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One City. Two Teams.

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2011 at 2:36 am

Dylan’s Picks

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Most fans live a lifetime and never get to experience a a set-up like this.  Earlier this week I said this is the biggest game ever played in the city of Chicago and its not even close.  One city, one team.  Unlike baseball where Chicago is divided down the middle, or basketball where playoffs are a seven game series, this is a one day, one shot opportunity.  This is the kind of thing that happens once in a lifetime, and both Green Bay and Chicago fans alike should savor every second leading up to this game.

The Line:  Green Bay -3.5

I’ve done my research and listened to the experts for the past four days.  The overwhelming majority of people across the nation outside of Chicago are picking Green Bay to win this game.  They should be.  Green Bay is a better football team.  If you polled the country, I would be willing to bet that 85% of those who follow football would pick the Packers.  Best sports advice I’ve ever heard:  Whatever way the country is going, go the opposite.  That line is one of the few things that gives me much comfort heading into Sunday as a Bears fan.

I’m not going to analyze Green Bay based off of their dominating performance of Atlanta last week.  They played great and Aaron Rogers was a machine.  The Chicago Bears are not the Falcons.  This game isn’t played on a turf.  There is no scenario where I see this game rolling into a blowout either way.  Both defenses are too good, and Soldier Field is like running through a plowed field compared to fast tracks around the NFL.

In his last five games against Chicago, Aaron Rogers has 4 TD and 3 INT with a quarterback rating of about 88.5.  Not exactly elite, but good enough to post a 3-2 record.  I expect Rogers to be steady on Sunday, but don’t expect a lot of explosion against the Bears cover 2.  Big plays are not what will win this football game.

Keys For Green Bay:

  • Patience on offense:  The cover 2 is designed to keep the offense in front of you.  Don’t give up the big play and tackle well.  Aaron Rogers has to be patient against this Bears defense and not get deep ball happy.  His quarterback rating on balls thrown 20 yards down field or more against the Bears this year?  44.   Horrible.  Rogers has to chip away, play smart, and take what Chicago gives him
  • Harass Jay Cutler:  We saw what Jay Cutler can do when he is given time in the pocket last week against Seattle.  First pass?  58 yards all the way to pay dirt, a 7-0 lead and the Bears didn’t look back.  In games where Cutler has to make quick decisions and is pressured, he struggles.  Green Bay has given him plenty of that pressure in both meetings this year, and I don’t see it being much different Sunday.
  • Special Teams:  If Devin Hester scores a touchdown on special teams Sunday the Bears will win this game.  The Packers have to stay in their lanes and tackle well.  You can’t stutter and let Hester come to you.  You have to attack on kickoffs.  Directional punting will be huge.
  • Force Chicago to Blitz:  If Chicago can get pressure with their front four the Packers will be in for a long day.  If Green Bay can keep a steady pocket early and force the Bears outside of their comfort zone on defense, it’ll be a huge advantage.  This is the one of the biggest games of Julius Peppers career and he will be going 110 miles and hour.  You have to keep him in check.
  • Finish Drives:  Teams who struggle against the Bears settle for field goals.  The Bears are not a defense designed to come back from big deficits and I think a huge key for the Packers is to grab an early lead in this game.  You are only going to do that if you finish off drives.  14-0 compared to 6-0 is as night and day as football gets.

Keys For The Bears:

  • Pass Protection: If the Packers are able to consistently put pressure on Jay Cutler the Bears have little to no shot in this game.  The line play is what will decide this game, and its really that simple.  I don’t like how the Bears match-up with Green Bay on the offensive line and nothing I’ve seen in the two prior match-ups give me reason to think any different.  The only thing Chicago has going for them is that Dom Capers threw the kitchen sink at this o-line in week 17 and there isn’t much on tape the Bears won’t have seen come Sunday.  That said, you still have to block Clay Matthews and that 3-4 storm coming downhill.  Easier said than done.
  • Pressure Rogers:  If the Bears front four can’t generate consistent pressure on Rogers, they won’t win this game.  Julius Peppers needs to have a career day.  I’m not saying he has to have six sacks, but I am saying that he has to collapse the pocket, draw double teams, cause false starts, and force blockers to hold.  The Bears can’t afford to blitz much against Rogers.  He’s playing too good.  This is a Patriots-Giants scenario in some ways.  Bring the heat with your front four, and you control the game.
  • Win the turnover battle:  Chicago has to win the turnover battle.  Green Bay is too explosive to give them free points, good field position, and extra possessions.  Charles Tillman is an absolute ball hawk after the catch and when a receiver first gets his hand on the ball.  Outside of Peppers, Tillman also has to have a huge day for the Bears and rip the ball out when he has his chances.
  • Keep Matt Forte Involved:  I truly believe that Matt Forte will have to get his fingerprints all over this game for the Bears offense to be successful.  I don’t care if its rushing, catching the ball out of the backfield, or screens against the blitz, the Bears are a different offense when Forte shines.  If you told me he will rush for 100 yards, I would almost have to pick the Bears to win.

The Bottom Line:

I see this game being an absolute grinder.  The meat of the Bears defense has Superbowl experience and knows what it takes to win an NFC Title at Soldier Field.  Will it matter?  I don’t know.  Turnovers are impossible to predict some I’m going to pretend that the ratio will be even.  The biggest thing I see in a game like this that I haven’t mentioned is the team who converts a better percentage of 3rd downs…another area where I like Green Bay.  I can break down stats and numbers all day long and give and take until we have to call in a math major to sort it all out.  There’s really no need.  My eyeballs tell me that Green Bay is a better team who will move the chains and score touchdowns in the redzone.  Aaron Rogers is the better quarterback.  Green Bay has shown the ability to pressure Cutler more than the Bears pressure Rogers.  Devin Hester is electric, but what are the chances he runs one back Sunday?  Like 15%?  I would like to say home field advantage is a big deal, but its not going to be a difference maker.  There will be plenty of Green and Yellow in the stands Sunday, and Bears fans don’t know how to be quiet when Cutler is under center anyway.  As a life long Bears fan it pains me to tell you how I really feel about this game, but one thing I learned when becoming part of the media is to throw any bias out the window.

Packers 17 Bears 13

Jets vs Steelers

The Line:  Steelers -3.5

My Pick:  Steelers 24 Jets 14

Two great defensive teams, both who have individual weapons unlike any in the NFL.  Simply put:  I don’t think Mark Sanchez is ready for this stage, and the Jets ain’t running on Pittsburgh.  Does anyone else realize that after Big Ben wins the Superbowl this year he will have as many rings as Brady?  Spoiler alert…..oh wait.

Ryan’s Picks

I haven’t done quite the amount of research on these two games that I’m sure my cohort has, so if you want stats and position-by-position breakdown, you won’t get it from me.  I also don’t do much football writing, but it is championship weekend, so I’ll take a crack at it.  I have watched the majority of the playoff games this postseason, so I feel like I have a grasp on what to expect.  However, I have not watched more than an hour of Sportscenter for the last 5 days because I know that 85% of the coverage will be dedicated to football.  I understand that it’s big and it’s what draws fans interest.  But I remember when the program tried to get a little bit of everything in to the show.  Something that just doesn’t happen much anymore.  Hell, I’m almost ready to start hearing about the first Duke-UNC game of the year.  Thank God the place I’m staying at has the MLB network, or I would have lost my mind by now.  Now that my griping is over, on to the picks!

Note: I won’t be picking the line, just straight up.

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Jets recently became the first team that I can recall that has beaten Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in consecutive weeks.  Not only did they beat them, they beat them in their own buildings.  That deserves a golf clap.  The Jets have held their opponents high powered offenses to a total of 37 points over two games while dominating the play in both of them.  Mark Sanchez hasn’t needed the defense as a crutch to get the job done.  His performance against the Colts in the final drive was a thing of brilliance.  That said, I believe this matchup will be the toughest that the Jets have faced to date.

I understand that they beat the Steelers during the season, but Troy Polamalu didn’t play in that game (though I could be wrong), and we all know the Steelers are a different team when he’s in the lineup.  The Steelers have the team that has been there before.  I love the experience that the entire team brings, and with youngsters Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall, and Emmanuel Sanders stepping in and playing major roles this postseason, the Steelers’ offense has to look more impsoing than one would think.  Add in Hines Ward and a quarterback that has been known to get it done in the playoffs his entire career and the game being played in Pittsburgh, and you like the chances of the Steelers winning.

The Jets have been playing with a calmness this postseason that we thought they would have all year.  Mark Sanchez has been great and the defense has been phenomenal, especially in the Patriots game.  This game has the makings of being a defensive slugfest with as well as each unit has been playing.  The Jets know they belong, and no one is going to tell them otherwise.  However, the Steelers are now a healthy team and beat a Ravens team that beat the Jets in the first week of the season in what was nothing short of a war.

For this game, I’m putting emphasis on each team’s running games.  For the Steelers, Mendenhall has shown flashes of brilliance and is becoming one of the best backs in the league.  If he can break a few runs past the Jets’ front 7, it opens up Sanders in the 7-15 yard range and Wallace for the home run ball.  On the other side, Shonn Greene and LT have been up and down all year, but Tomlinson knows that this is his best chance to win a title.  I expect LT to come with everything he has at a very tough Steelers defense.

This one won’t be pretty, points will be at a premium, but I like Pittsburgh’s crunch-time experience.  Steelers 17, Jets 10.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Ho. Lee. Schnikies.  The fact that these two old rivals are meeting for only the second time in the playoffs, and that it’s for the NFC Championship, has even got me to pay attention.  The two teams have taken different routes to where they got.  The Packers have gone on the road and beaten Philly, then go down to Atlanta (where the Falcons were 20-1 in the Matt Ryan era) and absolutely destroyed the Falcons.  They’re almost as complete a team as there is left.  If it wasn’t for their shaky run game, but even that has looked formidable with James Starks picking up the slack.  That means defenses can’t turn all their attention to Aaron Rodgers.  Uh oh.  I hated listening to people lay waste to Rodgers before these playoffs because of his lack of success where it is looked at the most.  They’re as silent as it gets now.  Add on to the fact that the defense has wreaked havoc in the last month, including a 10-6 win over the Bears in Week 17 in a game where the Bears didn’t throw it in to cruise control, and Green Bay is carrying as much momentum as anyone.

The Bears surprised many fans and critics and won the North, got a first round bye and manhandled an over matched Seattle team in the divisional round.  Their defense has been great all year long and they’re finally getting help from the offense, as the running game has come along and Jay Cutler has been efficient and hasn’t killed his team.  Add to the fact that the Bears get the game at Soldier Field with a rabid group of fans, and they have the environmental edge.

The two teams split their meeting this year, but the Packers should have won them both.  18 penalties in the first game in Chicago and the Bears still needed a late field goal to win should say enough.  But these Bears are a different team.  They’ve been good on both sides of the ball and with Devin Hester impacting the return game, the two teams might be as close to even as they have been in a long time.

The biggest key to this game will be each team’s ability to rush the passer.  Each team has a mobile QB, so the ability for each team to collapse the pocket and force a poor throw will be large.  Jay Cutler is getting a lot of praise for what he has done in the second half of this season, and rightfully so.  But this guy threw 4 picks to the same guy in one game.  That monster still exists and everyone wonders when J-Cutty will implode next.  Roughing up a helpless Seahawks defense didn’t do much to sell me on his new found greatness.  He didn’t light up the stat sheet in the last game against Green Bay, but I don’t like to focus much on the stats.  Green Bay has the QB advantage until Cutler proves otherwise.

There is one other factor that I think could be big in this game; Karma.  This directed straight at the Bears and their fans.  I am friends with plenty of Bears fans and a lot of them are joining a facebook group dedicated to hating the Packers and saying the Bears are going to walk all over Green Bay because the game is in Chicago and the defense is playing great and yada, yada, yada.  Some are already planning out their travel plans to Dallas.  My biggest gripe with this comes from the fact that half of them are probably Cubs fans and they should know better than to get ahead of themselves.  Add to the fact that the Packers fans and team have been pretty quiet this whole week.  They know what’s at stake and have chosen to focus on their business.  I’m sure there are various websites and facebook groups dedicated to saying “Screw the Bears this week”, but I have yet to see them.  Shame on those Cubs fans for prematurely running their mouths.  One of my favorite songs is quoted as saying, “Life has found a way where karma slaps you in the face.”  So if Cutler implodes and Aaron Rodgers goes nuts on the Bears D, don’t say I told you so.

I can’t wait for this game.  The two teams don’t like each other.  The fan bases REALLY don’t like each other.  And this game has a LOT on the line.

I have a major cheering interest in this game for the Packers (don’t ask me what it is, I won’t tell you unless I feel you are worthy), but that isn’t impacting my decision since my opinion was swayed in favor of the Packers no more than an hour ago.

Too much on both sides of the ball for the Packers working in their favor right now. Packers 24, Bears 16.


No Longer the Big Fish in the Sea

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I’m already well aware that I am going to be the only person that cares about this particular topic.  But since it’s my blog (half mine anyway), I’m going to go ahead and write about this anyway.  I am less than pleased with the performance of my San Jose Sharks and it’s already well past the halfway point of the regular season.  As always heading in to a season, I have lofty expectations for the Sharks.  I expect for them to compete for one of the top spots in the Western Conference and to be battling for a division title.  Through the better part of the last decade, I have been spoiled by their constant regular season success. 5 division titles, a President’s Trophy, and two trips to the Conference Finals is not a small accomplishment in 10 years time.  However, the belief that there could have been so much more is what continues to bother me.  Through that 10 year period, five of those teams greatly underachieved in the playoffs, blowing great opportunities to advance farther than what they did.  In short, here are those teams:

2002 – Had the powerhouse Avalanche down 3-2 in the West semis with a chance to clinch at home.  They lose in overtime in game 6 on a Peter Forsberg goal.  Teemu Selanne misses a wide open net in Game 7 in a 1-0 loss after a Forsberg goal.  I have yet to forgive Selanne for this.

2004 – Advance to the conference finals against a significantly weaker Flames team.  Lose the first two at home.  Get them back in Calgary.  Proceed to drop the next two games that weren’t even close.  We may not have had the great Cup final that year if the Sharks would have one even one game at home, but I digress.

2006 – Easily handle a very good Nashville team in the opening round, then go up 2-0 on the 8th seeded Oilers (San Jose was the top seed left in the West as a 5 by the way), only to drop the next four.  I still hate Fernando Pisani for this.

2007 – Easily take care of Nashville once again in the first round, only to get rewarded with Detroit in round 2.  The Sharks took a 2-1 series lead and a 1-goal lead in to game 4 of the series, only for the Red Wings to get a late goal from Robert Lang, and lose in OT on a backbreaker by Matt Schneider.  The Wings easily handled the Sharks in the final two games.  This was exceptionally heartbreaking because this was easily the most talented Sharks team they have ever put on the ice.

2008 – Get pushed to the brink in the opening round by Calgary, but survive on a legendary Game 7 performance by Jeremy Roenick.  Then come out flat in the first three games against Dallas, including two poor efforts on their home ice in the first two.  Rally to win the next two games, both in OT.  Then lose one of the longest games in NHL history on a goal by Brendan Morrow in the 4th OT on a bad tripping penalty by Brian Campbell (this is why Sharks fans still boo Campbell every time he comes back to visit).  For our hockey novices, you almost have to commit murder in an overtime playoff game to warrant a penalty.  I was mentally and physically exhausted after this game, and i didn’t get shit for studying done that night either.  I will never forget this game for the big hit Morrow put on Milan Michalek right before the end of regulation and the unbelievable glove save by Evgeni Nabokov on Brad Richards in the first overtime.  Youtube it if you get the chance, you won’t be sorry.

Those are the teams that should have done more.  The year they won the President’s Trophy, I saw the upset from the Ducks coming from a mile away.  I won’t make excuses for last year’s sweep at the hands of Chicago either.  That was a great team that was faster and deeper than the Sharks.

So heading in to this year, I knew there would be changes.  But there would also still be a great deal of talent on the Sharks roster, so I expected a slight dropoff, but I still felt the Sharks were the best team in the Pacific headed in to this year.  More than halfway in to the season, and I am wrong as I have ever been and after seeing their effort the other night against a terrible Toronto team pushed me over the edge.  The team has been plagued by incosistency on the ice.  Combine the fact that the Western Conference is an absolute slugfest right now, and this makes for bad news for the Sharks.  From here on out, every game might as well be a playoff game.  And for those that follow the sport, we all know how well the Sharks do in a playoff-like atmosphere.  They wilt like a 60-year old man’s boner.  So it’s time for me to dive in and look at all the problems that are currently on the team and just where the blame goes.  These are all in no particular order.

Head Coach Todd McClellan – McClellan has done great things in his first head coaching gig in the NHL.  I really like McClellan and think that he has it in him to get the team out of their current funk.  But he needs to show a little faith in his younger, faster players and decide on just who the number one guy is in net.  I will not talk X’s and O’s, I have no playing experience, so this just won’t happen.  But deciding to split playing time between the goalies is like playing two quarterbacks; neither can get in to a groove and get confident knowing that they’re the guy.  You play the best goalie no matter what, and that hasn’t happened consistently enough (more on the goaltending later).  When it comes to the young legs, McClellan has favored the veterans on the team more than the youngsters.  OK, fine.  I have no problem with that logic.  But when the team was dealing with injuries on the blue line, Justin Braun stepped in and did what Jason Demers was supposed to be doing (more on that later as well).  Braun has since been out of the lineup more than he’s been in it, and that hasn’t been a good thing.  Play the best players, Todd.  Also, when you have a group of forwards that lit the league up last year, why break them up?

General Manager Doug Wilson – Another guy that I love to have in the organization.  Doug expects the best out of the Sharks, and anything less isn’t good enough.  So Dougie has to be nothing short of livid with the team’s performance this year.  But he partially has to look at what he has and has not done as a reason why.  He did add Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymaki to replace Sharks legend Evgeni Nabokov as the team’s goaltending duo.  Niemi had a great start in the opener against Columbus, then his game went down the tank for a month and a half.  He’s just now starting to find his game and getting some starts.  He’s another $2 million the Sharks could have used elsewhere.

What Wilson didn’t do was find a capable replacement for Rob Blake.  Both on the ice and in the dressing room.  Blake was a great captain for the Sharks that could still log big minutes at age 40, while anchoring the team’s second powerplay unit and mentoring youngsters Jason Demers and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.  When he retired it tied as the biggest loss of last offseason (losing Manny Malhotra was the other).  So instead of going out and getting a veteran defenseman with good speed and good offensive skills, he did nothing.  I was only skeptical at first, now I’m furious.  Why he didn’t inquire about Tomas Kaberle or Sheldon Souray is beyond me.  What he also didn’t do was get faster.  Their team speed was badly exposed by Chicago last year in the conference finals, and some bottom-6 forward upgrade would have done wonders.  Now, Wilson is scrambling to do something to right the ship.  Oi-vey…

The Sharks Defensemen – Some of this can be attributed to the loss of Blake, but Jason Demers got off to a HORRIBLE start, Marc-Edouard Vlasic has underachieved for the last three seasons, and Doug Murray and Kent Huskins have been in and out of the lineup with injuries.  Niclas Wallin has been on the point for most of the time on the Shark’s second PP unit.  When you’re counting on Nic Wallin to give you a boost from the blue line offensively, you feel like you’re riding shotgun on the Hindenburg.  Dan Boyle continues to be a savior from the blue line, but he can’t play 60 minutes every game.  The rest of the blue line is too slow (Huskins, Murray, Wallin) or not performing the way they should (Demers, Vlasic).  Justin Braun has been good, but hasn’t had his chance to shine yet.

Goaltending – This is the first year A.N.; After Nabokov.  While Evgeni Nabokov was never able to get the jbo done in the playoffs, there is no doubting that in the regular season, the dude was money.  So when they elected not to pay him the $6 million/yr. he wanted for a new deal, I was comfortable in watching him leave.  Though I did have a tear in my eye when I found out.  But my hopes returned with the signing of Niittymaki.  I have always felt Niitty has had the talent to be a No. 1 goalie, but injuries prevented him from doing that.  So a tandem of Niitty and Thomas Greiss looked good… until the Sharks signed Niemi.  Nemo was fresh off a Cup win, but he felt like he was owed for playing behind a great team and left Chicago.  So with that, a new Finnish duo was ushered in and Thomas Greiss was sent off to Sweden to play with Brynas (the Sharks still own his rights).  Neither goalie has been able to get any kind of momentum due to the platoon and Niittymaki’s confidence is at an all-time low right now.  Here’s hoping that the Alex Stalock era isn’t far away.

Before we get in to the last reason, I have to warn you, this could get bloody.  So strap on your rubber gloves, let’s go in…

The Star Forwards – This is directed at Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi.  I am going to exclude Ryane Clowe (who laid in to his teammates last week in an intervention I would not have wanted to be a part of) and Logan Couture, because the two of them have been the only consistently good forwards for the Sharks.  I’ll go one by one, this time in order.

Pavelski – For those of you that know me well enough, I’m a big fan of Joe Pavelski.  He’s a winner and his performance in the playoffs last year was the thing legends are made of.  But he has taken a step back this year, battling inconsistency throughout the time he has been in the lineup.  Yes, he has 27 points in 36 games, but he’s been so up-and-down this year to the point that it’s been frustrating.  He’s been out of the lineup for the last couple of weeks, so it’ll be interesting to see if the time off helped The Big Pavelski get ready for the second half of the year.

Heatley – Heater is tied for the team lead in scoring, but he hasn’t been the finisher this year that he has been in the past.  He still shoots a ton, but the pucks aren’t going in.  Add in the fact that he his defensive game hasn’t been the greatest and that he looks like he’s sleepwalking at times on the ice, and it’s not a pretty sight at times.

Setoguchi – What a fall from grace.  After scoring 30 goals 2 years ago, Seto is now fighting for quality minutes.  It’s like watching Jonathan Cheechoo all over again.  Setoguchi has great speed and a good shot, but he’s so screwed up between the ears that it isn’t even funny.  He’ll be up for free agency after this year, and his poor performances the last two years means that his ass should be launched out of San Jose.

Marleau – Talk about a guy that doesn’t consistently show up.  Marleau had a great year last year and cashed in that year to become a Shark for life.  Then he forgot to carry the drive that he showed last year over to this year.  He’s been as inconsisten as anyone and even though he could still score 30 goals this year, he should be one of the guys that should be constantly lighting up his teammates and holding people accountable for their sorry-ass performance this year.  But he needs to get his own shit together before Patty starts dishing out verbal punishment.

Joe Thornton – Ever since he put on a Sharks sweater, I have done nothing but grow more and more frustrated by Joe Thornton’s play.  Even at age 31, Jumbo’s skills are still undeniable.  He’s big, strong, physical, great hands, great shot, and is built in the mold of Eric Lindros.  But just like his tenure in Boston, Jumbo hasn’t been able to deliver when it counts and that drives a fan base crazy.  He doesn’t shoot near enough (last scored 30 goals back in 2002-2003), he disappears when someone gets in his kitchen (see Pronger, Chris or Getzlaf, Ryan), and there is no humanly way that someone like Thornton shouldn’t be able to dominate every game 37 points in 42 games is not acceptable.  I have no problem saying this.  Add to the fact that he’s captain of the team and he’s the obvious choice to be under the microscope.  But I have always felt that Thornton isn’t meant to be a captain.  Before the year, I felt that either Pavelski or Dan Boyle should have been chosen.  I wasn’t upset with Jumbo, but I wasn’t thrilled.  Now you begin to see why.  If he wants to take a game over, he does it.  A few games against Detroit last year in the playoffs, Thornton took over and the Sharks were winners.  He hasn’t put a string of games like that together this year.  He better, or Sharks fans will be calling for his head.

The five players mentioned have 58 goals, 87 assists, and are a -50!!!!!!! Throw in the fact that the five make about $30 million combined, and this meand that the blame is failry justified.

As a fan, that’s painful.

Manning or Brady? Proof In The Numbers.

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Brian Kenny brought up some great points recently on ESPN radio that I think more people should be aware of.  Another great year for Tom Brady and the best coach in the NFL (maybe ever) has vamped up the talking once again that Brady is ahead of Peyton Manning in terms of a better quarterback all-time.  Brady has 3 Superbowl wins and could very well get his 4th this season.  Actually, let me rephrase that:  The New England Patriots have 3 Superbowl rings over Bradys tenure and may well get their 4th this year.  Is Tom Brady a very big reason for that?  Yes.  Does this make him a better quarterback than Peyton Manning?  No. As we dive into the numbers, they suggest its not even close.

The stats we’re looking at are the number of times Manning and Brady have finished a season in the top 5 in these statistical categories over their career coming into this year:

  • Quarterback Rating:  Manning 8 – Brady 2
  • Passing Yards:  Manning 10 – Brady 3
  • Yards Per Attempt:  Manning 8 – Brady 1
  • TD Passes:  Manning 13 – Brady 5
  • Completion %:  Manning 10 – Brady 3
  • INT %:  Manning 3 – Brady 2

Total Top 5’s:  Peyton Manning – 52
Tom Brady – 16

As you can see from a total production standpoint over their careers, its not even close.  Now before you fire back with the rings argument, remember that teams win superbowls.  NFL squads march 22 starters out there every Sunday, and thats not counting special teams.  In the one year Brady went down with an injury the Patriots trotted out Matt Cassel who didn’t even start in college and won 11 football games.  I have no doubt in my mind, (as others have stated) that without Peyton Manning there have been years that the Colts would have won 5 games or less, especially this season.

If you are still on the fence after seeing the numbers in front of you, look at those numbers one more time and then answer this:  You are starting an NFL franchise from complete scratch.  You have no idea what team it is, who the coach will be, and who the other players on the team will be.  You get the choice of Peyton Manning or Tom Brady coming in as a rookie, only knowing that they will be your quarterback for the next 10 years.  Who are you taking?  To me, the choice is clear.