Manning magic
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It took less than 60 minutes of play into the NFL season to determine which team has the most dynamic passing offense in the league.

It doesn't reside in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers, New Orleans with Drew Brees or New England with Tom Brady, though each of those teams will have its time in the sun.

No, the No.1 passing offense will reside in Denver with quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

The addition of two-time first-team All-Pro Wes Welker to an already solid wide receiving corps which includes Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Andre Caldwell demolished the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, 49-27, Thursday night (the 49 points were the most points given up by a Ravens defense in the franchise's 19-year history).

Manning looked as if he had been throwing passes to Welker all his life as the two hooked up early and often for nine catches (11 targets) and two touchdowns.

And the production from Welker and tight end Julius Thomas (making just his second career start) in the middle of the field opened the door for Demaryius Thomas and the outside guys to excel in the third and fourth quarters.

Manning took advantage of a Ravens defense that is in flux with numerous offseason changes to post 462 passing yards and an NFL record-tying seven touchdowns.

One game into the Week 1 schedule and there is already no need to wonder who will be the TSN Fantasy Player of the Week.

Manning is now over one year removed from his four neck surgeries and talk of his never playing football again. No longer do we hear about his "weak" passing arm. Given a couple more healthy years at Mile High, he's likely to break Brett Favre's career marks for passing yards (71,838) and touchdown passes (508).

Manning will likely have to continue to throw the ball a lot this season as the Denver defense may not be as dominant as it was last season, when it yielded just 289 points (18.1 ppg). The loss of Elvis Dumervil, the suspension of Von Miller and an early season injury to Champ Bailey is likely to mean the defense will play at a less-effective level.

Meanwhile, the running game remains up in the air. The team is missing Willis McGahee from a year ago team, but has three backs in Ronnie Hillman, rookie Montee Ball and veteran Knowshon Moreno who have some talent, but also have deficiencies. None of the three has the ability to take over an offense.

Thursday night, the Broncos featured Moreno because he is the best at protecting the quarterback ... their bread and butter. That will likely be the strategy for most of the season.

So there you have it.

One of the league's best quarterbacks loaded with superior receiving talent. A head coach who knows protecting his passer is the No. 1 priority. And a bigger need to pass the ball to produce more points than a season ago when he still managed to throw for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns.

In the real and fantasy worlds, that's the perfect blueprint for putting together the No. 1 passing offense.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.