Let’s talk for a second about Peyton Manning. We’re doing this because he deserves it. Because there’s a good chance he threw his last pass ever in a professional football game on Sunday in a 24-13 loss that felt more like 44-3.
Only for a second, though; Peyton Manning, if rumors of his death are not, in fact, greatly exaggerated, walked off the Mile High Stadium as the greatest quarterback I have ever seen—so far. His numbers—nearly 70,000 passing yards and the most passing touchdowns of all time—only tell part of the story, as it does for every great General to ever rise and fall since the dawn of time. Sure, Alexander nearly conquered the world before he turned 33, but just imagine what he could have done had he lived just another 25 years?
That was the Peyton Manning story. Imagine if he came through in this game, or that game, or what if Bledsoe never got hurt?
Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback I have ever seen, and will continue to be so until Andrew Luck continues to be Andrew Luck.
Let’s talk about Andrew Luck for many, many seconds. Watching Andrew Luck pick apart two great defenses—for that is what the Bengals and the Broncos were hyped to be—must be the 21st century equivalent to watching Picasso paint. Every decision he made was the correct one, including his two picks, which worked out to be two so-so punts.
Let’s talk about the fact that Andrew Luck has thrown for more yards (1,703) in his first five playoff games than anyone in the history of the NFL. And let’s also mention that, should Luck play 17 seasons, the same number Manning just completed, he’s on pace to blow his passing yards out of the water (73,423 for Luck to 69,691 for Manning), a number that would move him above Brett Favre’s number of 71,838 for most all time.
Let’s talk about the fact that, in order to stop Andrew Luck, defenses need to account for his incredible running abilities, demonstrated in the Bengals game when he scrambled for 18 yards, a crucial first down that kept the Colts driving.
And, finally, let’s mention this: the Colts are a bad football team. Take Andrew Luck off that team, and it is headed for a 6-10 season. They are a deeply flawed team, with no running game, with no secondary, with no pass protection, and—well, you understand. Insert Quarterback X and the Colts are looking to draft Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota come the draft this April.
Or, insert 2014-2015 Peyton Manning. Switch the quarterbacks of those two teams and imagine the possibilities. The Broncos would not only still be playing, but they would be hosting the Patriots next weekend. They would have won at least 14 games in the regular season.
And the Colts? Well, they’d be sitting at home, looking to draft the next Andrew Luck.