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Denver Broncos: Why Eric Decker Is Emerging as Peyton Manning's Go-to Target

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 04:  Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos runs with the ball while defended by Terence Newman #23 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on November 4, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Bobby KittlebergerCorrespondent INovember 5, 2012

Demaryius Thomas is still the most threatening receiver the Denver Broncos have when it comes to the deep ball. He's hauled in a team-high 17 catches of more than 20 yards, which is 10 more than anyone else on Denver's roster.

However, in terms of developing a close-knit chemistry with quarterback Peyton Manning, the edge has to go to Eric Decker at this point in the season.

Decker has now been targeted by Manning 70 times this year, more than any other Bronco receiver. He's also hauled in a team-high seven touchdown grabs, several of which were spectacular end-zone catches that have exemplified the amount of trust Manning now has in him, especially in the red zone.

Going beyond pure stats, Manning has been targeting Decker when the game is on the line, and Decker continues to deliver on a consistent basis. The overall sense is that the two players are starting to develop a strong sense of chemistry and are very much on the same page.

That's, of course, not to discount the rest of the Broncos receiving corps.

As I've stated, Thomas is still the clear No. 1 option, and Brandon Stokley has been as good as one can be as a reliable slot receiver. There's a sense that the Broncos receivers as a whole have gained enough familiarity with Manning's style to use their size and athleticism to really start making things click for Mike McCoy's offense.

However, Decker's ability to find the end zone shows that he's quickly becoming Manning's go-to target. Having only converted eight catches for touchdowns all of last year, the fact that Decker is at seven already is a remarkable increase in his stock, and there's no reason we should expect it to cool off anytime soon.

The most difficult part of the Broncos' schedule is over, and the only game in which they won't be clear favorites will be against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15.

Considering that Decker was able to have the kind of success he's had through the first nine weeks, look for him to continue the trend through the end of the season.

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