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Peyton Manning's arrival allowed the Denver Broncos to do a complete makeover

  • 71100f6d5cc98000250f6a7067004f8b.jpg

    ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 5-6 - FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2012, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning runs onto the field lined with member of the United States Army during Salute to Service month before playing the San Diego Chargers in an NFL football game in Denver. Over the past two decades, Manning has redefined the concept of how much a quarterback should study and how. It's the key explanation for how, at 36 and playing with a surgically repaired neck, he still looks very much the way he did in his prime. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)The Associated Press

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    ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 5-6 - FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2012, file photo, Denver Broncos head coach John Fox, left, pats quarterback Peyton Manning on the shoulder as he comes off the field in the first quarter of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. Over the past two decades, Manning has redefined the concept of how much a quarterback should study and how. It's the key explanation for how, at 36 and playing with a surgically repaired neck, he still looks very much the way he did in his prime. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File0The Associated Press

John Elway insisted that every one of the Denver Broncos was better the second Peyton Manning put his signature on that nearly $100 million contract last spring.

Indeed, all have prospered from the arrival of the meticulous quarterback whose work ethic generated, as coach John Fox also predicted, a lifting of all boats.

While Manning was turning what began as a season of mystery into one of magnificence, several of his teammates enjoyed breakout or bounce-back years as the Broncos (13-3) roared into the playoffs as the AFC's top seed and winners of 11 straight.

Not since Elway was leading comebacks on the football field instead of from the front office have the Broncos been the odds-on favorites to win it all.

They have Manning to thank for that.