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Is he the same caliber of quarterback as in the past? No. Age (39) and a series of neck injuries have left Manning a physical shell of what he once was.

But is he still good enough to win a Super Bowl if surrounded by a quality supporting cast and dominating defense? I'm not going to doubt him after watching Denver improve to 6-0 following a 26-23, overtime road win over Cleveland.

In what is unfolding as one of his least productive seasons statistically, it was easy to count Manning out again Sunday after his struggles through the first 3 1/2 quarters. Running back Ronnie Hillman couldn't snare a Manning pass that was thrown slightly behind him, leading to Karlos Dansby's interception and 35-yard return for a touchdown that gave Cleveland a 20-16 lead with 8:07 remaining.

At that point, it didn't seem so preposterous at all that last week a Broncos media member asked coach Gary Kubiak whether unproven backup Brock Osweiler should replace Manning.

Manning's unit had gone 26 straight series without posting a touchdown. The defense and special teams have actually scored more points this season than the offense.

Although there are other failings in Denver -- an inconsistent running game, injuries that have hit an already shaky offensive line and a new scheme that has yet to click --€“ Manning had become the lightning rod for almost all criticism. CBS analyst Dan Fouts, who is a Hall of Fame quarterback himself, said the lack of velocity on Manning's passes was akin to watching a "dying quail."

Manning, though, immediately proved his arm isn't quite dead yet. On his very next snap, Manning delivered a perfect pass that wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders caught in stride down the Browns sideline for a 75-yard touchdown to put Denver on top once again.

The rest of the game featured both good Peyton and bad Peyton. The bad included a lob in overtime that linebacker Barkevious Mingo intercepted to give Cleveland possession at the Broncos 39-yard line.

The good came after Denver's defense forced a Browns punt. Manning completed all four of his passes on the ensuing drive. Three consecutive completions on short tosses to tight end Owen Daniels and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas netted 33 yards and moved the Broncos into Cleveland territory. Denver's rushing attack then came to life, putting the Broncos in position for Brandon McManus' 34-yard field goal to win the game.

As ugly as Manning and the offense has played at times, the Broncos are running away with the AFC West once again and are putting themselves in position to claim home-field advantage during the playoffs. The Broncos can help their cause in that regard by winning home games against two other undefeated AFC squads in New England (Nov. 29/Week 12) and Cincinnati (Dec. 28/Week 16).

Ideally for the Broncos by then, Denver will be healthier and have successfully used next week's bye to tinker with the parts of Kubiak's West Coast-style system that aren't paying dividends with Manning at quarterback.

The Broncos still probably won't be an offensive juggernaut. The reality is this club will be carried by its defense and probably win more games in gritty fashion than when Manning was orchestrating the most prolific passing offense in NFL history two seasons ago.

"We are not playing well at times," Manning said in his postgame interview. "But we are playing well enough to win."

That's what matters the most even if Manning isn't winning style points in the twilight of his career.