The last time the Denver Broncos won eight straight games, they raised the Lombardi Trophy, the second and last of John Elway's illustrious career.
If these Broncos can continue to click on all cylinders, Peyton Manning will add a second Super Bowl to his legendary resume.
Denver defeated the Oakland Raiders 26-13 to notch their eighth straight victory, their longest winning streak since 1998. Denver (10-3) now owns a half game lead over the Patriots & Ravens for the final coveted first round bye, while the Raiders (3-10) continue to plummet in their already guaranteed losing season.
The MVP & Comeback Player of the Year candidate did his part this week, throwing for 310 yards on 72 percent passing. Manning also tossed his 30th touchdown of the season, his seventh season with 30+ touchdown passes. He trails only Brett Farve (nine seasons of 30+ touchdown passes) in that category. Peyton continues his quest for a record-breaking fifth MVP & more importantly, a second Super Bowl ring that would tie him with younger brother Eli.
The Broncos put up points on their first three possessions while the Raiders struggled for mount successful drives for a majority of the game. Denver controlled the clock, holding the ball for 15 more minutes than their black & silver counterparts. Oakland brought the game to within six before halftime but the Broncos never looked back as Manning led his team up & down the field while the defense stifled Carson Palmer and the Raiders' offense.
The Broncos' playoff push continues next week with a potential postseason preview against the Ravens in Baltimore. Meanwhile, the Raiders will play host to the Kansas City Chiefs.
There were a lot of positives & negatives to take away from both teams, but there can only be one Hero and one Zero of the game:
Hero: Head Coach Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders
One thing that can't be overlooked in light of the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide tragedy earlier this week is that life off the field is much more important than what takes place on it. Raiders head coach Dennis Allen had the excruciating discomfort of taking his father Grady off life support earlier this week. "I took my father off life support, and that's not easy to do," Allen said. "So was it hard? Yeah, it was hard. But I know my father would want me to be here with this football team, and I wanted to be here with this football team. So I'm sure you guys can imagine it wasn't an easy situation." My immediate prayers go out to the Allen family. It takes a brave & passionate man to take the field days after the passing of his father, and for that, coach Allen gets this week's Hero's honors.
Zero: Oakland Raiders Offense & Defense
While Oakland's offense totaled 324 yards & their defense wasn't as bad as it's been in recent weeks, this Zero induction stems from the Raiders' lack of discipline on both sides of the ball. Oakland was penalized 11 times Thursday night, with five occurring on offense while the other six happened on defense. Almost every penalty cost them their possession or a chance to get the ball back and ultimately, a chance to steal one at home against the Broncos.