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Denver Broncos' High-Scoring Start Doesn't Guarantee a Super Finish

Many of the NFL's Best Offensive Teams Failed to Win a Super Bowl

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The touchdown passes and points have come fast and furious for Peyton Manning and the undefeated Denver Broncos so far this season.

An avalanche of admiration, accolades and Super Bowl predictions has followed suit, and, hey, that comes with the territory when you throw an NFL-record 12 TD passes and score the second-most points (127) in league history through three games.

By the way, Manning just hit Thomas -- no, not Julius, Demaryius this time -- for six more points as you were reading this.

But even if Manning and the Broncos stay on course, realize the "on-pace-to" scenarios and finish with the best offenses in regular-season history, will all the gaudy numbers add up to a championship?

Sure -- it's pretty much guaranteed -- but we're only talking fantasy football where stats reign supreme.

In reality, though, piles of regular-season points and scoring tosses seldom portend a Lombardi-themed victory parade.

That may be somewhat hard to digest in these offensive-minded times, but once again, it's time to study up on your NFL history:

* Since the start of the Super Bowl era (1966 onward), only 10 of the 47 teams which have produced the most regular-season points have gone on to to win the title that same season. The last team to pull off that double-double was the 2009 Saints, but the one before that dates back 14 years, pre-millennium, to the '99 Rams. And, yes, the '97 Broncos are on this list, which begins with the 1971 Cowboys.

* When it comes to the 29 teams in the Super Bowl era who have averaged 30 points a game -- a club Manning and the Broncos joined last year -- roughly a third of them (10) made it to the Big Game and only five (the '09 Saints, '99 Rams, the '98 Broncos, the '94 49ers and the '91 Redskins) managed to win it all. Still, it stands that none of the eight highest-scoring teams in NFL history -- a list ranging from the 2007 Patriots (36.8 points per game) to the '67 Raiders (33.4) -- proved to be championship material.

* Then we come to the quarterbacks. With Manning leading the league and well on pace to shatter Tom Brady's single-season TD pass record (50), we find that only seven QBs who have led the NFL in TD passes have gone to finish as Super Bowl champions in the same season. The Saints' Drew Brees (34 TD passes in 2009) is the most recent member of this list, which also includes Manning (31 TDs in 2006).

* Just as striking, we looked at the 22 seasons for QBs who have finished a season with 35 or more TD passes since 1966. Only eight of those 22 made it to the Super Bowl, with only three -- The Rams' Kurt Warner in '99, the Packers' Brett Favre in '96 and the 49ers' Steve Young in '94 -- emerging as year-end champs. And, yes, Manning (49 TDs in 2004 and 37 last season) accounted for two of the 19 QB seasons which came up short.

So what does this foretell for Manning and the 2013 Broncos?

Nothing definitive.

A big-time offensive regular season followed by a confetti shower certainly isn't of the question -- for familiarity, the '97 Broncos and Manning's '06 season are proof of that -- but there's a lesson here amid the trends from NFL seasons past.

While piling up eye-popping stats and record numbers can certainly complement a championship run, they far from guarantee one.

And that's something to keep in mind while reveling in the Broncos' record-setting offensive start.

Ken Pomponio has spent the past 25 years as a sports journalist who has been published extensively in print and online. He's been an avid follower of the Denver sports scene since early childhood, and can be found on Twitter @kenpomp.

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