Oct 5, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorDenver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is in midseason form.
After his 338-yard performance against the Oakland Raiders last Sunday, it's safe to say Manning is still one of the elite quarterbacks in the National Football League.
Things haven't always clicked for Manning and his new wide receiving crew. Manning struggled early in a loss to the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. He came back and had a strong second half to put the Broncos right back in the contest.
The Broncos are sporting a 2-2 record after the first four weeks of the season.
I do like the way Manning has a running game to balance his passing game. Veteran running back Willis McGahee ran for a 112 yards against the Raiders. Denver will need to make sure it has a balanced offense the rest of the season to keep the other teams off track.
Denver has one of the toughest schedules in the league this year. The journey will continue with a pair of difficult road games against New England on Sunday vs. Tom Brady and his teammates.
The Broncos then head to San Diego for a Monday, Oct. 15, game at Qualcomm Stadium.
It looks like the Chargers and Denver will be battling for the AFC West division and a trip to the playoffs.
After a bye week, the schedule gets a little easier with games against the New Orleans Saints (Sunday, Oct. 28),
Cincinnati Bengals (Nov. 4) and the Carolina Panthers (Sunday, Nov. 11).
The Saints have to be the most disappointing team with an 0-4 record. A lot of the experts thought New Orleans had the talent to make a run for a Super Bowl berth.
I'm still not counting the Saints out of the playoffs.
I just like the way quarterback Drew Brees plays and the way he handles himself in pressure-packed situations. He should be able to turn things around and get the Saints going.
I can see Manning putting up big numbers against those teams and the Broncos going 3-0 and staying in the race for the AFC crown.
Fast forward to week 15, and the Broncos have a showdown at the Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, Dec. 16).
I'm thinking the game could be a preview of an AFC playoff game. The Ravens have the talent on offense and defense to make another run for the Super Bowl.
The Ravens are my pick as the best team in the AFC.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco looks like he is ready to be one of the top players in the league.
Baltimore running back Ray Rice still has a lot of rushing yards left in his legs to get linebacker Ray Lewis to the Super Bowl.
At the start of the year, I liked Philadelphia as my Super Bowl pick, but I never said it in in print.
This is the week, I'm saying the Ravens should win the Super Bowl.
The top three teams in the AFC are the Ravens, Houston and the Broncos.
The Texans have the most productive offense in league, and that is going to take them a long ways.
In the NFC, I still like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers.
The Eagles have won three close games to the start the year for a 3-1 record.
But I don't like the way Philadelphia has turned the ball over in the four games. Quarterback Michael Vick needs to fix that problem, or the Eagles won't even make the playoffs.
In the end, the Ravens are the most balanced team in the league, and that is going to take them to the NFL championship.
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