Eagles vs. Broncos: 8 Takeaways from Denver's 52-20 Victory over Philadelphia
The Denver Broncos defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 52-20, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High for their 15th-straight regular season win. It was their fourth-straight dominant win to the start the 2013 season.
In what is becoming a weekly occurrence, this never felt like a game—the Broncos were in control all throughout, despite leading the game just 21-13 at the end of the first half.
Denver established single-game franchise records in points (52) and first downs (35) versus the Eagles.
Peyton Manning continued his scorching start to the season by not throwing an interception in Week 4, while throwing four touchdown passes on an 82 percent completion rate. His 16 passing touchdowns through the first four games of the season are a new NFL record.
Denver has flat-out dominated the opposition, making opponents at the NFL level look like high school football squads.
What should we expect out of the Broncos as we end the first quarter of the season? What are some takeaways from this 32-point victory?
This Is the Most Dominant Offense in Recent Memory
The Broncos have now scored 179 points through the first four games of the NFL season. That means they're averaging 44.75 points per game.
For comparison's sake, the 2011 New England Patriots averaged 33.75 points per game through the first four games, while the 2007 Patriots and 1998 Minnesota Vikings each averaged 37.0 points and 32.25 points per game.
The NFL record holder for points per game by a single team is held by the 1950 St. Louis Rams with 38.8 points per game.
And the 2013 Denver Broncos just might obliterate that mark.
These Broncos aren't racking up the points on the scoreboard to send a spiteful message at the end of games a la Bill Belichick and the 2007 New England Patriots. This offense is scoring because the points come by easily to this offense.
When backup quarterback Brock Osweiler took over in the fourth quarter on his first drive with Denver facing a third-and-11, it was just the second time all game that the Broncos faced a third down conversion.
Meaning through three quarters of work, Peyton Manning and the offense faced just one third-down predicament all game long.
I could name more records and statistics being set by this offense, but it just doesn't put into picture how dominant this offense is.
The Broncos Are the NFL's Best Team
While being the best team in the NFL through Week 4 rarely wins you Super Bowls (especially in recent memory), it does provide a positive look into the rest of the season for that team.
While the 4-0 Seattle Seahawks were overcoming a 17-point deficit in the second half to defeat the Houston Texans, the 4-0 Denver Broncos demoralized yet another opponent for the fourth time this season.
The Broncos' average margin of victory thus far has been 23.5 points. The Seahawks' average margin of victory has been 15.5 points.
You could argue Seattle's slate has been a bit tougher with opponents such as the San Francisco 49ers and the aforementioned Texas, but you can't argue what the statistics support.
The 2013 Denver Broncos have been the NFL's most dominant team through the first quarter of the NFL season.
The Broncos Can Score in Any Way
Whether you need a touchdown on offense by Peyton Manning, whether you need a touchdown on a special teams return by Trindon Holliday, or whether you need a touchdown from a block on a punt by special teams player Steven Johnson, the Broncos can score in bunches.
Today was an example of that.
Manning threw four touchdown passes, Holliday returned a kickoff for a touchdown and Johnson scored a touchdown from his own punt block and return, en route to Denver's franchise-record 52 points on the day.
When you talk about stacked units, the 2013 Denver Broncos are the epitome of what a stacked unit is.
Montee Ball Has Taken a Back Seat
While Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman were featured in the running game and the offense prominently throughout Sunday's game, rookie Montee Ball was an afterthought in the game plan.
As punishment for his struggles early on his career—including his fumble that resulted in an Oakland Raiders touchdown in last Monday night's 37-21 victory over the Raiders—Ball did not even see a snap on offense until late in the third quarter.
The rookie would see the majority of snaps of the three runners in the fourth quarter as the Broncos brought in backup Brock Osweiler at quarterback.
This scenario is going to change throughout the season, as head coach John Fox will pick whoever has the hot hand to carry the football.
Obviously, as Week 4 comes to a close, Ball is not the guy with the "hot hand."
The Defense Doesn't Need Champ Bailey and Von Miller
When I say the defense doesn't need Champ Bailey or Von Miller, I mean the defense doesn't need Champ Bailey or Von Miller at this moment.
It's hard to argue against that claim.
In Bailey's absence, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has shut down opposing No. 1 wide receivers with ease. Entering this game, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson ranked third in the league in receiving yards with 359 yards through three games.
Jackson ended Sunday afternoon with just two receptions for 34 yards.
The Broncos defense without Von sacked Michael Vick three times and held him without a touchdown.
When the regular season comes to a close, the Broncos defense will need playmakers like Von and Champ to step up in January.
But in the regular season? With the offense playing the way it has played?
Von and Champ can take their time in returning to the lineup.
Who Is Going to Slow Down Peyton Manning?
For those keeping count, after Peyton Manning's four-touchdown performance versus the Eagles, he now has 16 passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Which would mean he's on pace for 64 touchdowns on the year.
Manning's statistical pace has become a joke of sorts through the first four weeks of the season.
But what if he does keep up this pace? What if he continues to throw for three or four touchdowns a game with very little resistance from defenses as we've seen through the first four games of the season?
Who is going to stop him? Is the cold weather in November and December going to slow down the Broncos passing game? Are opponents later in the season such as the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots and Houston Texans going to be able to slow this passing juggernaut?
Manning's statistical pace after his seven-touchdown performance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 was thrown out there as a joke.
Three weeks later, it might not be as big of a joke as we once thought.
Who Is Going to Defeat the Denver Broncos?
The Denver Broncos are 4-0. They have won 15 straight regular season games, which is a new franchise record.
They have not lost a regular season game since Week 5 last year in New England.
It's very early in the season, and you have to take the NFL at a week-by-week approach. Obviously the hot teams of late September may not be so hot by the time December comes to a close.
But it's hard not to get giddy about this Broncos team.
They're dominating teams. Entering the postseason last year, the Broncos were considered Super Bowl favorites, before a couple of boneheaded plays late in last year's double-overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional playoffs brought their season to a premature close.
This team has been red-hot and nearly unstoppable for the past full year.
Opponents to watch for in the remaining weeks of the season are the Chiefs, Chargers, Patriots and Texans.
The Offensive Line Is Not an Issue
When the Broncos entered Week 3's game versus the Oakland Raiders for the first time since 2007 without starting left tackle Ryan Clady, the question was could the Broncos offense operate without their franchise tackle?
Backup Chris Clark was plugged in Clady's spot for that game. The result? A 37-21 victory which saw Peyton Manning throw for 374 yards on a 32-of-37 passing clip.
Fast forward to Week 4 versus the Philadelphia Eagles. What did the Broncos offensive line do without Clady for a second consecutive game?
They allowed just one sack and paved the way for another passing gem by Manning—four passing touchdowns—while leading the way for the Broncos running backs to run for 138 yards on 31 carries.
There just aren't many issues in Bronco land entering Week 5.