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

Paul RichardsonMar 26 12:43a

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson (knee) might not be ready for the start of the season, head coach Pete Carroll indicated Wednesday, March 25. Carroll did say Richardson's rehab [ More ]

Blake BortlesMar 25 08:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles received an endorsement from head coach Gus Bradley Tuesday, March 24. Speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings Tuesday, Bradley [ More ]

Travis KelceMar 25 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at roughly 250 pounds in 2014, but head coach Andy Reid wants Kelce to report bigger in 2015, and Reid thinks Kelce [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 25 05:03p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota isn't an option for the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, according to head coach Sean Payton. Payton said [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 04:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is wanted back in Minnesota, but the question is if Peterson wants to come back. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't believe Peterson [ More ]

Ifeanyi MomahMar 25 03:13p

Free-agent TE Ifeanyi Momah (Lions) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, March 25. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Terence NewmanMar 25 01:53p

Free-agent CB Terence Newman (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday, March 25, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jordy NelsonMar 25 12:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Victor CruzMar 25 11:53a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) could miss the start of the 2015 season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. [ More ]

Josh HillMar 25 11:03a

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is expected to have a bigger role in the offense in 2015. Head coach Sean Payton has mentioned him quite a bit since [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 10:53a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is disgruntled and reportedly wants out of Minnesota, but head coach Mike Zimmer said the team has no plans to trade him.

Cody LatimerMar 24 09:33p

The Denver Broncos plan to use WR Cody Latimer as the third receiver behind WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2015. 'I think it's time for him to [ More ]

Casey MatthewsMar 24 06:32p

Free-agent LB Casey Matthews (Eagles) agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, March 24. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

R. Griffin IIIMar 24 04:42p

Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said that the team will go with the best player available in the 2015 NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick, which [ More ]

Michael CrabtreeMar 24 03:02p

Free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) is having a hard time being signed this offseason, reportedly due to concerns regarding lower-leg injuries and a negative perception about his attitude.

Ray McDonaldMar 24 02:02p

Free-agent DE Ray McDonald (49ers) is signing an undisclosed deal with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 24.

Stephen BowenMar 24 01:32p

Free-agent DE Stephen Bowen (Redskins) is signing an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Tuesday, March 24.

Geno SmithMar 24 01:22p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback ahead of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick entering training camp this summer, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. 'You [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerMar 24 01:12p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is a realistic option for the Tennessee Titans with the second overall selection in this year's NFL Draft, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt is impressed [ More ]

Jarvis JenkinsMar 24 10:42a

Free-agent DE Jarvis Jenkins (Redskins) agreed with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 24, on a one-year deal.

Johnny ManzielMar 24 08:52a

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel is expected back with the team for offseason workouts April 20 after completing more than two months of treatment.

Adrian PetersonMar 23 07:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's agent, Ben Dogra, said Monday, March 23, that he doesn't think 'it's in Adrian's best interest to play in Minnesota' in 2015 and beyond. [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 23 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is expected to be part of the Vikings next season, according to general manager Rick Spielman. 'Adrian's a member of our football team,' Spielman [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 23 01:22p

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees will not be traded, according to general manager Mickey Loomis. Recent speculation said that Brees may be on the trade block after his [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 23 12:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's preference is to play elsewhere than with the Vikings in 2015, according to a league source. He is under contract through the 2017 season [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 22 08:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's future remains unclear, but head coach Mike Zimmer recently said that the Vikings are 'excited' to have him back. Zimmer had previously said that [ More ]

James HarrisonMar 22 12:42p

Free-agent LB James Harrison (Steelers) signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, March 22. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Branden OliverMar 21 03:52p

San Diego Chargers RB Branden Oliver is penciled in as the starting running back at this point.

EJ ManuelMar 21 12:52a

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel is not locked in as the starting quarterback. Head coach Rex Ryan said Friday, March 20, that the quarterback competition will be open. 'It's [ More ]

Kevin VickersonMar 20 05:52p

Free-agent DT Kevin Vickerson (Chiefs) agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Friday, March 20.

Matt MooreMar 20 04:32p

Free-agent QB Matt Moore (Dolphins) re-signed with the Miami Dolphins Friday, March 20. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Adrian PetersonMar 20 02:42p

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is clearly wanted back by the organization, and general manager Rick Spielman once again stressed that they will make every [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group