Patriots

The Pros And Cons Of Broncos Winning Super Bowl, From A Patriots Perspective

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Peyton Manning (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Peyton Manning (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — Yesterday, we examined the pros and cons of a potential Seahawks Super Bowl victory from a Patriots fan perspective (you can read them here). Today, we’ll do the same for the Denver Broncos.

Admittedly, there are only so many positives a fanbase can take from watching another team win the Super Bowl. But when life hands you lemons, sometimes you need to make limoncello. Let’s do it.

Pros

You’ll Know The Patriots Lost To The Best
Losing stinks, but there’s absolutely no shame in losing to the team that eventually wins the Super Bowl. That might be something that’s getting old for the Patriots, whose season ended at the hands of the champs in 2006 (Colts), 2007 (Giants), 2011 (Giants) and 2012 (Ravens). But that sort of speaks to the strength of the Patriots, where it takes a pretty darn good team to eliminate them.

It would also add some context to the Super Bowl drought — if you want to call it that — the Patriots have endured since 2004. A Broncos win on Sunday would mean that of the Patriots’ eight playoff appearances since ’05, five ended with losses to the Super Bowl-winning team. That might make things a little easier to swallow, no?

Wes Welker Is The Man
I was going to put Wes Welker in the “gray area” category, but you know what? If you can’t root for Wes, I don’t know who you can root for. Wes put himself in harm’s way time and time and time again for the Patriots, taking an absolute beating over the middle of the field while being noticeably undersized and grossly underpaid for his six seasons with the Patriots (his one year making top dollar doesn’t make up for the other five years, when he led the league in receptions and was paid like a relative peasant). He was the epitome of a football player, and he still is. He is the man.

He is remembered, somewhat unfairly, for his drops as much as his receptions, as his drop in Super Bowl XLVI pretty much cost the Patriots a championship, and his drop in last year’s AFC Championship Game hurt them as well. But in those two games, Welker caught 15 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. It is pretty hard to kill him for a couple of drops when he’s producing like that.

Some fans in New England may not be massive fans of Welker right now, as they think the receiver bolted via free agency and wanted out. I contend that Welker didn’t want to go anywhere, but Bill Belichick let his personal feelings toward Welker affect the team’s offer last offseason. That much was all but confirmed last week, when Belichick showed he is still sore about Welker’s hit on Aqib Talib in the AFC Championship Game. But what Bill is perhaps most upset about is the fact that he let Welker go. The hit was fine — it was at worst a 10-yard penalty for pass interference, but it was shoulder-to-shoulder contact in an NFL playoff game — and if Welker did that in a Patriots uniform, he’d be praised here.

So, even if you don’t want to see the Broncos win, root for Wes. He’s earned it.

Patriots’ Legacy Enhanced By Another Peyton Manning Super Bowl
This one’s a little bit convoluted, but hear me out.

The Patriots’ dynasty was great, and it really doesn’t need to be enhanced. Yet if Peyton Manning wins a second Super Bowl, does that not make the Patriots teams of 2003 and 2004 look even better for limiting him to 14 points and three points, respectively, in back-to-back postseason meetings. Going through two-time champion Manning to win a pair of Super Bowls looks better historically than going through perennial postseason choker Manning, doesn’t it?

Cons

The Obvious: Peyton Manning
We live in a world where quarterbacks are compared to each other, even though they don’t ever actually play against each other, and even though it takes much more than one man to win a Super Bowl. But we can’t change the culture, and sometimes things need to be kept in simplest terms. Tom Brady has three Super Bowls, and Peyton Manning has one. Forget the fact that Brady threw exactly one touchdown during his first playoff run, and ignore the stats that show Manning threw three touchdowns and seven interceptions in his only Super Bowl-winning postseason. It’s three to one.

So if you love the Patriots and therefore love TB12, you’re hoping it stays that way. Manning already broke Brady’s record for most touchdowns in a single season (he obliterated the record, to be more precise), so Manning throwing a pair of back-breaking interceptions would at least add to the narrative that Peyton is the best regular-season quarterback of all time. That’s a title that’s always good for a chuckle.

Manning Overload
The pain for Patriots fans extends beyond just Peyton, as another championship for him would mean a Manning will have won four of the last eight Super Bowls. I don’t care who you are — that’s just too much Manning.

You don’t want to see the TV shot of the luxury box full of Mannings hopping up and down and celebrating. We’ve seen enough of that, people.

Welker … Again
OK, fine. I’ll admit that not everyone agrees with my prior sentiments about Mr. Welker. I understand that many in New England are going to be loyal to the head coach and to the owner, and they’re going to believe Robert Kraft when he said the team did everything it could to sign Welker. And even those who don’t might take Bill Belichick’s side in whatever kind of spat he had with Welker, and there are still more folks who remain convinced that Welker turned his back on the Patriots and ran away as fast as he could.

Regardless of what it is, the sight of Welker winning the Super Bowl immediately after the Patriots cut ties with him might be too much for some in these parts to handle.

The Sting Of Not ‘Loading Up’ Burns Stronger
When the Broncos signed Peyton Manning two years ago, they made it clear that they were not messing around. They surrounded him with solid receiving options, and when they fell short of the Super Bowl, they added the best possession receiver in the game (Welker). All that did was set them up to set records as the most explosive and powerful offense in the history of the league, with Manning setting the single-season touchdown record in Week 16, and he added four more before halftime of Week 17.

Meanwhile, the Patriots entered the season with an incarcerated tight end, a broken tight end, a zombie-film-acting wide receiver, and three rookie receivers, one of which was not drafted. The results were, as you could imagine, not spectacular. Tom Brady’s completion percentage dropped 2.5 points to 60.5, his lowest mark in a decade. He threw just 25 touchdowns, his fewest since ’06, when he was also working with a makeshift receiving corps. And the big-name acquisition at receiver was Danny Amendola, who caught 54 passes for 633 yards and two touchdowns. That’s not particularly exceptional.

So as much as it hurt for Patriots fans to see a year of Brady’s career go by without the quarterback having the best chance to succeed, it’ll hurt doubly to see the Broncos soak in success after “loading up.” Of course, it may inspire Belichick and Co. to do the same in the upcoming offseason, but that can’t change what happened in the 2013 season.

Check out the pros and cons of a Seahawks victory, from a New England perspective, by clicking here.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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