Peyton Manning will be the single-season passing touchdown record holder in, at most, three weeks.
Before the calendars flip to 2014, the Denver Broncos quarterback will exceed the 50 touchdowns his arch nemesis Tom Brady threw in the undefeated regular season of 2007 with the New England Patriots.
Sure, Manning and his offense weren't in sync in the 27-20 home loss to the San Diego Chargers on Thursday Night Football. They were held under 300 total yards for the first time this season, and Manning finished with a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio for the third time in 14 games, tied for his second-worst ratio of the season.
The loss will hurt the Broncos' chances to earn the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. It'll halt some valuable December momentum.
But Manning's still on pace to break the passing touchdown record.
He sits on 47 touchdowns with two games to play, and in Week 16, Denver heads to Houston to take on the hapless Texans.
Here's how the Texans stack up against Manning's numbers:
|Peyton vs. Texans' Secondary|
|Passing Touchdowns Per Game||Drives Per Passing Touchdown||Attempts Per Passing Touchdown|
|Football Outsiders and Pro Football Reference|
Based on their seasonal average—170 drives in 14 games—the Broncos can be projected to have the football for nearly 12 possessions against the Texans, a team that currently averages exactly 13 defensive drives per game.
Therefore, again, if Manning meets the Texans' secondary in the middle, he would throw two more touchdown passes, at minimum, to bring his total to 49.
The Oakland Raiders, Manning's final opponent in the 2013 regular season, have allowed 23 touchdowns in 13 games, the same figure as the Texans, meaning the future first-ballot Hall of Famer can be expected to throw "2.55" touchdowns in that game as well.
At that rate, Manning would end the year with 51 touchdown passes, the most all time in a single season.
However, don't be surprised if Manning doesn't necessarily meet the next three secondaries he plays "in the middle" despite basically doing so against the Chargers in Week 15.
If his seven-touchdown masterpiece to begin the 2013 campaign is removed from the stat sheet, Manning still averages more than three touchdown passes per game.
Peyton Manning won't blow away Tom Brady's 50, but the Denver Broncos quarterback should finish somewhere between 51 and 54 touchdown passes this season.