Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak announced Thursday that Peyton Manning will start Denver’s playoff-opener on Jan. 17.
Manning, who replaced Brock Osweiler in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the Chargers, rallied Denver from a 13-7 deficit to a 27-20 victory. It was Manning’s first action since exiting Denver’s Week 10 loss to the Chiefs with a torn plantar fascia, a game in which Manning had five completions and four interceptions.
Manning finished 5-of-9 for 69 yards against the Chargers.
So, is Kubiak making the right call for the postseason? Time will tell, but if Sunday’s result was any indication, it sure seems like he is.
“Well, all he had to do is look at the players’ reaction for Manning after that game last week, and you saw they were very happy and they rallied around Peyton,” CBS NFL broadcaster Dan Fouts said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think Kubiak sensed the team needed a jump, and they got it from Manning against the Chargers. So going forward it’s all about winning and giving yourself the best chance to win. I think the Broncos feel comfortable now with Osweiler coming off the bench. If they need that, bring him off the bench. This is not a situation that’s normal for Manning, obviously, but he did play fairly well against the Chargers, and he got the W, which is the most important thing.”
Indeed, as many players have learned, there’s a big difference between the regular season and the playoffs. Osweiler has performed solidly at times this year, leading Denver to wins over the Bears, Patriots, Chargers and Bengals. But he also struggled at times, as Denver was held scoreless in the second half three times in the month of December.
Thus, while talent matters, so does experience.
“There’s no question,” Fouts said, “and who has more playoff experience than Peyton Manning? Obviously it’s not Brock Osweiler. Probably only Tom Brady has more. So obviously for Kubiak and for John Elway, they want to win, they want to win now, they want to win the Super Bowl, and they feel that Manning gives them the best chance.”