Super Bowl XLVIII was probably one of the most stunning Super Bowls anyone has ever seen.
Its one thing to lose the Super Bowl, but it’s a totally different story the way the Denver Broncos were beaten. 43-8.
That says enough.
Broncos’ General Manager John Elway made a promise at the end of last season to do whatever it took to make the roster even better than what they had last season.
He stayed true to his word being active in free agency.
He loaded up the defense, especially the secondary, by signing T.J. Ward, Aquib Talib, and Demarcus Ware.
Ware joins an already active front four with guys like Terrance Knighton and Derek Wolfe.
Talib and Ward strengthen the secondary.
Of course, don’t forget about Von Miller leading the line-backing core.
Talk about the speed and tenacity this defense has.
To add to his already electrifying offense, he added Emmanuel Sanders.
These moves quickly sent the message to his team, stating they need to get back to where they were last year and finish this time.
So far, everything has gone according to plan.
The Broncos are one of three teams left in the NFL with one loss at the halfway point of the season.
The offense has greatly benefited from the addition of Sanders.
He has emerged as another top weapon for Peyton Manning, along with the Demaryius and Julius Thomas.
Sanders already has 634 yards receiving and four touchdowns, putting together the best season of his career.
The Broncos’ coaching staff has done a nice job in using him so many different ways, putting him on the outside, in the slot, and using him on jet sweeps and reverses.
Both Thomases continue to dominate, with Demaryius averaging almost 17 yards a catch, and Manning’s connection with Julius has been deadly thus far with nine touchdowns already.
Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball have teamed up to be a solid one two punch in the running game as well.
The offense is third in the league in scoring at 32.5 points per game.
The offense has really poured it on since its only loss of the year in week three at Seattle, averaging 37.3 points per game during the team’s current four game win streak.
But what’s made the difference so far for the Broncos is their ability to stay healthy, especially defensively.
There is a lot of talent on this defense, but most of those guys are also up there in age, and have been injury prone the last few seasons.
One big bite from the injury bug and the entire outlook of this defense, and possibly the entire team, changes.
So far they’ve made it halfway through the year without significant injury.
They are the NFL’s top defense against the run and fourth in total defense.
They’ve also collected 23 sacks this season averaging almost three per game.
The Broncos continue to dominate at home as well, undefeated again this season up to this point.
Once again this season, the Broncos have all the intangibles to get back to where they were last season.
Only this time, they’ll have the ability to finish.
“To be the best, you have to beat the best.”
The Arizona Cardinals definitely fit that moniker this season.
Arizona already has impressive wins against the San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers and just last week versus the Philadelphia Eagles.
At 6-1, the Arizona Cardinals are off to their best start in 40 years.
Dating back to week eight of last season, the Cardinals are 13-3.
Arizona might not always win pretty, but they always find a way to win.
The Cardinals have dealt with a slew of key personnel losses (Tyrann Mathieu, John Abraham, Daryl Washington and Darnell Dockett).
All of these players have all either been suspended or injured or missed timed, and yet Arizona has not missed a beat.
Furthermore, quarterback Carson Palmer has already missed time this year.
hHowever, head coach Bruce Arians has the Cardinals in first place in arguably the toughest division in the NFL.
Arians might be the coach of the year, but that’s a totally different debate for another day.
The Cardinals’ success is not just from one part of the game or from one player, but a myriad of things.
They are second in the league in takeaways and turnovers.
The Cardinals have forced 14 turnovers on defense while only giving the ball away five times all season which is good for a +9 turnover differential, second in the NFL.
Only one of the five turnovers was an interception by Palmer.
Even with Palmer missing time, backup quarterbacks Drew Stanton and Logan Thomas have filled in admirably and won games.
Stanton and Thomas were helped immensely by the play of sure-fire Hall of Fame wide reciever Larry Fitzgerald and rookie John Brown.
But even with the receivers play and the changes at quarterback, the Cardinals offense has relied heavily on the shoulders of running back Andre Ellington.
The second year back out of Clemson has shown no signs of a “sophomore slump.”
Ellington has accounted for nearly 31 percent of Arizona’s total yards from scrimmage this year, which is fifth best in the league.
And when the offense has rarely stalled, Cardinals rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro has come on the field and made all 16 of his field goal tries.
But on the other side of the ball, the Cardinals rush defense has been stout this year ranking third in all of football in both yards per game and yards per rush allowed.
The defense is able to stop the run so well without giving away its intentions pre-snap with well-timed and perfectly excutated blitzes.
Arizona has blitzed opposing teams 47 percent of the time in the last two seasons combine and had much success which has lead to its high turnover numbers.
Arizona’s defense is able to play so well even with the losses on that side of the ball due to the outstanding defensive tandem of Patrick Peterson, Deone Buchanon and Antonio Cromartie.
If the Cardinals can enter December with a winning record, they may find themselves with a first-round bye and a great shot at the Super Bowl when it comes to their home stadium in February.