Broncos clinch AFC West; Peyton Manning sets single-season TD record

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Peyton Manning

HOUSTON – Be honest, Broncos fans. You were starting to worry.

Before Denver laid a 21-point beatdown on the Houston Texans in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Broncos were only up 16-13 at the end of the third. That was cause for concern, since the Texans (2-12) are hardly the biggest challenge on Peyton Manning and company’s immediate horizon.

But by the time it was all over, Manning had thrown for 400 yards, bringing his season total to 5,211 passing yards and 51 touchdowns. The scoring flurry broke Tom Brady’s single-season TD record (50), and was plenty good enough to bury Houston, 37-13.

The win improved Denver’s record to 12-3. Since the Kansas City Chiefs dropped their Sunday game against the Indianapolis Colts, the Broncos have locked up the AFC West as well as a first-round playoff bye.

As any Baltimore Ravens fan will be quick to remind you, a first-round bye doesn’t guarantee a Super Bowl trip. But it’s sure a nice start.