The Denver Broncos were founded in 1959 and one of the original eight American Football League franchises. The Broncos, based on record, were the worst team in the history of the AFL winning just 39 games in 10 seasons. The Broncos continued to struggle after the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. In fact the Broncos did not have a winning season until 1976. In 1977 the Broncos finally made the playoff for the first time in history. Quarterback Craig Morton led the Broncos to a 12-2 record and Broncos won their first AFC Championship by defeating the Oakland Raiders. However, the Broncos were defeated 27-10 in the Super Bowl at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. The Broncos made the playoffs again in 1978 and 1979, but were eliminated each time in the first round.
The Broncos missed the playoffs in 1980 and 1981. The Broncos won just 2 games during the 1982 strike season. In 1983 quarterback John Elway was drafted number one in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, but refused to play for the team. As a result, the Colts traded Elway to the Broncos. The Broncos returned to the playoff in 1983 and 1984 Elway at quarterback, but were eliminated in the first round each season. In 1985 the Broncos missed the playoffs despite an 11-5 record. The Broncos returned to the playoffs in 1986 and advanced to their first AFC Championship Game since 1977 after defeating the New England Patriots. The following week the Broncos played the Cleveland Browns in the game known as “The Drive”. The Broncos were down 20-13 with 5:32 remaining in the fourth quarter and the ball on their own 2 yard line. Fourteen plays later, John Elway tied the game with a touchdown pass to Mark Jackson. The Broncos would win in overtime and advance to their first Super Bowl in team history. In the Super Bowl the Broncos were defeated by the New York Giants 39-20. In 1987 the Broncos again played the Browns in another one of the NFL greatest games. This game is known as “The Fumble” for Earnest Byner’s fumble at the 2 yard line, which cost the Browns the game. As was the case in 1986, the Broncos defeated the Browns in the AFC Title Game, but were defeated in the Super Bowl by the Washington Redskins. Once again in 1989 the Broncos defeated the Browns for the AFC Championship and then went on to lose the Super Bowl. The Broncos lost to the 49ers 55-10 in the biggest blow out in Super Bowl history.
The Broncos struggled in the early 1990’s, missing the playoffs four times in six seasons. However, the Broncos managed to return to glory under head coach Mike Shanahan. In 1996 the Broncos won 13 games, but were upset in the playoffs by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were only in their second season of existence. In 1997 the Broncos once again returned to the Super Bowl. At age 37 John Elway had finally won a Super Bowl for the Denver Broncos by defeating the Green Bay Packers. The Broncos repeated as Super Bowl Champions in 1998 by defeating the Atlanta Falcons in John Elway’s last game. Between 1999 and 2010 the Broncos have won just one playoff game, which came in 2005. In 2011 the Broncos experienced “Tebowmania” as backup quarterback Tim Tebow led the Broncos to the playoffs after a 1-4 start. In the playoffs the Broncos beat the Pittsburg Steelers in overtime in the first round, but were crushed by the New England Patriots the following week. During the offseason the Broncos traded Tim Tebow to the New York Jets after they signed quarterback Peyton Manning. Heading into 2012 the Broncos are the favorite to win the AFC West.