Bench Peyton? (10/19/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
Should the Broncos bench Peyton Manning?

Denver enters its bye week 6-0. The Broncos might be perfect but Peyton Manning and the offense are far from it. After a three-pick performance against the Browns, some are questioning whether Manning has what it takes to lead the Broncos to a championship.

Manning has thrown ten interceptions this season, the most through six games since his rookie season. The future Hall of Famer's ineffective play has the Broncos scoring touchdowns on a league-worst 12 percent of their drives. According to Elias, Denver's point differential (+37 points) is the second-worst for a 6-0 team in NFL history.

If Manning doesn't have what it takes, could Brock Osweiler improve the offense?

A year ago that question would have been outrageous. The difference between Manning and his backup was more than 10 points per game before the start of the 2014 season. Manning's declining skill set has shrunk the gap but is benching one of the all-time great quarterbacks really a possibility in Denver?

When we simulated the remainder of the season 50,000 times with Manning under center the offense is projected to average 23.3 points per game. Denver makes the playoffs 96.2 percent of the time and wins the Super Bowl 10.8 percent (4th best behind Patriots, Packers and Bengals).

The difference between Manning and Osweiler is now less than a field goal per game in the simulations. An Osweiler led Broncos offense would score 20.5 points per game. With the wins they have already banked and a great defense, Denver would be 91.8 percent likely to make the playoffs with Osweiler taking the snaps coming out of the Broncos' bye week and 9.6 percent likely to win the Super Bowl (still the 4th best chance of any team).

Will Peyton's play cost Denver eventually? Maybe. Manning isn't the offensive force of the past, but the team doesn't have a better option at quarterback.

Statistics Manning Osweiler
Record 11.9-4.1 11.3-4.7
Points Per Game 23.3 20.5
Make Playoffs 96.2% 91.8%
Win Super Bowl 10.8% 9.6%

What if the Broncos did have a better option at quarterback? We aren't talking Tim Tebow. With that dominant defense, what quarterbacks around the NFL would become favorites to win it all if they were starting in Mile High.

The Broncos would be Super Bowl favorites (above Patriots, Packers and Bengals) right now with these quarterbacks starting:
  • Tom Brady
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Ben Roethlisberger (healthy)
  • Philip Rivers
  • Drew Brees
  • Tony Romo (healthy)

The Broncos would be Top 3 (but not #1, so #2 or #3 – better than where they are with Peyton) in Super Bowl chances with any of these quarterbacks:
  • Andy Dalton
  • Carson Palmer
  • Matt Ryan
  • Russell Wilson
  • Andrew Luck
  • Eli Manning
  • Cam Newton

There are no other current starting or backup quarterbacks in the NFL that would give Denver a better chance of winning the Super Bowl over Peyton Manning.