By Ray Hamill
Broncos fans will be feeling a little nervous Monday morning.
On Sunday afternoon, they were reminded of the fragile nature of their Super Bowl ambitions, when quarterback Peyton Manning took some hard knocks from the Chargers defense, including one big hit to his knee late in the game, and he will undergo an MRI Monday to determine the extent of the damage.
Whether Manning misses any time remains to be seen, but his importance to the team cannot be understated.
Make no mistake about it, the success of this team hinges squarely on his health. If Manning goes down with a serious injury, the Broncos can kiss their Super Bowl ambitions goodbye.
Every team needs strong quarterback play to succeed, but there are a handful of teams (see Patriots, Saints, Colts, Broncos) who rely so heavily on that one position they would immediately go from contenders to mid-level pretenders (at best) if any of them were to lose their starter.
The Broncos are clearly in win-now mode, having last year won the race to sign Manning – in the twilight of his legendary Hall of Fame career – a move that immediately elevated them to the level of Super Bowl contenders.
Having an elite quarterback is a priceless commodity for an NFL team, such is the lack of real quality at the most difficult position in all of sports.
The problem is it also leaves them vulnerable if that star QB suffers an injury, and that will have Broncos fans living nervously as they wait on the news of Monday’s MRI.