With 18 receptions against San Diego, Brandon Marshall not only tied Tom Fears for the second most catches in a game in NFL history, but he also moved into the league lead in catches on the season, despite having missed the first week.
Only the Texans' Andre Johnson has a legitimate chance to pass him (assuming you count the makeup game as a week 2 game).
This brings to issue Marshall's goal of 140 catches for the season. If you're wondering, Marvin Harrison currently holds the record for most receptions in a single season with 143, so Marshall predicting a 140 catch season is rather akin to Selvin Young saying that his goal is to rush for 2000 yards this season. Indeed, most experts- and even most of us, probably thought that Marshall's goal was much more likely to be based in fantasy- like Young's- than reality.
Guess what? They (we) were wrong. Marshall IS going to break the record. here's why:
1. Those of us who watched the Beast during the preseason came to the conclusion that he flat out couldn't be single covered. Marshall lent a lot of weight to this argument by thoroughly abusing Antonio Cromartie- a pro bowl corner- throughout the game.
2. Assuming that Defensive Coordinators come to the same conclusion that I just did, you have to assume they'll respond by throwing double coverage Marshall's way. Fortunately for Marshall, his absence allowed Eddie Royal to serve a warning to Defensive Coordinators around the league as to what will happen if they pay too much attention to Marshall. In case you've forgotten, Eddie Royal showed up a pro bowl corner himself- namely DeAngelo Hall- to the tune of 9 catches for 146 yards. Need more convincing that it would be a mistake to over cover Marshall? How about Tony Scheffler, who has 136 yards receiving so far. Don't underestimate the importance of having a good #2 receiver. Harrison had his record breaking season in 2002- for anyone paying attention, that was Reggie Wayne's second season in the NFL.
3. Through the entire preseason, and the first two weeks of the season, the Bronco's starting O-line has allowed exactly one sack- and that on the Cutler quasi-fumble at the end of the Chargers game, which really wasn't a sack, per se. As long as the O-line keeps giving Cutler time, he'll be able to keep finding B-Marsh, and B-Marsh will keep racking up receptions. Even more promising is that of the Bronco's remaining 14 games, only 6 of those are against teams that were in the upper half of the league in sacks last year. Even better, two of those 6 are against the Chiefs, who traded away Jared Allen during the off season. So don't expect the protection Cutler is getting to fall off.
4. For those of you keeping score (in other words, all of you)- the Broncos are averaging 40 points per game, 325 passing yards per game, 37 passing attempts per game, and 26 completions per game. Those numbers come against just anybody, either. Both the Chargers and the raiders have strong secondaries- last season the raiders ranked 12th in the league in opponent QB Rating, while the Chargers ranked 1st. The Broncos pass offense looks like it's still picking up steam- not like it's about to taper off.
5. Don't expect the Broncos to go more run heavy during the rest of the season, either. Both the raiders and the Chargers had big questions about their run defenses coming into their respective games- and neither team showed much ability to stop the Denver run. If anything, expect Denver to pass the ball more as it faces stouter run defenses and weaker secondaries.
14 games from now, expect Brandon Marshall- B-Marsh- the Beast- Baby T.O. to have another title; NFL record holder.