2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Broncos are 9th top seed to stumble since '05

    2013-01-14 04:08

(Updates. With AP Photos.)
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

DENVER (AP) - No one should be surprised that the Super Bowl favorites are already out of the playoffs.

With their 38-35 loss in double-overtime to the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night, the Denver Broncos became the ninth No. 1 seed in the last eight years to go down in the divisional round.

On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons nearly became the 10th before escaping Seattle's upset bid in a 30-28 thriller and becoming just the seventh top seed since 2005 to advance to the conference championship.

``I wouldn't say I'm shocked,'' said Peyton Manning, who also lost as a No. 1 seed with Indianapolis in 2005. ``That's not the right word. I'm disappointed.''

Seeds just don't matter anymore.

``That's playoff football, it's do-or-die,'' Denver linebacker Keith Brooking said. ``There are no makeups, there's no `my bad' on that play. You have a bad day, you go home and you deal with it. You're staring an offseason right in the face with nothing to do, except to think about it.''

The Broncos hadn't lost since Oct. 7, winning each of their last 11 regular season games by an average of two touchdowns.

``I feel like we're the best team,'' receiver Brandon Stokley lamented. ``But, in the NFL, it doesn't matter. It's one game and it's whoever plays better. And they played better.''

The Broncos certainly aren't alone in their heartache.

Among the top seeds to have fallen flat in the first playoff game are a 15-1 team, three 14-2 teams and five 13-3 teams - all at home, coming off a bye and facing an opponent that had to travel following a win on wild-card weekend.

The favorites who faltered were led by some of the greatest quarterbacks of our generation, too. Manning and his brother, Eli, have both won Super Bowls and both have been bounced right out of the playoffs. Same with Aaron Rogers and Tom Brady. Others who made early exits are Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and Kerry Collins.

To paraphrase the late Vince Lombardi, ``What the heck's going on out here?''

``I have no clue,'' Broncos safety Mike Adams said.

Speaking of Lombardi, no top seed has hoisted the Super Bowl trophy that bears his name since the New Orleans Saints did it in 2009 - the last year the No. 1 seeds in both conferences won in the divisional round.

And not since the `03 Patriots has the team with the best regular-season record won it all.

Maybe the solution is to expand the playoffs, which could pit No. 1 seeds against lesser teams in their playoff openers.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hasn't taken a stance on the issue.

``I think it needs to be evaluated carefully,'' he said. ``... It's got to be special to make the playoffs. It's also got to retain its uniqueness and the importance of all those regular-season games. So, it has to be done very carefully - if we do it.''

The possibility of another 7-9 team making the playoffs like the Seahawks did in 2010 isn't necessarily a deterrent to adding teams to the playoff pool, Goodell said.

``I think it's because of the competitive nature of our league that wild card teams have gone on to win the Super Bowl,'' Goodell said. ``And teams that haven't had great records, if you're hot and you get hot in the second half of the season, you can win the Super Bowl. And I think that's what's changed a lot, and that's why I think it's worthy of evaluation.''

Perhaps the quest to secure a first-round bye shouldn't serve as such an imperative for teams anymore because all that R&R so often translates into rust and ruin.

Manning lost his first playoff appearance with the Broncos (13-4), who wasted the home-field advantage they secured throughout the playoffs by failing to pressure Joe Flacco and negating a record-setting performance by kick returner Trindon Holliday.

It wasn't like the Broncos had rested their regulars down the stretch, either. They didn't secure the No. 1 seed until Week 17, so they never took their foot off the gas, something they were sure would help them keep rolling through January.

``I felt like we went about our business the right way and we had good weeks of practice, were ready to play and the game came down to about 12 plays and they made them and we didn't,'' Stokley said.

The Falcons also played their starters to the end but lost their regular-season finale to Tampa Bay, then got all they could handle from the Seahawks before advancing to the NFL title game, where they'll host San Francisco.

That wild win over Seattle included a TD run, a field goal and a desperation heave into the end zone over the final 31 seconds - the exact amount of time that remained when Broncos coach John Fox decided to have Manning take a knee and settle for overtime on a frostbitten night in Denver after Jacoby Jones' stunning 70-yard TD catch over safety Rahim Moore had tied the game at 35.

``You know what? I agreed with it,'' Stokley said, ``just with the conditions, where we were on the field. The wind was kind of blowing in our face a little bit and they were getting after Peyton and in that situation, I agreed with it and I had no problems with that at all.''

Aside from the Saints three years ago, the five other No. 1 seeds since `05 that managed to win their playoff opener all won their conference championship only go on to lose the Super Bowl.

Champ Bailey, a 12-time Pro Bowler still searching for his first Super Bowl ring, knew this was his best chance, calling this his ``best team that didn't do anything. It's frustrating, but that's the reality of it. We got to the playoffs but you have to win in the playoffs for it to mean something. So, it's just another year when we came up short.''

Anymore, the odds are simply stacked against the odds-on Super Bowl favorites.

Yet, they still have a better shot than regular-season champs in other sports.

Since the first Super Bowl, the team with the best regular-season record has won 21 of 46 championships, or 46 percent, which is more than in the NHL (42 percent), NBA (41 percent) and MLB (28 percent), according to STATS.

``There's no doubt in my mind that we'll be back and we'll be bigger, stronger, faster, we'll be hardened and ready to go,'' Broncos star linebacker Von Miller said.

But how far?

Of the eight previous No. 1 seeds to falter in their first playoff game, only one - the Patriots in 2011 - recovered from that heartache to reach the Super Bowl the next season, where they lost to the New York Giants.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Arnie Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Peyton ManningDec 19 07:42p

Updating a previous report, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) was officially limited in practice Friday, Dec. 19, but he threw more than he did than the day prior, [ More ]

Frank GoreDec 19 05:42p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) was limited in practice Friday, Dec. 19, and is questionable for Week 16.

Keenan AllenDec 19 04:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) and WR Keenan Allen (shoulder, ankle) have been ruled out for Week 16 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Cam NewtonDec 19 04:12p

Updating previous reports, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) has yet to officially be cleared to play in Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns, but head coach Ron Rivera [ More ]

T Y HiltonDec 19 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice all week but is questionable for Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Peyton ManningDec 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) was back to a full practice Friday, Dec. 19, after being limited Thursday, Dec. 18. Manning made several strong throws in the portion open to the media.

T Y HiltonDec 19 02:12p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice again Friday, Dec. 19, and RTV6's Mike Chappell is convinced that Hilton will not play in Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.

C.J. SpillerDec 19 12:53p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) has been added to the active roster and is probable for Week 16 against the Oakland Raiders.

Cam NewtonDec 19 12:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) is listed as probable for Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns.

Blake BortlesDec 19 12:12p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (foot) completed only 13 passes for 115 yards in the win over the Tennessee Titans Thursday, Dec. 18, but he didn't show any signs [ More ]

T Y HiltonDec 19 11:52a

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is not participating in the portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

Julio JonesDec 19 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

DeMarco MurrayDec 19 10:52a

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) is likely to play in Week 16, according to a source. Murray has a high threshold for pain, and according to the source, [ More ]

Eddie LacyDec 19 10:12a

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy (eye) said he wasn't able to read a teammate's nameplate a few feet away in the locker room Thursday, Dec. 18. Lacy said [ More ]

Leon WashingtonDec 18 11:32p

Tennessee Titans RB Leon Washington caught a team-high seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown in the team's 21-13 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday, Dec. 18. He [ More ]

Philip RiversDec 18 11:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) looked good throwing the ball in the practice Thursday, Dec. 18, according to head coach Mike McCoy. 'Philip had an outstanding day,' [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) continues through the concussion protocol this week, but head coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates Gore suiting up in Week 16 against the San [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 18 05:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Dec. 18.

Blake BortlesDec 18 04:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has earned positive reviews from the team in his rookie season after being thrust into the spotlight early this year. 'That is not the [ More ]

Jay CutlerDec 18 04:12p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler was benched just for this week against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler will be active and serve as the [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsDec 18 04:02p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (hand) will be fitted cast that he can play with on his injured hand. Williams still has not caught a pass with the injured [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 04:02p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) has not been able to do any running this week, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.

Ryan MathewsDec 18 03:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and appears to be on track to start in Week 16, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

DeMarco MurrayDec 18 02:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand), who was expected to take some team snaps in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, is in no more risk if he plays in Week [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group