Patriot fans had mixed emotions as the hated Pittsburgh Steelers played the arch-enemy Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning. Who to root for? That was the issue. Pittsburgh wins and the Pats play one more game at Gillette. Denver wins and the historic Brady-Manning debate begins again.
And The Winner Is…True Football Fans
With Denver’s late comeback win over the Steelers, it’s on to Sport Authority Field at Mile High. C’mon now, admit it. The thought of one more Manning – Brady battle is intriguing. This is it…the probable last chance for these two great QB’s playing in a crucial play-off game…just one step from the Super Bowl. Both are approaching the end of their football journey, one with a whimper (Manning) and the other with the roar of a lion (Brady).
Have the reports of Peyton’s demise been exaggerated
Can Brady, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s evil villain, once again defeat America’s favorite pizza/insurance/ESPN etc, etc, etc spokesperson
Is the home field advantage enough to propel Denver, a flawed team, into the awaiting arms of Arizona or Carolina
Will the emotional return of Julian Edelman for a second game carry over and allow the weak offensive line of New England to actually keep Brady upright long enough to use his weapons in victory.
More Questions Than Answers
Unlike the NFC contest between the clear-cut favorites, Arizona Cardinals & Carolina Panthers, this AFC duel is somewhat surprising. Most “experts” raved about the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers (who backed in when the J-E-T-S choked) as the “hot” picks as the play-offs got underway.
KC had won 11 straight when they travelled to Gillette and were pummeled by New England. Pittsburgh overcame adversity and headed to the Mile High City after a back-yard brawl in Cincinnati, to lead for most of the game before falling to the Manning led Broncos.
The Patriots and Broncos both stumbled into the bye-week with a sigh of relief. Denver was debating who their QB would be, while New England was hoping their long list of critical injuries to key players would heal enough to field a representative play-off team.
Yet here they stand, still with serious questions, on the precipice of the AFC Championship Game. Denver, a late Sunday victor, ready to prove they have a great defense that can carry them to Super Bowl 50 despite the health of their eventual Hall-Of-Fame QB…and New England, the team other team’s fans love to hate, trying to once again rise above the noise and win their 5th ring during the Brady-Belichick era.
This Week In The Media
All week leading up to Sunday you will read about the history of these two teams and their great QB’s. There will be a plethora of articles filled with facts and opinions (probably write one myself) on why New England/Denver should/will win and go on to glory in the 2015/2016 Super Bowl. Meanwhile…..
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…and enjoy the banter. On Sunday, January 24th at about 6:30 PM the AFC questions will be answered and fans will be either on the edge of their seat, or grumbling at the dog, while waiting to see who the opponent will be from the NFC.
Tom Brady. Peyton Manning. The two have been linked for seemingly their entire careers. Not only are they the two best quarterbacks of their generation, they’re likely the two best of all time (sorry Joe Montana). It’s been a fun debate. How often do you have the two best at their position playing at the same time? They’re the same age (Manning is 39, Brady 38), and they meet just about every season. The only other time it’s happened in sports is in the NBA, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson battled it out for an NBA championship every year.
Everybody debates which quarterback is better, it’s an American pastime. Add Tom Brady to those who are a part o the debate. When Brady and the NFLPA filed suit against the NFL for their ruling in deflategate, some of the documents filed were some of Brady’s personal emails. One of the emails leaked was between Brady and a personal friend during the week of the Patriot’s matchup with the Broncos. They were discussing the same thing every football fan loves to debate, Brady vs. Manning. Tom said the difference is going to be that, “[Brady’s] got another 7 or 8 years. [Manning] has 2. That’s the final chapter.”
Yesterday Peyton Manning spoke about it for the first time at Broncos training camp. Manning said, “Hey, Tom sent me an apology text that was unnecessary. The fact his emails got revealed, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.” Manning went on to say, “No harm, no foul, I didn’t think a lot of it. Somebody said I was roasted, I’ve been roasted before and that is not roasted. I haven’t been on a Comedy Central roast, but I’ve been to a couple private dinners and banquets where I didn’t know it was going to turn into a roast of me, but it did. I can promise you that email was amateur night compared to some of the things that were said about me.”
The two are nothing but respectful of each other. Both are ultra-competitive, and you can see here that includes individual competition. If someone were to go into Peyton Manning’s private emails, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to find something similar. That’s not the main takeaway from this instance. The main story is that this should never go public. That’s why people settle cases. When the NFL and NFLPA were first negotiating a settlement, Brady said while he wouldn’t accept any suspension, he would consider accepting a fine. Why would Brady accept a fine if he believed he wasn’t guilty? Isn’t accepting a fine an admittance of guilt? This is why. Paying a fine is getting rid of a headache. It’s getting rid of a long court case. It’s protecting your own privacy.
Here’s the other takeaway most Patriot haters will never admit and don’t want to hear. This is why you destroy your cell phone. What person that’s paid attention to how Roger Goodell has handled his business in recent years would trust the NFL with their private cell phone? Does it look bad that Brady destroyed it? Yes. Is it really an obstruction of evidence? Not really. Brady and his attorneys provided Ted Wells and the NFL with all of the necessary cell phone records. Can you blame him for not wanting his private cell phone to end up in the NFL’s hands? The NFL, who has manipulated the entire deflategate controversy with leaks at calculated times, in order to shape public opinion. While Tom Brady’s personal opinion of Peyton Manning, the real story is the release of personal information, and helps explain some of the actions taken by Brady in his appeal.
Amidst the rubble of court documents, emails, and newly released material regarding the never ending Deflategate controversy, an interesting email sent from Tom Brady has emerged. In the message, sent just a week before the Patriots rout of the Broncos in week 9, Brady seemed to have no doubts he will outlast veteran quarterback Peyton Manning. Brady is quoted as saying “I’ve got another 7 or 8 years. He has 2. That’s the final chapter. Game on.”
Ever since Brady and Manning faced off against each other in 2001, every game has been a fight for the title “Greatest of All Time.” Each has their own obsessive fan base, ready at a moment’s notice to list every reason why their QB is the better of the two. It’s no doubt, then, that Brady sees Manning as his biggest competition. For nearly eight months the sports world has wrestled over Tom Brady’s legacy and whether Deflategate is enough to topple it. To Brady, it seems, Manning is the only one able to cast that large of a shadow over his career.
Statistically speaking, Brady should be worried. Throughout his career Peyton has thrown for more touchdowns, more yards, and higher quarterback ratings than Brady. Manning’s numbers are undeniably better across the board, with his record setting four NFL MVP awards showing just how great of an individual player he is. Head to head, however, is a different story. Out of 16 games played between the two greats, Brady has won 11 of them–nearly 70%. Add to that four Super Bowl rings and three Super Bowl MVP’s and Tom easily evens the contest.
Peyton calling it quits in two years would be huge for Brady’s sake in the competition. In fact, the idea isn’t unfounded. Manning’s multiple neck surgeries of 2011 and his recent troubles with his right quad and throwing arm leave many wondering how much more the signal caller has in him. Decreased passing numbers over the last two years could also indicate the future hall of famer is finally in decline. In New England, however, the current Super Bowl champion’s numbers have been on the rise as of the last few years.
When it comes down to it, these next few seasons will be critical for both quarterback’s legacies. How Brady handles the current controversy surrounding him will become a defining moment, four game suspension or not. In Denver, training camp attendees are reporting Peyton’s arm is as strong as ever. Receiver Demaryius Thomas has even claimed “it seems like [Manning] has more zip” on his passes. From the sound of it, Manning may have a lot more than two seasons left in him. Sixteen matchups later and no clear cut winner, Tom has poured some much needed fuel on the fire for the Brady versus Manning saga. It may be a decade before a consensus is ever reached on the where the two greats rank, but there is no doubt that both players have more than earned their place in the halls of Canton.
As training camps open throughout the NFL every team approaches the season with a different objective in mind. The Lombardi Trophy would be the ultimate goal for everyone, but for many teams that is unobtainable (yes, I know they all start on a level playing field…but really?) Let’s take a quick look around the NFL at last year’s haves and have-nots.
BOTTOM OF THE LADDER – 5 WINS OR LESS (2014)
JACKSONVILLE, TENNESSEE, OAKLAND, WASHINGTON, TAMPA, CHICAGO, NEW YORK JETS
These seven teams combined for a total of just 23 wins, with Chicago (5-11) leading the pack. All seven are thin at many positions and keep searching to find the formula that will push them into contention. Training camp is more important for them as they take a look at their weaknesses and need as much time as they can get to scrutinize all the players available to take the next step.
Everyone in this group has serious flaws and to expect a turnaround to double-digit wins in one season is setting expectations high. Yes, off-season signings may have helped, but history tells us the odds are strong that most of them will once again bring up the rear end of their division.
The Jets have had the most improvement in talent, but are playing in a division that, with the exception of New England, has stepped up in the off-season. With a new Head Coach (Todd Bowles) and no proven QB (I’m being kind) it’s hard to see them leap frogging Buffalo and Miami, let alone the Super Bowl Champion Patriots.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK – 6 TO 9 WINS
MIAMI, CLEVELAND, NY GIANTS, MINNESOTA, ATLANTA, CAROLINA, NEW ORLEANS, SAN FRANCISCO, ST. LOUIS, KANSAS CITY, SAN DIEGO, HOUSTON, BUFFALO
The unlucky thirteen need training camp to check who will or won’t be an asset in 2015. Many players will be “on-the-bubble” for this group. In a league that prides itself on competitive balance it’s no surprise they make up the largest percentage of teams in the NFL.
Some teams are on the way up (Houston, Miami and Buffalo???) and are looking at training camp as a chance to see improvement from veterans as well as analyze their youngsters. Others are striving to regain prominence (Kansas City, St. Louis, New Orleans, San Francisco, NY Giants, Carolina, San Diego) and are hoping their veterans are ready to bounce back, some from injuries others from off years, and will use camp to see if they have filled the holes that weren’t apparent until too late in 2014.
The remaining three (Cleveland, Atlanta, Minnesota) are working to assure they won’t drop into the bottom rung, where they have all resided in past seasons. Training camp will be used to evaluate key players and positions that could make or break their ability to move up, or, more than likely, fall further in the standings.
Looking at this group, Houston, Miami and Buffalo all look ready to step up. The strength of division/schedule will have an impact, as both Miami and Buffalo play in a dramatically improved AFC East while Houston has only the Colts to contend with in the AFC South (not sure how Indianapolis is in the south…but I digress).
Playing in the exceptionally weak NFC South, where Carolina won the division with an ugly 7-8-1 record, will certainly help not only the Panthers, but also New Orleans and Atlanta.
CONTENDERS/PRETENDERS – 10 TO 14 WINS
NEW ENGLAND, PITTSBURGH, CINCINNATI, BALTIMORE, INDIANAPOLIS, DENVER, DALLAS, PHILADELPHIA, GREEN BAY, DETROIT, SEATTLE, ARIZONA
This grouping often has fewer needs and are just hope to get out of training camp without any major injuries. Odds are the next Super Bowl will be played by two of the 12 teams in this group.
New England, last year’s Super Bowl winner, looks to have more question marks then you would expect after losing many key parts from their championship team. With those holes to fill, especially in the secondary, you know teams (and fans) are chomping at the bit to step on them while they are regrouping.
Yes, the Pats could be vulnerable early, especially if QB Tom Brady is out for 4 games. but Head Coach Bill Belichick has led New England to 12 straight winning seasons, so don’t dig the grave too quickly. Commissioner Roger Goodell has just issued his decision to keep the penalty the same, so the courts will now decide if Brady’s sentence fits the supposed crime.
Teams unlikely to repeat their 2014 performance include:
Cincinnati, still unable to win the big game
Arizona, wilting in the second half playing in that unbearable heat
The remaining eight will fight to prove their worth and use training camp to test veterans that may have reached the downside of their careers, draft picks who could step in, free agent signings and those always exciting un-drafted free agents. Training camp is a bother more than need for most of of the chosen few.
Look for the teams that have done it before, can overcome issues and have solid veteran leadership to once again step up and reach for “THE RING.”
My pre-season picks (Lord, its way too early for this to mean anything) are…drum roll please…the angry, hated, underdog New England Patriots (confession time, that pick is with my heart not brain) taking on the always tough Green Bay Packers, for the Lombardi Trophy.
To read full articles from the original sources, just click on the blue highlighted portions of this article. The opinions expressed in this article are strictly mine and open for discussion.
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