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Denver Broncos show they're AFC's biggest wild card

The Denver Broncos' domination of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday did more than move them back to the .500 mark.

It also reaffirmed their status as the AFC's biggest wild card as the 2012 season begins to take shape.

We've seen good, bad and ugly from the Broncos in their first three games. Now we saw their best performance. Peyton Manning was in vintage form. Willis McGahee ran with purpose. The defense gave Carson Palmer nothing to work with all day.

When your punter never sees the field, you know you had a nice day on offense.

You won't read any stories about Manning lacking arm strength this week. John Elway has to be pinching himself after his big free-agent fish went 30-of-38 passing for 338 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Manning was in complete control from the start. The Raiders never figured out how to slow the Broncos' balanced attack.

It was the type of performance we saw so many times during Manning's legendary run with the Indianapolis Colts. But can Manning replicate it over an extended stretch?

Things get more compelling as we spin forward. Manning meets an old friend next Sunday when the Broncos hit the road to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Which Broncos team will show up in Foxborough?

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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