Peyton Manning Is Pushing the Denver Broncos Offense to Unthinkable Heights

Christopher HansenNFL AnalystSeptember 24, 2013

What can be said about quarterback Peyton Manning that hasn't already been said? Manning will be in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, he's still probably the best quarterback in football at age 37 and his team is the favorite to win the Super Bowl.

Three games into his second season with the Denver Broncos, and Manning is pushing the offense to unthinkable heights. With over 42 points and 487 yards per game, the Broncos are on pace for an NFL-record 677 points and 7,787 total yards of offense.

In a 37-21 blowout win in Week 3 against the Oakland Raiders, Manning set a record for the most touchdown passes in the first three games with 12 and upped his passing yardage total to 1,143. Manning has done all of this while throwing zero interceptions. Zero.

Not only has no quarterback ever thrown 12 touchdowns in the first three games, but only three quarterbacks have ever had more passing yards in the first three. Of those players, only one had his team at 3-0 (Kurt Warner), and each of them had at least five interceptions to go with all of those yards.

Put simply, no quarterback has ever had a start as impressive as Manning. With all the weapons he has at his disposal and what looks to be a soft schedule the rest of the way, Manning could (maybe even should) break multiple single-season records.

Manning has rendered the loss of star pass-rusher Von Miller (suspension) and cornerback Champ Bailey (injury) for the first three games irrelevant. Even though the Broncos are missing two of the best defensive players in the league, it hasn't bothered them at all because it's easy to play defense when leading by three scores. 

The only Broncos' loss in the last 15 games came after an improbable touchdown pass by the Ravens in the frigid air in Denver last January. Just to make sure it didn't happen again, the Broncos gave Manning more weapons, which he has promptly put to good use.

With wide receiver Wes Welker in the slot and Julius Thomas at tight end, defenses have to pick their poison. As long as Manning is under center, all of those poisons are deadly. Try to drop an extra defender into coverage, and the Broncos will just use their three-headed monster at running back to move the chains.

Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Welker and Thomas have sliced through opposing secondaries like a hot knife through butter. Manning threw just five incomplete passes against the Raiders, thus becoming the third player ever to attempt more than 35 passes while completing at least 86 percent of them and throwing for three or more touchdowns. 

The talent-deprived Raiders were no match for Manning, and he even victimized future Hall of Fame defensive back Charles Woodson for a touchdown as if to just demonstrate his superiority. It's actually scary to think what Manning could have done if the Broncos didn't run the ball 35 times, the majority of which came after they were up 27-7 at halftime.

To put some perspective on Denver's offense to this point, consider that the Broncos have scored 31 more points than the Green Bay Packers through three games. That's over 10 more points per game than the second-highest scoring team in the league. That's remarkable considering there are 18 teams within 10 points per game of the Packers.

Even though the Broncos played the New York Giants in Week 2—the team with the worst defense in points allowed through three weeks—their three opponents have allowed just 20 points per game in their other six games. That means Denver's opponents are averaging about 23 fewer points allowed per game when facing a team other than the Broncos.

Only Tom Landry's 1966 and 1968 Dallas Cowboys have equaled the 2013 Broncos in points scored in their first three games. The Cowboys lost a combined five games those two seasons, but that was a very different NFL.

Post-merger, only the 2009 New Orleans Saints have come close to the Broncos' start. The Saints scored 120 points in their first three games compared to 127 for the Broncos. It was that Saints team that beat Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts to win the Super Bowl.

Two out of the five teams post-merger to score 115 points or more in their first three games won the Super Bowl that year. Lower the standard to 100 points in their first three games, and three of 19 teams won the Super Bowl while four others made it there and lost.

Only three offenses in history have put up more yards through three games than the Broncos. The most recent was the 2011 New England Patriots that made it to the Super Bowl and lost to Peyton's brother, Eli, by four points. The Patriots lost a total of four games that year, but none by more than one score. 

Even though three games may seem like a small sample size, Manning has elevated Denver's offense to the point that it's reasonable to assume they may not lose another game all year.

Denver's goal is a Super Bowl win. And with an offense this potent, it is well on its way.