Posted November 07, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Peyton Manning has made all the offseason speculation surrounding whether he'd ever return to his MVP-form a distant memory.
Manning looks to direct the AFC West-leading Denver Broncos to a fourth straight win when they visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
After missing the entire 2011 season due to several neck surgeries, Manning is putting together an MVP-caliber season for the Broncos (5-3).
"In his case, every time he goes out there, he's got a chance to do something special,'' said John Fox, who'll be facing the team he coached from 2002-10 for the first time.
The four-time league MVP came up nine yards short of his sixth consecutive 300-yard passing game when he went 27 of 35 with three touchdowns and two interceptions in last Sunday's 31-23 win in Cincinnati.
For the first time since 2004, Manning has thrown three touchdown passes in five straight contests, and if he can get two more Sunday, he'll surpass Dan Marino's total of 420 for second most in NFL history.
The 14-year veteran leads the NFL with a career-best 69.5 completion percentage and a 108.6 quarterback rating, and is on pace to throw 40 touchdowns.
As a result, Denver's receiver tandem of Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas has shined. Decker has caught seven touchdown passes in his last five games, while Thomas ranks fourth in the NFL in receiving yards per game at 94.5.
"I can't emphasize enough what (Manning) means to all those guys," Fox said.
Although they've averaged 31.6 points over a 4-1 stretch, the Broncos could have trouble against a Carolina defense that has allowed one passing touchdown or less in seven of eight games.
The Panthers (2-6) have surrendered an average of 212.3 passing yards over their last four games, and haven't given up a 300-yard passing game since Matt Ryan put up 369 in a Falcons' win on Sept. 30.
"We've settled in defensively,'' Carolina coach Ron Rivera insisted. "We've found our intensity."
Denver's Willis McGahee looks for a bounce-back performance after managing 66 yards on 23 carries for a season-low 2.9 yards per attempt against the Bengals. He could find some room against a Carolina team that gave up 151 yards on the ground in last Sunday's 21-13 win over Washington.
The Panthers, who have the worst record in the NFC, hope to carry some momentum from last week's victory after finally closing out an opponent. Carolina led in the fourth quarter in three of its previous four games but wound up losing.
Cam Newton completed 13 of 23 passes for 201 yards against the Redskins and showed flashes of his sensational play from his rookie season by throwing for one touchdown and running in another to help his team break a five-game skid. He didn't turn the ball over for just the second time this season, and the Panthers improved to 7-1 when he doesn't have one. They're 1-15 when he has at least one turnover.
"Winning solves a lot of problems, and losing puts you under a microscope,'' receiver Steve Smith said.
Smith, who hauled in his first touchdown catch of the season last week, and the rest of the Carolina receivers face a tough test against the Broncos' stingy secondary.
Denver cornerbacks Chris Harris and Tony Carter have allowed just 23 completions in 59 attempts on the season. Carter is allowing a league-low completion percentage of just 28 (7 receptions in 25 attempts) among cornerbacks who have been targeted at least 15 times.
"We haven't had young corners play like this in a long time,'' said Champ Bailey, another one of the team's top corners. "You might get one here, one there. But two like this, it's hard to find that.''
The Broncos haven't faced the Panthers since a 30-10 loss in 2008, their only defeat in three meetings.
BEST OF MAXIM
As anyone who has watched any amount of television over the past few weeks knows, Peyton Manning appeared in a commercial for Papa John’s in which he creepily calls the pizza chain’s owner “Papa” instead of John for some reason, and attempts to get him to give away two million free pizzas. What you may not know, however, is that Manning has gotten into the pizza business...
Want more evidence of Peyton Manning’s superior intellect and business acumen hidden beneath that awe-shucks hillbilly exterior?
@darrenrovell: A week before Colorado legalizes marijuana, Manning acquires 21 Papa John’s franchises in the state. Guy can do no wrong.
It was early November in Cincinnati. The Broncos quarterback dropped back to pass, found a receiver open for a 30-yard gain.
Four plays later, Denver scored the winning touchdown and John Elway, in his 16th and final season, had the 39th game-winning drive of the 40 he would engineer in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Fast forward 15 years to another November day in Cincinnati...
Will the Arkansas economy improve with the next Arkansas football coach hire? That might sound crazy, but Peyton Manning has apparently helped the economy in Denver.
Well at least the Bengals were competitive in this one. For a while there it didn’t look great. After the 105 yard kickoff return to start the second half you start to wonder if this team will EVER get it together. Then they reel off 14 points to take the lead. Peyton Manning and the Broncos were on the ropes! This was their chance, and they let it slip away. Also, don’t forget...
Before the first NFL game kicked off in 2012 everything was sliced, diced and broken down for us by all the experts who raised questions and made predictions as well. Right now entering week 10 of the NFL season, many questions have been answered, some predictions have come true but currently, these three players not only exceeded expectations, they are leaders in their respective...
LAST WEEK: 9-4
SEASON: 85-46 (65%)
The Colts lost to the Jags already, but this seems like a much better team now. This is a game they need to win to be in the playoff hunt.
Eli Manning has had a really rough stretch, but the Bengals secondary is just what he needs to rebound. Expect some big numbers coming from this offense.
Last week: 5 (+0)
The Broncos sit at 5-3 and rank 2nd in yards per play differential and 9th in rate of sustaining drives differential with momentum on their side and they’ve done this despite one of the toughest schedules in the league thus far. From this point on, they have one of the league’s easiest schedules, with games against Tampa Bay, Carolina, San Diego...
Last week: 9 (+2)
If the playoffs were to start today, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts would travel to the Denver Broncos to play Peyton Manning, who through 8 games, has exactly the same amount of passing yards as his replacement Luck, 2404. The Colts are 4-1 in their last 5, since Chuck Pagano had to leave the team to undergo treatment for Leukemia, with that...