If the season ended today, the Broncos would have:
1) A perfect record, the first one since 2007 but one with a giant asterisk
2) The best offense in NFL history… by 8 points per game.
Sep 29, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws the ball during the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Obviously, the first point doesn’t really matter. The season isn’t ending today and a four game long perfect record isn’t that important either. It seemed too obvious not to add, so I felt I had to. The second point, however, is pretty astounding. The 2007 Patriots scored 36.8 points per game. The Broncos currently score just short of 45 per game. Basically, through the first four games, the Broncos are scoring better than the best offense of all time-by more than 20%.
I will state now that I don’t think the Cowboys will win. I don’t know if the Broncos will outscore them by 25, but a two touchdown victory wouldn’t shock me. The Broncos, in addition to scoring, have the best total offense and the best passing offense. Their running game is basically average- they currently sit 15th in rushing yards per game.
Those of you who consistently read my column may notice that I do a reasonably thourough, stat based, offensive rundown and skimp on the defensive side of the ball. Today will be no different. The good news is that any real threat to the Cowboys comes from this side of the ball.
Peyton Manning is currently having one of the best starts of any quarterback in history, if not the best. He has thrown for 16 touchdowns, no interceptions, 1,470 yards. If his season were extrapolated to 16 games, he would have:
- 64 touchdowns
- 5,880 yards
- 468 completions
- His passing rating may still stay at 138.0. That I confess I’m not sure of.
In a testament to his offensive line, Manning, probably the least mobile quarterback in the league, or not far from it, would, in this scenario, have only been sacked 20 times. The Cowboys might pick off a Manning pass, but only because the law of averages says he almost certainly will at some point. But expecting to stop down Manning is simply unrealistic. Unless they Cowboys devise some way to get consistent, heavy, pressure on him, there is simply no way I foresee Manning having anything other than a great statistical day.
On the rushing side, the Broncos don’t dominate in the same way they do on the passing side. Possibly because of the overall excellence of the passing game, the Broncos just don’t run all that much. No back they have averages more than 60 yards per game. Former first round pick Knowshon Moreno is close, at 59.5 yards per game, that is still Julius Jones level. Obviously, I’m joking. Jones was even worse. Still, the rushing attack, while important to provide another option, probably won’t be the reason Dallas wins or loses.
The last few weeks, I’ve evaluated the offensive line. I don’t think I’ll continue that, only because articles on football’s second least heralded unit (behind the gunners on special teams) are almost impossible to find. Those that do exist usually discuss only injuries and not much else. Still, the Broncos pass protection is obviously excellent.
Robert Ayers has rejuvenated what looked like a lost career. He has 3.5 sacks through 4 games, the same tally as teammate Shaun
Nov 11, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is hit as he passes the ball by Denver Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers (91) in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Phillips. That being said, the defense as a whole hasn’t done nearly as well. They rank 30th in passing yards allowed per game, 21st in turnovers and 15th in points per game. Basically, they are a slightly below average defense, statistically, though not grotesquely so.
I don’t see, based on the first four games, the Broncos being seriously stopped. If the Cowboys execute well, they could hold the Broncos to somewhere between 31-38 points. Basically, this game will be a shootout. The other strategy the Cowboys could try is ball control, but their running game probably isn’t strong enough. Also, the Broncos are fourth in rushing yards per game. Tony Romo will have to beat Peyton Manning.