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Eagle Eye: Stopping Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning's Broncos are averaging 487 yards per game, while Michael Vick and the Eagles are averaging 462 yards a contest. (USA Today Images)
There’s never been a matchup like it. Never.
On Sunday afternoon, in the rarefied air in Denver, something will happen that’s never happened in NFL history.
The Eagles are averaging 462 yards of offense per game. The Broncos are averaging 487 yards per game.
And never in the 94-year history of the National Football League have two teams amassing yards at that rate met this late in the season.
There’s only been one game in NFL history -- and you’ll probably remember it -- in which both teams came in averaging at least 460 yards per game.
That game involved some familiar names. Such as Terrell Owens, DeSean Jackson, Donovan McNabb, Brent Celek and Jason Avant.
But that was the second week of the 2008 season, so each team had played only one game.
More on that later.
First, let’s look at what the Eagles and Broncos have accomplished so far this year.
The Broncos are 3-0 and, led by future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, have piled up 1,460 yards -- 510 against the Ravens, 414 against the Giants and 536 Monday night against the Raiders.
That’s the fourth-most yards in NFL history after three games, behind only the 2011 Patriots (1,621 yards), 1998 49ers (1,599) and 2000 Rams (1,518).
The Eagles are 1-2, but in their first three games under new head coach Chip Kelly they’ve amassed 1,396 yards of offense, which is eighth-most in NFL history and only 64 fewer than the Broncos.
That's 443 vs. the Redskins, 511 vs. the Chargers and 431 last Thursday night vs. the Chiefs. They’re only the sixth team in NFL history to net 430 or more yards of offense in each of the first three games of a season.
The only other meeting between two teams averaging 460 yards per game came in Week 2 of the 2008 season.
On opening day of 2008, the Cowboys netted 487 yards in a win over the Browns in Cleveland, and the same day, the Eagles opened their season with a 38-3 win over the Rams at the Linc, netting 522 yards.
A week later, the Cowboys beat the Eagles, 41-37, at the old Texas Stadium (with neither team reaching 400 yards).
Six Eagles who played in that game -- Celek, Jackson, Avant, Todd Herremans, Trent Cole and Jon Dorenbos -- will be on the field Sunday when the Eagles and Broncos meet in the first game in NFL history to match two teams averaging at least 460 yards this late in the season.
But if it's not enough that both offenses are among the most high-powered ever assembled, it’s equally important to note that both pass defenses are among the worst in NFL history through three games.
So this game isn’t historic only on the offensive side.
The Broncos are allowing 327 net passing yards per game (15th-worst in NFL history), and the Eagles are giving up 323 net passing yards (19th-worst in NFL history).
And, yes, this is only the second game in NFL history pitting two teams allowing at least 320 net passing yards per game.
The first -- not surprisingly -- was just last year, when the Redskins (allowing 337 per game) met the Buccaneers (allowing 353) in Tampa, also in Week 4.
(Note that net passing yards equal opposing passing yardage minus sack yards.)
The Las Vegas bookmakers have set the over-under at 58 for Eagles-Broncos Sunday.
These teams might hit that by halftime.