Things did not go well for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the latter half of last season. In his final seven games last year (including playoffs) he had just one 300-yard passing game. In his final five, he produced a passer rating of just 79.9, a far cry from his career average of 97.5. Rumors suggested a thigh injury was to blame, but regardless of the reason, Denver's offense dropped off by four points in the latter half of the season and the Broncos were defeated handedly in their one post-season game. Considering all of this, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Manning is on his last legs.

But it's also possible that Manning is now preparing to go out in a blaze of glory this season. ESPN asked its division writers who will be the MVP of the AFC West this season and guess which name popped up?

"At a time when quarterbacks and receivers continue to pile up the big numbers, the division has the prospect of three running backs - Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, Denver's C.J. Anderson and San Diego's Melvin Gordon - powering their team's offenses," Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold wrote. "But Peyton Manning could have a big year in what could be his last ride with the Broncos. The key will be coach Gary Kubiak finding a balance between Manning's desire to throw the ball early to get in a rhythm and Kubiak's desire to protect his quarterback with a run game that isn't simply an afterthought. It's a tall order, especially when Manning's inconsistencies from 2014 are considered. Former coach John Fox wanted to run the ball more down the stretch and Manning never seemed to regain his form from earlier in the season, especially after a December thigh injury. But Kubiak is smart and played quarterback. It's a good bet Manning will put together a big year."

Before Manning's sudden downturn last year, the Broncos were averaging 30.1 points per game in nine outings with Manning having thrown for 2,912 yards with 29 touchdowns against just seven interceptions while completing 69 percent of his passes during that time. Is that the Manning fans will get when the 2015 season opens? Or will the future Hall of Fame quarterback be reduced to the lesser player he was in the playoffs?

Let's hope for the former.