This week, it is likely that the football world will be provided with an answer to the question that has dominated the conversation in Denver for the past month: Will Peyton Manning play for the Broncos in 2015?

It’s expected that the answer will be yes, as all signs point in that direction; Manning has said that he’s “physically and emotionally ready to play in 2015,” while the team has repeatedly reiterated that they want him as their quarterback for a fourth season. But that’s been the case for more than two weeks, causing many to wonder why an official announcement has yet to come; that’s resulted in plenty of uneasy feelings around the Mile High City.

This period of uncertainty has also provided a chance for the group of people who actually hope that the answer from Manning, the Broncos or both is a “no” to voice their opinions; it’s resulted in a groundswell of negativity that seems to gain steam with each passing day. More and more, the notion that Denver is better off without their future Hall of Fame quarterback is becoming more and more popular.

It’s a foolish idea. And that’s being kind.

The only realistic expectation for a team is that they are a championship contender. While winning a title is certainly the goal, falling short of that objective can’t be deemed a failure; there are simply too many variables that go into determining which team ultimately prevails during the NFL’s razor-thin playoffs.

Thus, the idea that the “Manning Experiment” has been a flop because the Broncos haven’t won a Super Bowl during his time in Denver is ridiculous. During his three years in Denver, the team has been a legit contender; they’ve entered the playoffs as a No. 1, 1 and 2 seed during his time in orange and blue, the very definition of having a realistic chance to win it all.

Would it have been nice to win a championship in 2012, ’13 or ’14? Of course. But being in the mix shouldn’t be discounted, as it is by many in the anti-Manning camp.

It’s hard to become a contender. Every year, there are only six to eight who have a realistic chance of winning a title; the rest are desperately trying to get into the conversation. To voluntarily join the club of wannabes, a group that is on the outside looking in with no timetable on getting a seat at the table, seems like a crazy notion; instead, clutching onto an invite to the postseason party for as long as possible would be a more logical choice.

But the sting of another playoff disappointment is still fresh. The loss to the Colts in still an open wound, causing pain that is clouding people’s judgment. There’s no other explanation for wanting to get rid of a quarterback who is 38-10 as Denver’s starting quarterback, especially considering that the franchise was 35-45 during the five years before he arrived.

The desire to start fresh is easy to vocalize in March, when games are still six months away. It’s a time when it’s hard to imagine what it will be like to actually suffer through a team that is 2-8 in November, playing meaningless games down the stretch. That reality is something the anti-Manning crowd doesn’t fully consider.

They also haven’t completely thought through the next phase. They haven’t contemplated what’s next for a franchise that has admitted it doesn’t have a plan B.

Some suggest that it’s time to give backup quarterback Brock Osweiler a chance; after three years as Manning’s apprentice, they want to see what the young signal caller can do. They’re ready to turn the reins over to a player who has completed just 17 passes as a pro.

Osweiler may turn out to be a very good quarterback or he may be a complete bust; nobody knows for sure. But there’s little doubt that he’ll struggle during his first season as a starter; that’s just how the transition to the NFL goes. And that means Broncos fans should be prepared for a rough season if he’s at the helm.

In 1999, Brian Griese took over for John Elway, inheriting a team that had won back-to-back Super Bowl titles. He proceeded to go 6-10 during his first year at the helm. There’s no reason to believe that Osweiler wouldn’t suffer a similar baptism by fire, given that he’s taking over a team with far more holes that the one Griese guided to double-digits losses.

Of course, the Broncos could choose to go with a veteran free agent as the heir apparent to Manning. But the class of 2015 is headlined by the likes of Jake Locker and Mark Sanchez, a duo that has exactly lit up the league during the years in the NFL.

The reality is that competent quarterbacks no longer become available on the open market; Manning was the aberration in 2012. Instead, the available signal callers are all flawed in some way.

But team’s desperate for help at the most important position in professional sports are willing to try anyone that might be able to play. That creates a market where a player like Josh McCown, a 35-year-old quarterback who was part of the Buccaneers disastrous 2-14 season last year, become coveted acquisitions; the Browns celebrated signing him last week, while the Bills bemoaned missing out on adding him to their QB-light roster.

That doesn’t sound like a fun game to jump into. Hoping to fill the void at quarterback via a free-agent signing is a long-shot gamble. At best.

Others will argue that the Broncos can find the quarterback of the future in the draft, believing that the team’s savior is out there on a college campus somewhere. That’s a nice notion, one that is fueled by the promise that always comes with the unknown. But it’s not one that is based in reality.

During the franchise’s 54-year history, Denver has won a grand total of one playoff game that was started by a quarterback the team drafted; that came in 2011, when Tim Tebow led the Broncos to a victory over the Steelers. That’s a track record that suggests turning a college QB into a viable pro isn’t exactly a full-proof plan.

But these realities don’t matter to the true believers; they don’t care about the pitfalls that come with a plan to replace Manning. In fact, they don’t even care if the team has a road map for the future. Instead, they simply rely on one mantra: “In John We Trust.”

This is the group that has blind faith in Elway to chart the Broncos course for the future. They don’t need to hear details. They don’t care about history. And they aren’t swayed by the numbers. All that matters to them is that No. 7 is calling the shots.

And while Elway’s record since taking over as the Broncos executive vice president of football operations is impressive, winning four AFC West titles during his four seasons that the helm, that’s an unwarranted amount of trust. It certainly doesn’t justify parting ways with a quarterback who all but assures a season of 10-plus wins.

Yes, Elway was able to land Manning in 2012, signing the player who was perhaps the greatest free agent in the history of the league. So his recruiting skills are hard to argue. But he can’t control what QBs are on the open market. If Drew Brees, Brett Favre or Kurt Warner become available, there’s no doubt that Elway would have a shot at landing them, but those types of players are the exception to the rule; it’s more likely that he’ll be shopping in a store that features the likes of Locker and Sanchez.

And there’s no reason to believe that Elway will be able to land a QB in the draft. For all his success as the architect of the Broncos, No. 7 hasn’t exactly proven to be a great evaluator of college talent. Take a look at the team’s 2013 draft as an example; had the team simply passed every time it was their turn to make a pick, they’d have as many impact players as they found in Sylvester Williams, Montee Ball, Kayvon Webster, Quanterus Smith, Tavarres King, Vinston Painter and Zac Dystert. That’s not exactly a confidence-inspiring class.

In other words, Elway isn’t flawless. He’s also not a miracle worker. Instead, he’s an executive who will have a herculean task in front of him if he parts ways with his star quarterback; his team will be in a full-fledged rebuilding mode, a ride that will be bumpy and will be of an unknown duration.

Why rush into that? What kind of a masochist would sign up for such a fate?

It’s much smarter to make 2015 another season filled with hope. And it’d be far wiser to use the upcoming year to put together a viable plan B.

Osweiler should play the entire preseason, getting snaps with first-teamers against first-teamers. And take a page out of Gregg Popovich’s playbook during the regular season, sitting Manning for a game or two; that’ll save the QB for the playoffs and give Osweiler some valuable experience for the future.

Here’s hoping the Broncos are letting cooler heads prevail, rather than listening to the crowd circling Manning with pitchforks. It’s time for a thought-out plan instead of a knee-jerk reaction.