Should Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyont Manning remain healthy, he could end up with nearly every passing record there is. It drives Manning on a daily basis to be the best he can be and to achieve another Super Bowl title. I cannot deny his greatness and neither can you whether you like him or not.
The over-whelming dilemma when it comes to Peyton Manning however is his playoff history which isn’t great even in winning performances.
Take the horrible loss to Baltimore in the Divisional Playoffs this past season. Manning was out-played by the Ravens’ Joe Flacco despite Manning’s three touchdown passes. Flacco also had three TDs but Manning had two interceptions the last of which led to victory in overtime for Baltimore.
Consider the Broncos also had two long returns for touchdowns by Trindon Holliday. Without those, this may not have been much of a game.
Back to the present… Manning’s Broncos are considered the overwhelming favorite to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII next February. Bovada currently lists them at 13-2 to win the Super Bowl and has them at 5-2 to represent the AFC. This puts them ahead of New England, Houston and defending champion Baltimore.
Manning hasn’t exactly handled big-game pressure well during his career in the playoffs. Consider that he is a jaw-dropping 9-11 overall in the playoffs and has won just once in the postseason since the Super Bowl year of 2006. In that 4-0 run through the playoffs, Manning threw just four touchdown passes versus 7 interceptions and had a rating of just 68.1.
His completion precentage wasn’t much more impressive in those four games either at 63%. For the mere mortals of the quarterback position in the NFL that isn’t a horrible number but for Manning it’s about three points lower than his career average. Evidence shows that even when he wins in the playoffs it isn’t always statistically good.
To be fair, he’s had good moments in the playoffs as he did against Denver in 2003 and 2004 when he threw for nine touchdowns and just one pick over those two games against the Broncos and had a passer rating average of over 150.
The issue though is whether you should wager money on Manning and the Broncos. Manning is now 37 years old and while he got consistently better as the season wore on last year, just how healthy is he? Right now, I would say he is as healthy as a guy in his position can be. In the NFL however, a quarterback is always just one hit away from the injured list. Even moreso at his age.
I wrote a couple of days ago why I can’t trust one of the big NFC favorites in Seattle. I have the same feeling with regards to Denver. Yes there is a lot of talent around Manning and the team is pretty much the same from last year with a few differences but it all comes back to Manning.
He’s fortunate and he knows it. He was able to get that one Super Bowl ring and then threw away a chance at another in Super Bowl XLIV against the New Orleans Saints. Comparisons with his brother Eli will last forever as will comparisons against his contemporaries like Tom Brady who has three and Ben Roethlisberger who has two.
Many will say Manning’s career is complete even if he never plays another down but there are also those who believe he has fallen short of being able to be called the best quarterback ever because of playoff failures.
And that’s what you need to decide if you’re going to lay money on the Broncos to win the Super Bowl. Does last season’s epic failure motivate Manning to play better? Or does more playoff ineptitude await him and the city of Denver? I guess this is why it’s called gambling and not winning.