Published: Dec. 25, 2012 at 03:42 p.m.
Updated: Dec. 26, 2012 at 05:23 p.m.

Why the Denver Broncos are Super Bowl favorites

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This week's Power Poll has yet another new No. 1: The Denver Broncos (for once, my poll entry agrees). The Broncos' steady climb up the poll matters a lot less than the team's positioning in the AFC.

Following the New England Patriots' loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Broncos are all but assured of a playoff bye. If the Houston Texans lose this week to the Indianapolis Colts, the Broncos should climb all the way up to No. 1. Denver plays host to the Kansas City Chiefs this week -- that's not a recipe for ending a ten-game winning streak.

No matter what seed the Broncos end up with, I'm comfortable calling them the slight AFC favorites to go to the Super Bowl. It's simple math, really. The Texans aren't playing well, steamrolled in two of their last three games. They should be seen as underdogs to the Broncos and the Patriots because of quarterback play, among other factors.

That leaves the Broncos and Patriots as the two most likely AFC representatives for the Super Bowl. If New England is going to make it to New Orleans, the Patriots probably are going to have to win in Denver -- advantage Broncos.

It wasn't so long ago the Broncos were 2-3 and trailing by 24 points at halftime against the San Diego Chargers. Now Peyton Manning is in position to put the Broncos back in the Super Bowl.

You can view my entire poll right here. San Francisco didn't fall that far. The combined Power Poll is right here.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.
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