The Denver Broncos need to be worried about their defense a lot more than they should be celebrating Peyton Manning setting yet another NFL record, this time for most touchdown passes in a single season. So he has one more thing to show that he’s a better individual than Tom Brady. Winning playoff games, fair or not, is how quarterbacks are measured.
So a 37-13 win over the Houston Texans means that they win the AFC West thanks to the Colts beating the Chiefs. Now all that’s left is one final win so they’ll have home field advantage in both postseason games, but people should remember the Broncos were in the same situation last season, and messed up at home after the bye week against the Baltimore Ravens.
As for the game itself? The Texans have a good defense, and were in it until the final quarter, as Matt Schaub threw two more interceptions to his impressive resume this season – like two more nails in the coffin that contains his sinking chances of being a starting quarterback for anyone next season. The Texans have now lost 13 consecutive games, a new franchise record for a team that was picked by many to win the AFC when the season began.
The Broncos didn’t have Wes Welker, shut down until the playoffs, but it didn’t really matter. Manning, hell bent on breaking the record, finished with 400 passing yards (32-of-51) and four touchdown passes, now settling at 51, with a chance to improve on the record a week from now. The simply exploded in the fourth quarter, with the game being quite close (16-13) as the two teams entered the final 15 minutes. He found Eric Decker for two touchdowns and Julius Thomas for another one. All the Texans could do was watch Schaub throw his two interceptions in that final period.
Manning is now about chasing history. He has thrown for 5211 yards this season, third in NFL history for passing yards in a season, but needs 265 yards to tie Drew Brees, setting the mark with 5476 in 2011. That doesn’t sound like too much of a stretch – Manning has thrown more than that in 14 of his 15 games this season, which means it’s going to be quite difficult for him not to set yet another NFL seasonal passing record to his name.
He also stepped one game closer to another record which still belongs to Dan Marino, who has 13 games with at least 400 passing yards. Manning is only one game behind with 12, and it won’t be a surprise to anyone if he tries to go for the tying mark next week as well.
So while the Broncos are now mostly worried about the health of some players (Welker, Von Miller) and the record Manning can still achieve with them, the Houston Texas are on the other end of that scale, thinking about what went wrong this season just when the franchise was looking to become one of the more successful in the NFL, and if this one bad season means they start everything from scratch.