Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Are the Denver Broncos the Best Team in NFL History?

Through 5 games, the Denver Broncos look to be the best team ever in the NFL.  The numbers speak for themselves:  Their 46 points per game is a full 16 points higher than the Dallas Cowboys, who are in 2nd place this year.  They are averaging nearly 500 yards per game.  Quarterback Peyton Manning has already thrown 20 touchdown passes to just 1 interception.  That’s more than twice the touchdown passes by Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub, Andrew Luck, and Tom Brady.  So while the Broncos are clearly playing head and shoulders above everyone else today (particularly on offense), is this team the greatest we’ve ever seen?  And should we now put our entire life saving’s on this sure bet to win Super Bowl XLVIII?

At 5-0, the Broncos have been perfect, but we all know this is a long season, and those ’72 Miami Dolphins are the lone team to sustain it throughout an entire year.  Recent seasons have seen similar early displays of dominance.  The 2007 Patriots actually went 16-0 during the regular season and put up most of the NFL records that the Broncos will be chasing.  The 2011 Green Bay Packers started 13-0, and Aaron Rodgers went on to break the single season quarterback rating with 122.5 (Manning’s 2013 rating is currently 136.4).  It is worth pointing out though that neither of those tremendous teams won the Super Bowl that year.

The problem with blazing hot starts to an NFL season is that you risk running out of steam.  The Super Bowl champion is usually the team that clicks towards the end of the season, not the start.  Passing becomes more difficult as the temperatures drop, so the games begin to revolve around clock management and rushing attacks.  Knowshon Moreno is off to a decent start this year, but it may have a lot to do with opposing defense’s current pre-occupation in defending Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker.  Also, the Broncos may have a fumbling problem with 6 fumble losses on the year (only the New York Giants have more with 7).

Another common trait among Super Bowl champions is a strong defense.  The jury is still out on the Broncos’ defense.  Although they rank 29th in yards allowed, their 8th rank in points allowed resembles an ability to hold down the fort. Also, remember that superstar linebacker Von Miller hasn’t played a single snap this year.  After recording 18 sacks last season, Miller could vastly boost this defense and help terrorize opponents.

Therefore, I think we should optimistic about the Broncos’ Super Bowl chances, but we need to exercise some patience.  Yes, this team is on pace to shatter quite a few records, but when temperatures drop and the team faces some real adversity, we will get a stronger sense of their true capabilities.  It’s also worth mentioning that the Broncos have had a fairly soft schedule up to this point, with their opponents combining to a 9-16 record (excluding games against Denver it is 9-11).  Looking ahead, there are really only 4 tough games on the schedule (2 against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, 1 against the Patriots, and 1 mouth-watering date with Manning’s former team, the Indianapolis Colts).  We will probably have to wait until the NFL playoffs to determine how special this Denver Broncos team really is, and should wait until they actually win the Super Bowl before we start declaring them the best team ever.

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