2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Column: Broncos have no reason to apologize

    2013-10-13 20:44

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By TIM DAHLBERG
AP Sports Columnist

Jacksonville was never going to be too much of a problem, except for those who love favorites and bet on the Denver Broncos against the biggest underdog in NFL history.

The bookies in Vegas were always a bit uncomfortable about the 27-point spread, though even they wouldn't have given odds that the Broncos would be reduced to pulling off a fake punt in the third quarter to get separation from a team that was supposed to have been blown off the field by halftime.

The problem with expectations is that they sometimes get too high to meet, even if you're Peyton Manning and seemingly can do no wrong. On Sunday, he did a lot wrong, fumbling twice and throwing a pick-6 that helped the winless Jaguars remain competitive even if they were never in any danger of actually winning.

The end result was a 35-19 victory that satisfied neither Denver's fans nor the bettors who have profited so far this year on the Broncos' bandwagon. It should also give pause to those so caught up in Manning's big start that they were beginning to look deep into the schedule to see what teams might be in the way of an undefeated season.

They don't need to look far. The Broncos travel to Indianapolis next weekend to face Manning's old team in a game that will tell us a lot more about Denver than anything that happened Sunday in Denver.

``People tell me it looks easy. There's nothing about it that's easy,'' Denver coach John Fox said. ``There is resistance out there. It's called the other team.''

The bookies still expect Denver to win, making the Broncos a 5 1/2-point favorite against the Colts. They should also be favored in all their remaining games, especially with Von Miller, the key to their defense, coming back off suspension against Indy.

But the odds are they're not going to run the table. There will be times when they struggle, even if their fans have such high expectations that some actually booed the Broncos as they left the field with a 14-12 halftime lead.

``We've got high expectations, too,'' receiver Wes Welker said about the boos. ``We understand it. We almost appreciate it. We've got to get into gear.''

Indeed, the Broncos are victims somewhat of a remarkable start in which they averaged 46 points a game and topped 50 points their last two games before Sunday. The fact that they had to apologize for beating a fellow NFL team by more than two touchdowns was almost laughable, though apologize they did.

``It was good enough today but it's not good enough to win games down the road,'' said Knowshon Moreno, who had three second-half touchdown runs.

It won't be good enough to win at Indianapolis, that's for sure. Manning's return to the city he once owned will be the story line, but the Colts are a surprisingly good team with wins over the Seahawks and 49ers this season.

But while the Broncos were far from impressive against the Jags, it's hard to fault a team for scoring 35 points and winning by 16. They may have set the bar too high, but coming off a tremendous shootout against Dallas last week and with Indianapolis up next, this was a game where they didn't have to be razor sharp.

Don't forget, too, that while the Broncos are favored to win the Super Bowl, this was the Super Bowl for Jacksonville.

Yes, they may have been a tad overconfident against the hapless Jags. But it's a good bet they won't make the same mistake when it really counts.

``Three turnovers was tough and then had some things that just didn't execute as well,'' Manning said. ``But some good things as well that we can learn from.''

Manning called the win a good one over a team that isn't as bad as everyone thought. He said all the talk about the huge point spread motivated Jacksonville, and that he and his teammates didn't execute well most of the game.

The Broncos have gone an entire year without losing a regular-season game, dating to Oct. 7, 2012. That the streak could end at any time is something Manning understands better than most.

``It's not that easy to win football games,'' he said. ``I learned early to never take winning for granted.''

Not in the NFL. Not even against Jacksonville.

A win is a win, and Manning and the Broncos have nothing to apologize about.

----

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

Dennis KellyDec 20 03:32p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, WR Jeff Maehl, S Jerome Couplin III, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, DE Taylor Hart, LB Trent Cole inactive for Week 16.

Leonard HankersonDec 20 03:12p

The Washington Redskins have declared CB Chibuikem Okoro, LB Gabe Miller, DL Jason Hatcher, OG Josh LeRibeus, LB Keenan Robinson, WR Leonard Hankerson inactive for Week 16.

Roy HeluDec 20 03:02p

Washington Redskins RB Roy Helu (toe) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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.

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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

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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

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T Y HiltonDec 19 11:52a

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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

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Eddie LacyDec 19 10:12a

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Philip RiversDec 18 11:22p

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Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

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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.

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Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

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Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

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

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

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