By Shawn S. Lealos
The Dallas Cowboys have been up and down this season, scoring big wins over the New York Giants and St. Louis Rams but falling to the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers. In two of those games, the Cowboys gave up over 400 passing yards, once in a win (Giants) and once in a loss (Chargers). None of those teams possess the fire power of the Cowboys next opponent.
Quite honestly, there isn’t a team in the NFL that can match up to the Denver Broncos offense.
Leading the way is Peyton Manning, a quarterback proving this season that he might be the best to ever play the position. Through five games, Manning has thrown for 1,470 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is on pace for 5,880 yards and 64 touchdowns. He also hasn’t thrown an interception yet this season.
To put that in perspective, the current NFL record for passing yards is 5,476 by Drew Brees in 2011 and the touchdown record is 50 by Tom Brady in 2007. Manning is not only on pace to shatter those records, but at this rate, it is almost a guarantee. Before this season, Manning’s highest numbers saw him throw for 4,700 yards and 49 touchdowns.
Part of the reason for his success is his receiver corps, possibly the best starting duo in the history of the NFL.
Wes Welker made his name in New England, where he caught over 100 passes in five of the last six seasons. This season, he has 26 receptions for 266 yards and six touchdowns. He only needs three more touchdown receptions to break his own season high. He is also on pace for his sixth 100-reception season, along with 24 touchdowns, which is more than he caught the last three seasons added together.
Opposite Welker is Demaryius Thomas. The four year starter already has 29 receptions for 393 yards and four touchdowns. That puts him on pace for 116 receptions for 1,572 yards and 16 touchdowns. While neither Thomas nor Welker are on pace to catch Marvin Harrison’s NFL record 143 receptions, which he set with Manning throwing him the ball, the two are combined to catch more passes (220) than any receiver duo since the Detroit Lions in 1995.
The running game is not as solid for Denver, with Knowshon Moreno leading the way with 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns through four games. However, Dallas has a solid rush defense, so it is the passing game that will rule this game.
It is also the same for Dallas, as Tony Romo will have a lot of solid looks against a Denver Broncos pass defense ranked 30th in the NFL. Yes, Denver is scoring a lot of points against rival teams, but they have to because their defense is also giving up a lot of points as well. Joe Flacco and Eli Manning both threw for 362 yards against Denver, while scrambling quarterbacks Michael Vick and Terrelle Pryor put up around 250 yards each.
That is something Dallas will have to focus on, which is disappointing because the running game is what they need to work to have success. However, Denver’s rush defense ranks first in the NFL, limiting LeSean McCoy to 73 yards, Darren McFadden to nine, and Ray Rice to 36. DeMarco Murray won’t see any holes in this defensive front.
Overall, the Denver Broncos have looked like the most dominant team in the NFL this season while the Dallas Cowboys have looked like the most inconsistent. Dallas will need a lot to go their way if they want a chance in Week 5.
The Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos game kicks off at 4:25 p.m. EST on Sunday, Oct. 6.
For more Cowboys news and updates, visit Cowboys Central.
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.