Peyton Manning has thrown 15 touchdown passes — an average of three per game — in 2014. He is currently sitting at 506 career touchdown passes, two behind Brett Favre’s all-time mark of 508. At his current pace, Manning should break this record on Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers. This got us thinking: Who is the most likely target to haul in touchdown pass No. 509 for Manning?
To determine these odds, I considered total targets, receptions, and touchdown catches in 2014. With that being said, here is a look at the five favorites to catch Peyton’s record-breaking 509th career touchdown pass, in descending order.
All statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
5. Jacob Tamme, 3% chance
2014 stats: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 2 touchdown catches
Tamme is a bit of an afterthought in the Broncos’ offense, but he is a threat inside of the red zone and around the goal line.
4. Wes Welker, 12% chance
2014 stats: 19 targets, 14 receptions, zero touchdown catches
Welker has been targeted on 9.9% of Manning’s pass attempts in 2014 while catching 11% of Manning’s completions this year. He may have zero touchdown catches in 2014, but Welker remains a serious red zone threat for the Denver Broncos.
3. Emmanuel Sanders, 20% chance
2014 Stats: 48 targets, 35 receptions, zero touchdown catches
Sanders has been targeted on 25.1% of Manning’s pass attempts in 2014 and has hauled in 27.6% of his completions. He may have zero touchdowns receptions so far in 2014, but he is undoubtedly one of Manning’s favorite targets and is a legitimate threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.
2. Julius Thomas, 30% chance
2014 stats: 30 targets, 24 receptions, 9 touchdown catches
Thomas’s 30 targets are good for 15.7% of Manning’s pass attempts, and his receptions represent 18.9% of Manning’s completions in 2014. Thomas has hauled in nine of Manning’s 2014 touchdown passes (60%), five more than the next-closest total.
1. Demaryius Thomas, 35% chance
2014 stats: 55 targets, 31 receptions, 4 touchdown catches
Thomas is Manning’s favorite target, and they have regained their 2013 chemistry in recent weeks. Thomas has been targeted on 28.8% of Manning’s pass attempts and has caught 24.4% of Manning’s completions in 2014. His four touchdown receptions are good for 26.7% of Manning’s 2014 touchdown passes.