For unbeatens, surveying the road to 16-0
September, 30, 2013
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Kent Nishimura/Colorado Springs Gazette/MCT via Getty ImagesPeyton Manning and the Denver Broncos look unstoppable right now.The Denver Broncos are averaging 44.8 points per game during their 4-0 start. Their quarterback, Peyton Manning, has 16 touchdown passes without an interception. No team in the Broncos' 54-year history had exceeded 50 points in a game before Sunday, when the Broncos had 21 points, 18 first downs and 214 yards in the third quarter alone of their 52-20 victory over Philadelphia. With 179 points this season, the Broncos have topped the four-game totals for every team but the 1966 Dallas Cowboys.
Manning's Broncos and five other 2013 teams are a combined 22-0 heading into the "Monday Night Football" matchup between the 3-0 Miami Dolphins and 3-0 New Orleans Saints. Of course, late September is too early for Don Shula and the 1972 Dolphins to worry about their standing as the lone undefeated NFL champion. But with the Broncos having won 15 consecutive regular-season games, all of them by a touchdown or more, the time has come to scout the road ahead for Denver and the other 4-0 teams.
Which of these teams should like its chances best? We look ahead to project what awaits the Broncos, New England Patriots (4-0), Seattle Seahawks (4-0) and Kansas City Chiefs (4-0). Unexpected differences in remaining schedules help define a shifting landscape.
Seattle's easier road
The Seahawks entered this season facing the second-toughest road schedule based on 2012 regular-season records. They played the fifth-easiest schedule at home, where a good team should win regardless. The unusually tough schedule on the road, where margin for error is smaller, was one reason I thought the San Francisco 49ers were in better position, schedule-wise, to finish with a superior record in the NFC West. Nik Bonaddio and Keith Goldner of numberFire offered supporting evidence way back in April.