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BMW Ultimate Performance: How the Broncos are setting the pace

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --At the quarter-pole of the season, it's hard to imagine the Broncos could be in a better spot.

Sure, you'd like to be 4-0 with no injuries, but no one will quibble with the record, or the fact that the Broncos have won three of those games by double-digit margins, or a collective plus-39 scoring margin in the fourth quarter.

There isn't a natural pause after four games; for the Broncos, that comes after next week's short week leading into the Thursday night game against the San Diego Chargers. But it's still an apt time to check out the pace the Broncos are on, because, well, math.

"You do break it down in quarters. You've got 16 games and break it down: the first quarter is four games," said wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. "If you can do math, that's how it is."

So let's break out the abacus for a few moments and see what kind of paces the Broncos are setting …

OLB Von Miller:His 5.5 sacks have him on a 22-sack pace that would set a Broncos record, surpassing his 18.5-sack total of 2012, and would also put him just a half-sack shy of Michael Strahan's league-record total, amassed in 2001.

DE Derek Wolfe:With four sacks, he's on pace for 16, a remarkable number for a 3-4 defensive end who lines up at the three- and five-technique spots depending on the situation. The Broncos haven't had a 3-4 defensive end rack up double-digit sacks since Rulon Jones in 1986, and in 21 previous 3-4 Broncos seasons, Jones is the only full-time defensive lineman to post double-digit sacks, with four such campaigns: 1980 (11.5, when sacks were still an unofficial statistic), 1984 (11), 1985 (10) and 1986 (13.50)

WR Emmanuel Sanders:With 25 catches for 293 yards, he's on a 100-catch, 1,172-yard pace -- which puts him on track for a second season with triple-digit receptions in three years if he can maintain that pace. Sanders hopes to join Rod Smith, Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshall as the only players in Broncos history with multiple 100-reception seasons.


WR Demaryius Thomas: **He's on an 84-catch, 1,328-yard pace. If he maintains that pace, he would earn his fifth career 1,300-yard season, something only four receivers in NFL history have ever done: Jerry Rice, Torry Holt, Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison.

RB C.J. Anderson:He's on pace for 1,008 rushing yards and 1,300 yards from scrimmage overall. If he hits 1,100 yards from scrimmage, he would join Terrell Davis, Floyd Little, Knowshon Moreno, Otis Armstrong, Bobby Humphrey and Clinton Portis as the only Broncos running backs with multiple seasons of at least 1,100 yards from scrimmage.

Broncos quarterbacks:With eight touchdown passes between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, the Broncos are on pace for 32 touchdown passes. That would be the fifth-most in Broncos history, trailing only the 1998, 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons.

But more relevant -- and more promising, given the larger sample size -- is Siemian's 99.6 rating through three and a half games of work. Just three other quarterbacks in Broncos history have ever had a season-long rating of greater than 95.0 with at least 100 attempts: Bubby Brister (1998, a 99.0 rating on 131 attempts), Brian Griese (2000, a 102.9 rating on 336 attempts) and Peyton Manning (a greater-than-100.0 rating each season from 2012-14).


Takeaways: **Thanks in part to Aqib Talib's three interceptions, Broncos are averaging two per game -- five interceptions and three fumble recoveries, putting them on pace for 32. The Broncos haven't had more than 30 takeaways since 2005, and since 2006, teams have averaged 25.8 takeaways per 16 games. That average is even lower in the last five seasons, at 24.5 per 16 games.

Sacks:With 17 through four games, the Broncos are on pace for 68, which would be the highest total for any NFL team since the 1980s. (The 1989 Vikings are the last team to have at least 68 sacks.) The Broncos' record of 57 was set in 1984; last year's total of 52 sacks was the third-best in Broncos history.

But you must take that pace -- along with all the numbers here, really -- with a shaker's worth of salt, because many teams have been in this spot. Per, 45 teams have had at least 17 sacks in their first four games since the sack became an official statistic in 1982 -- including last year's Broncos, who had 18 sacks in Weeks 1-4.

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