In the NFL’s recent history, it’s hard to find a team as dominant as the Denver Broncos have been through the first five weeks of the 2013 NFL season.
Sure, there was the 2011 Green Bay Packers team that rolled over most of their schedule en route to a 15-1 record, but they were ousted in their first playoff game by the New York Giants, the Lombardi Trophy’s eventual captor.
Before that was the 2007 Patriots; a team in the midst of a dynasty, searching for history. The first team ever to go 16-0 in the regular season, the Pats would fall one David Tyree helmet catch short of becoming the first team ever to win 19 games in a season.
Is this year’s version of the Broncos better than the nearly-undefeated, Tom Brady-led, Bill Belichick-masterminded Patriots?
Well, it’s too early to tell.
But what is sure by now is that the Broncos are head and shoulders above the rest of the field.
At this point, oddsmakers are taking the same approach they did when Tiger Woods was in his prime: Tiger or the field?
Except now it’s Peyton or the field.
The middle Manning son, Peyton that is, has resurrected his career in Denver; a likely story for maybe the best quarterback ever to play the game and undoubtedly the most intelligent.
What isn’t likely is the way he’s doing it: 1,884 yards, 20 touchdowns, 75.8 percent completion rate, 92.0 QBR (75 is considered elite), 143.6 rating, blah, blah, blah, stats, stats, stats. The list is too long for me to fit in this article, so I’ll just cut to the chase.
Nobody, and I mean nobody predicted that Manning would throw almost 20 TD passes before throwing one interception. Nobody predicted that he would be on pace to break every NFL single-season passing record about two years removed from neck surgery. And I guarantee nobody predicted that at age 37, he’d have a naked bootleg touchdown run.
Not even the camera man filming the game.
This article was meant to be about the other guys, the guys chasing the Broncos, but look what Peyton has done to me. His Jedi mind tricks have gotten me to write 200 words about his greatness.
Somehow, I’m not surprised.
So who can hang with Manning and the Broncos? Is Dallas the real deal? Was that 51-48 shootout an indication of what the Cowboys can do?
I’d like to leave that question open-ended, but let’s face it: the Broncos get Champ Bailey and Von Miller back in the next two weeks- they won’t be giving up 48 points again anytime soon.
Not to mention Tony Romo’s track record in the playoffs.
So the Cowboys are out, but who can contend with the Broncos? The 49ers have struggled mightily, especially through the air. The Ravens look to be a shell of their Championship selves without Ray Lewis. The Seahawks look great at home, but away from Seattle it’s a different story. The Falcons are beaten up, and after a loss to the New York Jets, I think it’s safe to say they have no shot at beating the Broncos.
The Patriots look flat, the Bengals start Andy Dalton at quarterback, and the Packers have been inconsistent.
In my eyes, that leaves two teams that can contend with the Broncos, and you don’t have to look far to find the first.
That’s right, the Broncos don’t even lead their own division outright, as the Kansas City Chiefs have matched Denver with a 5-0 start of their own.
But why you ask? They finished 2-14 last year! They can’t be real contenders! The Chiefs? Why?
Why not? The now Andy Reid-led squad has the defense to win games, and they’ve done just that, beating the Eagles and Cowboys along the way. They haven’t allowed more than 17 points in any game, and rank 4th in the league in pass defense, making me a believer.
5-0 doesn’t mean all that much- ask the 2012 Cardinals- but it’s a great start, proving that KC has turned over a new leaf and is now ready to win.
It’s too bad we have to wait until week 11 to see the Chiefs and Broncos play.
As I mentioned before, there was another team that I felt could contend with the Broncos, and that team is, of course, the New York Giants.
The team does share something in common with the Giants however- the word “new” begins the name of the city they call home. But instead of “new” being followed by “york,” it’s followed by Orleans.
The New Orleans Saints are also undefeated and have toppled the once-contending Falcons, the up-and-coming Dolphins and the resurgent Bears.
With Sean Payton back at the helm, the Saints’ offense has looked as sharp as ever, and Jimmy Graham simply cannot be defended. A combination of Dick Butkus and Wolverine couldn’t match up with the man.
And the defense, once the laughingstock of the league, has rediscovered itself under Rob Ryan. They rank 12th against the pass and 18th against the run, compared to last year’s ranking of “did not start.”
However, there’s nothing like a trip to Foxboro to find out if you mean business or not. This Sunday’s game will determine where the Saints (and Patriots) stand as contenders.
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