COMMENTARY | It started with seven Peyton Manning touchdown passes and 49 points in a season-opening rout of the defending Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens.
And ever since that warm September night, Manning and the Denver Broncos have been careening through the 2013 season at a record clip.
Broncos Country hardly needs a reminder, though, as they've been bombarded with weekly - even quarterly - pronouncements that the Orange and Blue have set a record for most (fill in the blank) through X number of games/weeks.
Still, those so-called "records" have merely served as game-broadcast fodder -- pace-setting barometers if you will. What about the true season standards - the actual, recognized, meaningful NFL records?
Well, we've selected 10 of the most hallowed team and quarterback single-season standards straight from the league's own NFL Record & Fact Book and assessed the likelihood of Manning and/or the Broncos claiming those marks by season's end.
Points For, Team
Record: 589 (New England Patriots, 2007)
Broncos have/need: 515/74
Chances: Should be no sweat. Denver -- which at 515, already has the 11th-most points in any season -- hasn't scored fewer than 27 points in any game all year and needs to only average 24.7 points per outing over the last three contests to get there.
Record: 75 (Patriots, 2007)
Chances: Consider it broken. The Broncos are averaging five TDs a game, and at that rate, would break the mark with a game to spare.
Total Yards, Team
Record: 7,474 (New Orleans Saints, 2011)
Chances: Gonna be close. Right now, the Broncos are pacing the league with an average of 465.6 yards per game, but will need to bump that up to 473.7. Two of their last three foes -- the Chargers and Raiders -- rank among the league's bottom half in yards allowed, while the 2-11 Texans, believe it or not, rank No. 2.
First Downs, Team
Record: 444 (Patriots, 2012)
Chances: Solid shot. After reeling off a franchise single-game record 39 first downs in dismantling the Titans, the Broncos are averaging 27.9 per outing, which would give them the mark at 447.
Offensive Plays, Team
Record: 1,199 (Patriots, 1994)
Chances: Likely will fall short. To get there, Manning and Co. would need to average close to 80 plays an outing over their final three games. It's doable, but right now, the Broncos league-leading per-game play average stands at 73.8.
Point Differential, Team
Record: +315 (Patriots, 2007)
Chances: Not happening. To translate: That plus-145 means the Broncos need to win each of their three remaining contests by an average of 48.3 points. Uh, next please.
Pass Completions, Individual
Record: 468 (Drew Brees, 2011)
Chances: Not very likely. Manning would need to average 34 completions a game over his final three outings. He did have 39 last week vs. the Titans, but that was only one of nine career games with as many as 34.
Completion Percentage, Individual
Record: 71.23 (Brees, 2011)
Chances: Out of range. I'm no math major, but in trying to estimate Peyton's probability here, I took his average passing attempts per game (42), multiplied by three and estimated that he'd have to complete 108 of those 126 attempts (85.7 percent) down the stretch to bump his percentage into record territory. Yeah, that's a little much to ask, even of the league's likely first five-time MVP.
Passing Yards, Individual
Record: 5,476 (Brees, 2011)
Chances: Very doable. Manning is averaging 347.8 yards per game and as long as the Broncos don't wrap up the AFC's No. 1 seed in the next two weeks -- thus increasing the likelihood of some Week 17 snaps off for the 37-year-old QB -- he's well on pace to be the first player in NFL history to top 5,500 passing yards in a season.
Passing TDs, Individual
Record: 50 (Tom Brady, 2007)
Chances: Mr. Brady, prepare for second place. So three games for Peyton to toss five touchdowns? No math degrees needed here.
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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- Peyton Manning