Tag Archives: Indianapolis Colts

BRONCOS-RAVENS PREVIEW

Today’s Broncos-Ravens matchup is one of quarterbacks who are at polar opposite ends of the “pressure-spectrum.”  On one hand you’ve got Canton-bound, all-world Peyton Manning who, if he retired today, before this game’s 4:30pm kickoff, would still be destined to be in the discussion for one of the game’s all-time greats.  Manning’s legacy has already been defined, now he is just looking to add some hardware to his resume. Due simply to the fact that at this time last year we were wondering not when but if he would ever play again, Manning is the quarterback with the least amount of pressure to win this weekend.

Then on the other end of the pressure-spectrum you’ve got Baltimore’s Joe Flacco who might be the most accomplished fifth year quarterback in NFL history to never be selected to the Pro Bowl or play in a Super Bowl.

Flacco has set NFL records for playoff wins by a rookie (2), most regular season wins by a quarterback in his first five seasons (54), and is the only quarterback in NFL history to win a postseason game in each of his first five seasons.  But despite all that, the self-proclaimed “best” quarterback in the NFL is without a contract for the 2013 season which makes him the only starting quarterback left in the postseason who is playing for his next paycheck.

Unfortunately for Flacco, as an NFL quarterback, until you have proved you can do “it” (and by “it” I mean win, or at least make, the Super Bowl), you are not defined by what you have done, but rather by what you haven’t.  Furthermore, fans of the “ADD  Generation” do not remember circumstances; they remember results.  They don’t care if Lee Evans dropped the game winning touchdown in last year’s AFC Championship game which would have sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl, nor the fact that Billy Cundiff subsequently missed an easy 32-yard field goal which would have tied the game.  No, all that gets remembered is Flacco lost, again, and is now 0-2 when a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line.  Right or wrong, that’s the way it is.

Finally, there are 42 other combined starters for the Broncos and Ravens who aren’t named Manning or Flacco that will also have a say in how this game ends.  For my money, there are four key factors which determine the outcome of any football game.

1)      Win on third down

2)      Protect your quarterback

3)      Be the least penalized team

4)      Win the battle of field position

That’s it, winning and losing in the NFL in a nutshell.  The Denver Broncos hold the edge in all four of those factors.  On offense they convert 45.1% of their 3rd downs while Baltimore converts at only a 36.9% rate.  On defense, the Broncos held their opponents to a conversion rate of 30.6% which led the NFL whereas the Ravens 35.8% was eighth.  Peyton Manning was only sacked 21 times compared to Flacco’s 35, and, as a bonus, the Broncos’ D led the NFL with 52 sacks whereas Baltimore’s 37 had them in a three-way tie for 15th.  Denver was flagged only 100 times, versus Baltimore’s 121, and in 16 fewer punt returns than Baltimore (33 versus 49) Denver amassed more yards (445 versus 404).

What does this all mean?  It means that despite all the hub-a-ba-loo regarding Peyton Manning having never won a playoff game in which the temperature was below 40 degrees at kickoff (0-3), I expect the Denver Broncos to win and win big today (and by big I mean by more than the nine point spread which they currently are) and for the controversy regarding just how valuable Joe Flacco is as an NFL quarterback to continue to be determined another day.

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Peyton Manning Prediction

Here is my take on the “Peyton Decision”.  What you will read here are my own thoughts/observations/opinions not  some regurgitated information I got from ESPN (or anywhere else) that I’m trying to pass off on as my own. 

If we assume that he only wants to play for a team that has a chance at winning and making the playoffs, then  it makes no sense for him to sign with a team like the Redskins. Who even with the addition of Peyton, would still be at best only 3rd in their own division (behind the Super Bowl champion NY Giants and Dallas).  And i say even with him on the ‘Skins, the Eagles would still be a slightly better overall team (especially now that they have a real defensive coordinator).  So there’s no way Peyton is going to sign with a team that is only 4th best in their own division and thus have no shot at making the playoffs.  Plus, you don’t sign him to run your offense.  You sign Peyton to run Peyton’s offense.  And I don’t see legendary egomaniac and control freak Mike Shanahan getting on board with that. Especially when his own kid is the offensive coordinator.  So cross them off the list.

Next, the Jets…Never gonna happen. Down the line all of the Mannings, Peyton, Eli and Archie, can’t stand all the Peyton-Eli hype and don’t like answering questions about it.  Why would Peyton then choose to play in New York, in an outdoor stadium, and deal with that type of media attention day in and day out?  Don’t see it happening,  just wishful thinking by goddamn Jets fans.

So if we agree that Peyton only wants to play for a winner, or at least a team that with his addition has a shot at winning, then I say the best place for him to go is the NFC West.  Which makes Seattle and Arizona  the top likely destinations. 

 I say Seattle, and here’s why. After a 2-6 start to the season they rebounded to win 5 out of their last 8 to finish the year 7-9 despite the fact that Tarvaris Jackson handling the bulk of the snaps under center. They do have a good-great running game with Marshawn Lynch (1,204yds 12td) and an adequate enough offensive line to protect him.  They also boast a talented group of young receivers (S.Rice D.Baldwin G.Tate) and a young aggressive defense.  And if we assume that Peyton and R.Wayne are going to be a package deal, then that makes their group of WR’s as a whole maybe top 5 in the league. 

But mostly the reason why I think Peyton winds up in Seattle is because of their head coach, Pete Carroll.  To me it’s the perfect player-coach fit. I think Pete Carroll is a smart enough, and more importantly reasonable enough, guy to know his limitations and what he’s capable of.  I think he’s aware of his reputation as being a sub par head coach on the professional level and will recognize this as his best opportunity to do something about it.  I think he has the right temperament/disposition to let Peyton come in and run the show on offense knowing that if it works out he (Carroll) will look like a genius and completely rewrite his NFL legacy and if it doesn’t, he’s no worse for the wear.

Plus, San Fran won that division last year.  I know they had a great season and I was personally rooting for them to win just about every game they played (except the NFC championship against the Giants of course) but does anyone really think “dynasty” when they look at the ‘Niners?  I know I don’t.  I don’t see them as the cream of the crop in the NFC west for years to come, so the Seahawks with Peyton could easily wind up winning that division next year.

If not the Seattle then I say Arizona for much of the same reasons as Seattle.  They have a better defense and Larry Fitzgerald would be the most talented WR that Peyton ever played with.  I know this is one of the favorites among the “experts” but I give Seattle the edge purely based on the Pete Carroll factor.

Next up Miami.  Being a Miami fan in no way would I be disappointed to see him in the orange and teal.  I just think new head coach (and former Packer’s OC) Joe Philbin wants to bring in his guy, Matty Flynn, who’s a full decade younger than Peyton.  I have a hard time rating my QB wish list.  IF Philbin knows enough about Flynn to definitively say he is the “real deal” (and he better know, either way) then I rank Flynn 1a and Manning a close 1b. 

Next on the list is my sleeper.  One I haven’t heard mentioned anywhere else, the Tennessee Titans.  They have one of the best rb’s in the league (C.Johnson) and always have a solid O-line and defense. I know they took Locker in the first round last year but if everyone is in agreement that at 36 Manning has at most 3-4 years left in the tank, then they should have no problem sitting him ( Locker) so he can learn from one of the game’s all-time greats.  Again, it mostly boils down to the fact that with the addition of Peyton, the AFC South is a winnable division.  And, don’t discount the fact that Manning would be able to beat up on the Colts twice a year for the foreseeable future while they rebuild.

So there you have it, my Peyton Manning sweepstakes analysis.  Agree or disagree?

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