Sports: Dead Ducks

February 4 2014, 9:45 AM

Duuuuuuuuuuuuudes. That. Was. BRUTAL.

No need to recap Sunday night's festivities beatdown. Let's just say that my pre-Super Bowl prediction would've been more accurately called a wish list. The only things I got right were that the weather wouldn't be a factor, and that Demaryius Thomas would be the Broncos' MVP—an honor that on this day made him about the 25th-most valuable performer on the field, behind the entire Seahawks' offense and defense, Bruno Mars, and the world-class opera singer who belted out the Star-Spangled Banner.

With the 43-8 defeat, the Broncos now own three of the five worst losses in Super Bowl history, and older fans must have been experiencing PTSD-type flashbacks to the Broncos' dismal Big Game run in the late-80s and early-90s.

Now, despite making an often magical run through the 2013 season, the Broncos have joined 30 other teams in wondering what went wrong and figuring out how they can fix it by September.

The most important phase of the team's offseason will of course be Peyton Manning's doctor's appointment in March. That's when he'll undergo the physical exam that will ratify another year on his contract.

Although Manning was knocked around more than usual on Sunday, it seems that only a previously unknown issue with his neck would sideline him in 2014. Absent that, he'll be back again next year. (Unfortunately, the most recent parallel to Manning's 2013 is Brett Favre's 2009. That's when the 40-year-old had his best year ever before flaming out in the NFC Championship Game. After an injury-plagued following season, he was done.)

Even if Manning returns as strong as ever, the Broncos have numerous issues to address this spring and summer, from free agent choices (Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno, and others) to rebuilding what by Sunday was a patchwork defensive unit. But given the relative dip the AFC is currently enduring, there's no reason to think the Broncos can't challenge for another conference title.

However, even if they can get back to the Super Bowl, the 2014 NFL schedule has them visiting the Seahawks, possibly as early as week one. So if the Broncos want to hoist another Lombardi trophy, they might have to exact revenge on the budding Seattle juggernaut not once, but twice.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.