For those of you who may have missed, here were my “3 Way too Early Takeaways from Week 1..
In case you don’t want to read the entire thing, I’ll give you the “Spark Notes” version: the Colts suck, Denver’s offense sucks and the AFC East is the best division in football. I’ll start with Indy and then tackle the AFC East because I want to spend a little extra time on Mr. Chicken Parm over in Denver.
Let me begin by apologizing. Stating, “The Colts are Trash” really wasn’t particularly bold at all. Everyone and their mother knew that coming into the season. That was obvious, even to most casual fans. I mean, if you had any football knowledge whatsoever you knew that team had fatal flaws they failed to even remotely address in the offseason. Right?
Ten weeks later, is the AFC East the best division in football? It very well could be. The Pats, Jets, Bills and Dolphins have combined for 23 wins, which is tied with the NFC South (Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, New Orleans) for most among divisions. Obviously just the amount of wins is not the perfect stat, and the undefeated member of each division skews the numbers, but from top to bottom, the division stacks up pretty well. The worst team is Miami, whose record stands at 4-5, with 4 of those losses coming at the hands of fellow AFC East teams. Stats like these honestly say more about how bad the rest of the league is than anything else. We’ll get a better understanding of how “for real” the Bills and Jets are in the coming weeks…
Last, but certainly not least, here is an excerpt from my take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense back after Week 1:
Peyton Manning is COOKED. Like bad. Like so bad I feel bad. If he looks like this in September, what are we getting in November? Ryan Leaf? Archie Manning? Holy Smokes. When the snow falls?... Gary Kubiak now calls the shots in Denver and needs the vast majority of control on offense, effectively eliminating Peyton’s value of wearing two hats, QB and offensive coordinator.
Nailed this one, but I really don’t care about that. Instead, I want to focus on the difference between the national reaction to Brady’s “demise” last year after the loss in Kansas City, and Manning’s clear-cut downfall currently unfolding. The same bitter journalists and analysts who were battling for poll position with pitchforks outside the Brady residence last season, are now gearing up the apology machine for their hero Peyton. AGAIN. It’s unbelievable. Peyton effectively shredded the Packers just a few weeks ago (21-29, 340 yards) and everything was A-OK. No issues, nothing. Peyton was back! After throwing, I don’t know, 20 interceptions the last two weeks, all of the sudden his ribs hurt? Or is it his foot? Someone do a full body MRI quickly, we’ll find something! So when Peyton Manning throws the ball directly to the middle linebacker sitting in a soft zone, it’s because of his foot, so we’re not allowed to criticize him. Next time I miss five point blank layups in a rec league basketball game, I’ll make sure to let everyone know my knee was feeling sore. Funny thing is, Manning’s “health” for the rest of the season directly correlates to how well Brock Osweiler plays this Sunday…
What the media doesn’t get is that this is the inevitable “fairy tale” ending for their hero, and they’re failing to take it all in. In fact, this ending is even more “Peyton Manning” than the majority stakeholder in the Manning Hater Club could have ever wished for. His career has been defined by regular season brilliance and record setting statistics. He inarguably changed the game, not to mention redefined offenses and the quarterback position. Although, often shockingly conveniently overlooked, his career has also been defined by crumbling in big moments, backbreaking interceptions, and palpable postseason ineptitude, time and time again. Manning is 11-13 in the playoffs, with 9 of those losses being “one and dones” consisting predominantly of home field losses to inferior teams (For perspective only: Brady is 21-8 in the playoffs, with 9 AFC championship appearances). My question is, when Peyton breaks the all time yards record and follows it up by throwing four interceptions in a loss, are people actually surprised, or are they pretending to be? Hasn’t he been doing things like this his entire career?
I’ll promise you this: when Brady starts to slow/break down (in umm… 2030?), cue the national frenzy. No one will feel bad. Like I mentioned before, we got a small taste of that last season. Toxic animosity. Screw it though, I’d rather Tom be hated for what he is, than loved for what he’s not. You can have your pizza commercials, you can have your 20 million dollar contracts and you can certainly have your “get the hell out of the way after I throw an interception”. I’ll take my pay cut after pay cut. I’ll take my guy diving in front of middle linebackers on a pick.
At the end of the day, Peyton Manning’s lasting image will be with Hawaiian Luau flowers around his neck at the Pro Bowl chatting it up with Jim Nantz. Tom Brady’s? Oh, he’ll be holding up Lombardi Trophies.
Call me a homer, call me a hater, call me a Brady fan boy, call me what you want. Chances are there’s some credence there. Don’t call me wrong though, because then you’re probably just another apologist. Good luck finding a place in line.
By Niko Davos