By Jerry Sullivan
A quarter of the way through the season, the Peyton Manning-led Broncos are on pace to shatter the NFL team scoring record of 589 points, set by the 2007 Patriots. But the Broncos' sizzling start also has observers wondering if Denver might equal the '07 Pats by going 16-0 in the regular season.
The Broncos have won their last 15 regular-season games, so it's not so outlandish. They won their last 11 a year ago before blowing an epic divisional playoff game to the Ravens in double overtime. During those 15 games, the Broncos have outscored their opponents by nearly two to one -- 525 to 266. They've outscored their four victims this season, 179-91, putting them on pace for a staggering 716 points.
Manning, who was dismissed by a lot of critics after missing the 2011 season with a neck injury, has been spectacular since going to the Mile High City. In his 20 games as a Bronco, Manning has thrown for 6,129 yards and 53 touchdowns, completing exactly 70 percent of his passes. This season, he has 16 TDs and no interceptions and is rating at 138.0 FOR THE SEASON.
So it's no wonder people are speculating about them running the table. But it's highly unlikely. Denver has played a fairly easy schedule thus far. They still have road games left at Dallas (this weekend), Indianapolis (Oct. 20), New England (Nov. 24), Kansas City (Dec. 1) and Houston (Dec. 22).
There could be some very compelling story lines if the Broncos keep winning. How about Manning returning to Indy for the first team with an unbeaten team? Imagine the giddiness among the NBC honchos, contemplating a Manning-Tom Brady matchup on Sunday night with one or both undefeated. Hey, and let's not forget the Chiefs are unbeaten and a viable threat to Denver in the AFC West.
Of course, there are less glamorous possibiltiies. Two weeks from now, the Broncos host Jacksonville, which is winless and offensively inept. Oddsmakers are speculating that the game would have the biggest point spread in modern NFL history. The talk is Denver could be favored by 28 points, and maybe even 30.
The largest point spread is believed to be Steelers minus-27 against the Buccaneers in Tampa in 1976. Pittsburgh won and covered, 42-0.