Where would the Denver Broncos be without Peyton Manning?

Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports

Let’s pretend that Peyton Manning never came to the Denver Broncos. Let’s pretend he chose the Tennessee Titans, the San Francisco 49ers or, hard to think, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Where would the Broncos be now?

The team certainly wouldn’t be Super Bowl runners-up. Or playoff contenders, for that matter.

We probably would have kept watching Tim Tebow run around another year and had another wild ride of a season with him. It’s unclear whether Tebow would have continued his fourth quarter magic the next season. With Tebow, the Broncos could have continued going to the playoffs, but it is extremely unlikely he could have led the team to the Super Bowl.

During the 2011 season, despite taking the team to the playoffs, Tebow ranked 28th in passer rating, completing an NFL-worst 46.5 percent of his passes.

Tebow will never be a top-tier quarterback. He will never be Peyton Manning.

If Denver cut Tebow after the 2012 season, would Osweiler have taken the helm at quarterback? He has a bright future and can learn from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

He has great potential, but he’s not ready to start yet. Just like Tebow, he wouldn’t be able to lead the team to the Super Bowl. At least not yet.

Also, if the Broncos cut Tebow after the 2012 season, the team might have drafted a quarterback in the early rounds of the 2013 draft — arguably one of the weakest draft classes in recent memory.

The team did draft Zac Dysert from Miami of Ohio in the seventh round, but they likely would have had to choose a quarterback in an earlier round. Quarterbacks such as E.J. Manuel from Florida State, Geno Smith from West Virginia or Matt Barkley from USC were all drafted and have all been mediocre at best professionally.

Without Manning, the Broncos would have mediocre, forgettable seasons with mediocre, forgettable quarterbacks.

Manning isn’t the only strong talent of the Broncos, but he makes an already talented squad look even better. Without Manning, Denver would have had some success, but only one of the best quarterbacks in history can lead the number one offense in history.

The Broncos’ talented wide receivers put up the numbers they did last season because of Manning’s accuracy. They never could have done that with Tebow or another average quarterback.

Although Denver lost the Super Bowl, at least they made it that far. The Broncos were the top of the AFC, and likely couldn’t have done that with other quarterbacks.

In fact, losing the Super Bowl by so much could have been a blessing in disguise. It created a thirst and motivation in the team like no other. This offseason, the Broncos are arguably the most driven team. This team truly cares and is working hard to finally reach its goal of a Super Bowl championship. Luckily, this can all be done with Manning.

It’s hard to imagine the Broncos right now without Peyton Manning, and fortunately we don’t have to. We can all breathe easy knowing that he did indeed choose the Broncos.

We’re lucky Manning has a few more shots to reach perfection and finally get the Broncos their first Super Bowl ring in this millennium.

And if this past week is any indication, Manning and the rest of the Broncos aren’t playing for an AFC championship ring — they’re playing for the NFL championship.

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