After the Broncos saw backup quarterback Brock Osweiler start the final seven games of the 2015 regular season for the team, future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning will return to his starting role for the Broncos' first playoff game, the Broncos announced Thursday.
The Broncos earned the AFC's #1 seed, made possible by beating the Bengals in overtime in Week 16. They won't play in Wild Card weekend and their first game of the playoffs will be next weekend, when they'll face the lowest remaining seeded team in the divisional round.
Gary Kubiak told the team in their Thursday morning meeting that he plans to switch back to Manning being the starter. Kubiak met with Manning and Osweiler each before announcing the decision. Manning entered the Broncos' Week 17 game when the team was trailing the Chargers. A win by the Chargers would have made the Bengals the AFC's #2 seed and pushed the Broncos into the #5 seed. Manning was able to come in, be the hero and lead the Broncos to victory on Sunday.
The news of Manning starting comes with the announcement that Osweiler sprained his knee against the Chargers, but should be ready to go as Manning's backup by next Sunday.
In 8 games played this season, Osweiler completed 170/275 passes (61.8%) for 1,967 yards, 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He finished the regular season with a 48.8 QBR and 86.4 quarterback rating. In 10 games played this season, Manning has completed 198/331 passes (59.8%), a 45.0 QBR, 67.9 quarterback rating and 9 touchdowns with 17 interceptions.
The soonest the Bengals could meet the Broncos in the playoffs is in the AFC Championship game on Sunday, January 24.