats stats stats. The bottom line is if a team is good the are going to of course have good stats. The only real stat that matters is the score when the whistle ends the game. The last thing I'm thinking about I'd Deckers YPADGJRCHTVF on second and 3.


        • #5
          According to that analysis, Manning is airing it out better than before.

          Having previously lost to New England and Houston in the regular season may come in handy during the playoffs.

          What a studious and analytical article! :thumb:
          "Stultum est timere quod vitare non potes." ~ Publilius Syrus


          • #6
            Originally posted by JerseyAdam View Post
            Eh stats stats stats. The bottom line is if a team is good the are going to of course have good stats. The only real stat that matters is the score when the whistle ends the game. The last thing I'm thinking about I'd Deckers YPADGJRCHTVF on second and 3.
            Okay, so you didn't read it.

            The point was that Manning's playoff "woes" - if they can be called that - have had just as much to do with the team around him as his opponents. Now he's got a cast around him that eliminates those bugs. They pass both the eye test and the stat sheet.

            Stats are important. They show trends. They show progression. They show efficiency. Those things make that score when the whistle blows more likely to end in Denver's favor.

            All 3 of Denver's losses are EASILY attributed to the fact that the team simply was not gelling early in the season. They still had chances in each of those contests. They'd crush Atlanta and New England right now, and Houston would probably be looking at the Packers game v2.0.


            • #7
              I wonder what Mark Sanchez's BDR is?
              "Stultum est timere quod vitare non potes." ~ Publilius Syrus


              • #8
                Good read,i appreciate the feedback :thumb:


                • #9
                  Good article....thanks for posting!

                  The combination of players and coaches, and the inherent nature of how some teams gel better than others, gives me a feeling we are part of a perfect wave moving forward....


                  • #10
                    Good article, thanks.

                    I'm daring to dream of us going all the way. Amazing after how far a Superbowl seemed this time a year ago when Manning was just a pipe-dream.
                    Come On You Blues! GO BRONCOS!


                    • #11
                      Interesting read, thanks for sharing.

                      Next week should be telling, can't wait!
                      Adopted Poster
                      AZ Snake Fan


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BroncosDivision View Post
                        Interesting read, thanks for sharing.

                        Next week should be telling, can't wait!
                        If the Pats lose this week and we win next week we have a bye, on the road NE Baltimore and Houston are not easy matchups for us. However, at home NE might be the only team right now that I think can beat us (though Brady has a bad record at a Mile High)
                        2016 Draft:


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by samparnell View Post
                          I wonder what Mark Sanchez's BDR is?
                          About the same as his butt to fumble ratio.