At this rate, Broncos end up 14-2

At this rate …

The Denver Broncos will finish 14-2 on the regular season, a one-game improvement on last season, and finish as runner-up in the AFC West to Kansas City, which at this rate will finish 16-0.

Mathematically, that can’t happen, of course, since the Broncos have lost once already and if the Chiefs run the table, it would leave Denver with three losses. But we’re talking rates, not reality.

Denver could end up 14-2. No way Kansas City ends up 16-0.

To go 7-1 in the second half, the Broncos will have to do something that approximates beating the Chiefs once in two tries, then whip the San Diego Chargers twice, the New England Patriots, the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders for a second time.

We should know much about what is to come of the playoff situation over the next month.

The Broncos have the much-needed bye week on deck, then play at San Diego, home against the Chiefs, travel to New England to play the Pats, then to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. Denver’s finish looks relatively tame, at home against Tennessee, on the road against struggling Houston and at Oakland.

My feeling is that status remaining relatively quo — meaning Peyton Manning is still upright through all of this — the Broncos finish no worse than 13-3.

I can see Kansas City losing three games, maybe more. The Chiefs still have two games with both Denver and San Diego and have a date with Indianapolis, the one team that has beaten the Broncos, in their season finale at home. They also play five of their last eight on the road, where they are not nearly as dominant as at home.

At this rate …

The Broncos will finish as the highest-scoring team of all time, averaging nearly 43 points a game. They are on pace to score almost 700 points, more than 100 ahead of the record of 589 set in 2007 by New England.

Manning will finish with 5,838 yards passing and 58 touchdown passes, both easily over the top. Drew Brees set the record for yards in a season with 5,476 with the New Orleans Saints. Tom Brady had 50 touchdown passes in that 2007 season with the Patriots.

Oh yes, at his current pace, Manning is simply adding to the dozens of records he already holds, many of them having to do with career passer rating — even after Sunday’s rather shoddy performance in which he threw three interceptions and had a fumble, a rare day for him indeed.

At this rate …

Many other Broncos will, if nothing else, will have raised plenty of eyebrows with their performances.

Chief among them will be the Four Amigos of the receiving corps, wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, slot receiver Wes Welker and tight end Julius Thomas.

All four should certainly be in Pro Bowl talk and competing for slots on the All-Pro team.

Welker leads the team with 50 catches, obviously on pace for yet another 100-catch season. Demaryius Thomas and Decker aren’t far behind with 48 and 46 catches, respectively, and Julius Thomas has 39 receptions.

At this rate …

The defensive unit looked better than it had all season in holding the Washington Redskins to less than 300 yards offense and mercilessly hounding Robert Griffin III in the pocket, eventually chasing him from the game.

Von Miller got his first sack and forced fumble and looked much better than he did in his season debut.

The Broncos got a huge game up front from tackle Terrance Knighton, his best effort so far, and previously unseen rush pressure from Derek Wolfe.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan will end up with close to 120 tackles and six interceptions on the season. First-year safety Duke Ihenacho will finish with 100 tackles. Linebacker/defensive end Shaun Phillips, the bargain-basement free agent, will finish with 13 sacks, and defensive end Robert Ayers with nine.

At this rate …

With the trade deadline today, there has been talk of the Broncos making a blockbuster trade or two, maybe to add a bit more firepower to the pass rush, maybe to help steady the offensive line. Rumored on the move if a team would meet the Minnesota Vikings’ wish list is defensive end Jared Allen, with the Broncos reportedly a possibility.

Crazier talk has it that the Cleveland Browns and Broncos may make a deal for left offensive tackle Joe Thomas, one of the best in the business. That would likely have to involve somehow moving the inactive Ryan Clady … and much more.

I don’t see either happening. I do, however, see a week and a half of healing and preparation for a bout with the suddenly reliable Philip Rivers and the Chargers. The Broncos will be better for it ... at this rate.


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