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Manning, Broncos Stay Undefeated Against Raiders

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Quarterback Peyton Manning, in his second season in Denver, led the Broncos to a 37-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night. Improving the undefeated Broncos record to 3-0 and dropping the Raiders to 1-2.

That being said, the Raiders weren’t entirely hapless against the the Broncos in the mile-high city. Before leaving the game with a concussion late, quarterback Terrelle Pryor was 19-for-28 passing, with 281 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked three times, but at least he averaged 10-yards per completion.

Oakland’s rushing game was another story entirely. Veteran running back Darren McFadden, who was drafted No. 4 overall out of Arkansas in the 2008 NFL Draft, rushed for a dismal nine yards on 12 carries—averaging 0.8 yards per carry. Pryor averaged nine yards per carry, rushing four times for 36-yards.

Of course, silver linings aside for the Raiders, for the third consecutive week the story is all about Manning and the Broncos. There’s no question that they’re struggling on defense in the absence of Von Miller, allowing an average of 24 points per game against their first three opponents.

That won’t matter a bit if Manning keep performing at this level. On Monday he was darn near perfect at home against the Raiders, going 32-for-37 passing, with 374 total yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Which made 12 TDs on the season for Manning so far, one more than Tom Brady’s “record for the first three games, set in 2011.”

Many wondered how the season-ending surgery on Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Clady would impact his quarterback. Well so far, it looks like the answer is…it won’t. Although, with the meat of their schedule really coming in the next 6-8 games, it might be too soon to make a definitive declaration.

But it’s certainly not too soon to say that things are shaping up well for football fans in Denver. You don’t need a strength of schedule analysis to determine that either. Although…an official strength of schedule analysis will back up what is clearly visible with a quick glance of their remaining opponents.

It’s shaping up to be a career-defining season for Peyton Manning. He’s being handed regular-season success on a silver platter—which is something he’s never struggled for.

Meaning it’s truly Super Bowl (win) or bust for Manning. Winning a second championship will all but erase the regular season warrior status that has dogged him throughout his career. Anything short of that will only solidify that status in the minds of his critics.

So there’s no question: Manning’s season doesn’t really begin until January.

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