The case for Tom Brady as the greatest QB ever
When the Patriots beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI - make mine New England 33, Atlanta 27 - the debate over the greatest quarterback of all time will be over.
His name will be John Elway, of course, since the greatest Bronco went 11-0 against the Patriots and beat the Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. (Just kidding, Patriots fans, you defensive heathens.) Another Patriots Super Bowl parade would make it awfully difficult to name anyone other than Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. as the GOAT.
Brady would own five Super Bowl rings, more than any other quarterback. Handsome Tom will own more playoff wins than all but four NFL franchises (25, a quarterback record) and seven appearances in the Super Bowl (another record).
And he will still own an unparalleled collection of cozy, comfy, winter sweaters. There is really no good way for a diehard Broncos fan to root on Sunday.
If Atlanta wins, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan immediately becomes the one that got away. If New England wins, the most popular debate in sports will be as lopsided as the AFC East. Yes, I'm going to be stubborn about this. I would still take Elway to quarterback my theoretical franchise. He's the best I've seen.
But when Brady wins one for the pinkie Sunday, the debate over greatest is over.
Brady will be the GOAT.
The case for another Broncos weapon
Take a bow, Broncos. You helped the Falcons and Patriots reach Super Bowl LI.
Atlanta and New England playing for the right to take the championship torch off the Broncos' hands exposes one of the biggest problems with their attempt to defend that title in 2016: Once the opponent took away Von Miller and the league's best pass rush, the Broncos were an average-to-below-average team.
Both Atlanta and New England won at Sports Authority Field. The Falcons played "Catch Me If You Can" by leaning on their powerful running game (122 yards) and using their freaky running backs in the passing game (Tevin Coleman had 132 yards receiving by himself).
The Broncos had only two sacks. Meanwhile, the Patriots rode to victory by making sure Tom Brady rarely got hit.
In what should go down as one of the easiest wins in the Broncos-Patriots rivalry, Brady was sacked only twice. It was a devastating performance from New England and another example of how the Patriots adjusted from getting worked over in the 2015 AFC championship game.
New England scored 16 points against Denver. Atlanta scored 23. Each was the fewest points they scored in a win this season, a stat that underscores what everybody already knows: Denver's offense needs to get its act together.
Now the Broncos have only 48 hours to remind the world they remain the defending champs.
The case for Adrian Peterson in Colorado
Super Bowl LII is in Minneapolis. So is a Hall of Fame running back who should have the Broncos' attention if they aspire to play there on Feb. 4, 2017.
Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson would look pretty good in orange, don't you think?
John Elway and the Broncos can't risk going into the 2017 season with the same issues that have plagued the offensive line for the past two seasons, so this is operating under the assumption the Broncos will address the offensive line in free agency or the draft (or both).
There is one type of player who would improve the offensive line as soon as he steps off a plane at DIA: one whose career includes 11,747 rushing yards, 97 touchdowns, seven Pro Bowl appearances and an MVP award to top it all off.
The thinking goes that Minnesota will look to restructure Peterson's contract, which has him making $11.5 million in 2017.
If they can't reach an agreement, he would be a free agent.
The Broncos should be one of the teams tossing their cowboy hat into the ring. Not only would a stronger running game take the pressure off Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, it would extend the life of a Broncos defense that had to play 67.2 snaps per game, second-most in the NFL. Peterson was suspended for the 2014 season after he was charged with child abuse.
By standing by Aqib Talib through run-in after run-in, the Broncos have shown if you can play, you can play in Denver. Peterson is 32.
One year after winning Super Bowl 50 with a 30-something future Hall of Famer in their backfield, they could do it again with Adrian Peterson.