Another record now resides on Peyton Manning's ever growing resume. Most career touchdown passes by any quarterback in history. That record of 508, set four years ago by Brett Favre, seemed almost inevitable to fall given the scoring friendly trends in the modern NFL. Manning's record, currently at 510, will not likely be broken any time soon. When Manning threw TD 509, Favre tweeted his congratulations, with "#onto600". Some folks seem to think that was a small joke about an unreachable goal. I most certainly don't. Since coming to the Denver Broncos, Peyton has averaged 2.9 touchdowns per game (a pace he's actually slightly better than this year with 19 in six games.) If he continues at that level, he will score another 29 touchdowns this regular season and end the year at 539. It seems all the rage to speculate when Manning will retire, but I'd rather rely on what we know, and that's the fact that Manning still has 2 years left on his contract with Denver. Should he play those two years, and fall backwards to his overall seasonal average of 33 TDs per year, he will still end his career with 600+ passing touchdowns.
Another thing to consider is this. The overwhelming majority of elite quarerbacks had their best and strongest years early or near the mature middle of their careers behind center. Manning, unbelievably, is getting stronger towards the end. Obviously, he shattered the single season TD mark last year with 55, and at 38 years old is threatening the 50 TD benchmark again. Andrew Luck might, *might*, be able to match Manning's earlier production, but it is highly questionable that he, like Manning, will have his most productive years late in crafting his HOF credentials. Favre played 19 years in the NFL and set the mark of 508. Manning has played 15 and a half years (sitting out 2011). I haven't a doubt that other quarterbacks might match Favre's durability and/or his longevity. But to match the rate of production that Manning has displayed is highly doubtful.
My picks last week came very close to being a disaster, though I am still well ahead of any of the ESPN experts. Without a blocked fieldgoal, the Jets would have beaten the Pats. Without last minute touchdowns, Washington, the Lions and the Bills would have added to my misery. One has to admire the guts and confidence that Kyle Orton showed, taking Buffalo down the field against a fired up Vikings squad. One has to feel somewhat sorry for the Saints. Until Detroit's last drive, the Saints D played at least what passed for a quality game. But Stafford and company made that last touchdown look just too easy. To contrast the Thriller weekend were some ugly blowouts, especially for the two Ohio teams. I still have some confidence in the Browns (based solely on that defense) and next to none left in the Bengals. Seriously, Indiianapolis flat out embarrassed them. That written, the Browns actually face a tough go this week in Oakland. Derek Carr is the best rookie QB of the season, by far. Oakland *can* score points, even against a superior defense. If Cleveland can't get thier offense moving, even against the battered and Woodley-less Raiders, than they will come out of the Bay area as laughing-stocks.
The game of this week is actually tonight, San Diego at Denver. Color me cocky, but I don't think it's going to be the epic offensive struggle many expect. Rivers is playing the best I've ever seen him, comfortable, smart and releasing quickly. BUT, he hasn't faced a tandem like Von Miller and Damarcus Ware ... yet. The Chargers have had success against Manning and the Broncos by controlling time of possession with the run and forcing multiple 3 and outs. This year, the Chargers don't have Danny Woodhead (key to their success in Denver last year.) Brandon Oliver is averaging less than 46 yards per game, facing the second best rushing defense in the NFL. Combine that with notable questions at Cornerback (Branden Flowers is out and Verrett is highly questionable to play.) Freeney is drooling at the opportunity to sack Manning, but he missed his oportunity last year when both he and Ryan Clady were injured. Not so much tonight. Basically, it's up to Corey Luiget to force the 4th downs that San Diego will desperately need against the Broncos offense. I just don't see the interior of the line dictating the game in that way.
San Diego (5-2) at Denver (5-1) - Broncos
Detroit (5-2) at Atlanta (2-5) - Lions
Minnesota (2-5) at Tampa Bay (1-5) - Vikings
Buffalo (4-3) at New York Jets (1-6) - Bills
Chicago (3-4) at New England (5-2) - Patriots
Seattle (3-3) at Carolina (3-3-1) - Seahawks
Miami (3-3) at Jacksonville (1-6) - Dolphins
Baltimore (5-2) - Cincinnati (3-2-1) - Ravens
Houston (3-4) at Tennessee (2-5) - Texans
St. Louis (2-4) at Kansas City (3-3) - Chiefs
Philadelphia (5-1) at Arizona (5-1) - Eagles
Indianapolis (5-2) at Pittsburgh (4-3) - Colts
Oakland (0-6) at Cleveland (3-3) - Browns
Green Bay (5-2) at New Orleans (2-4) - Packers
Washington (2-5) at Dallas (6-1) - Cowboys
Byes: New York Giants and San Fransisco
Last Week's Score: 11 - 4, 73% Overall: 69 - 37, 65%