This team reminds many of the 1997 Denver Broncos. Both teams went undefeated at home, but struggled on the road going 4-4. Just like in ’97, the Broncos have injuries on defense, a young offense with an emerging running back, and a Hall of Fame quarterback, and both were not favorites to get to the Super Bowl.

Granted, this Broncos team was able to win their division and get a first-round bye, something the 1997 Broncos were unable to do. The situations feel similar though. Time is running out to get Peyton Manning another championship, which was the same feeling in ’97. Everybody was trying to get John Elway that ring and they ultimately got the prize. Hopefully things work out the same.

After last Monday night’s horrible performance against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Broncos were able to bounce back with some much needed confidence heading into the playoffs, by trouncing their AFC West rival Oakland Raiders 47-14. It was the seventh straight win over the Raiders, also earning the Broncos a first-round bye and a chance to heal and get injured players back on the field.

The offense was led by running back C.J. Anderson, who rushed for 87 yards on 13 carries, and tallied three touchdowns for the second time this season. There was also one touchdown pass thrown in the game by the Broncos — and it wasn’t by Manning. Backup Brock Osweiler came into the game with less than five minutes to go in the game, and hit tight end Virgil Green for a 1-yard touchdown pass. It was Green’s first touchdown catch as well, who actually kept the scoring football not giving it to Osweiler.

For the second time this season Manning didn’t throw a touchdown pass, going 21-of-37, for 273 yards, but he didn’t need to, as the Broncos ground game with Anderson, four field goals by Connor Barth and the Broncos defense did the scoring. The Broncos scored defensively on a fumble recovery by Tony Carter who took it to the house. Even the kick returning was good, as Omar Bolden took a long return deep into Oakland territory.

“When you get all three phases of the game playing like we did today, we can be a dangerous team to stop,” said Anderson.

Receiver Demaryius Thomas topped Rod Smith’s 1,602 receiving yard total in 2000 for the most in franchise history when he caught eight passes for 115 yards, giving him 1,619 yards on the season. Thomas left the game in the fourth quarter when he injured his right finger. Thankfully, x-rays were negative.

With the Broncos clinching the first-round bye, and the second seed, they will play either Cincinnati, Indianapolis or Pittsburgh on January 11th, in Denver. The Broncos also were able to get their sixth undefeated home mark in franchise history.

Manning finished second in passing touchdowns with 39, to Andrew Luck who had 40. Manning would have gotten 40, but a dropped touchdown pass by Demaryius Thomas kept him behind Luck…..Safety David Bruton was rushed to the hospital after he suffered a severe concussion on a block in the back by Raiders defensive lineman Denico Autry. Still no word on his condition and if we will be out for an extended amount of time….

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