Manning has three straight potential cold and/or windy games coming up (at Kansas City, Tennessee and San Diego at home), and could have playoff games in January in Denver, Foxboro, Kansas City or Cincinnati, and the Super Bowl is on the first Sunday of February in New Jersey. Manning might have to go 6-0 or 5-1 in cold weather to win his second Super Bowl.
Obviously, this could go very badly, and there's no law that says Peyton Manning has to win another Super Bowl. But it's also the perfect setup for him to put some nasty narratives to rest, isn't it?
3TFO: Broncos @ Patriots, Week 12
When these teams met last season, the Patriots’ offense employed an interesting strategy to limit Miller’s effectiveness. Whenever Miller was on the sideline, New England went to a no-huddle offense so that the Broncos could not substitute Miller back into the game. Miller rarely comes off the field, but he played just 65 of 97 snaps that week. The former Aggie was still able to earn a career-best +12.3 grade in his limited snaps, a figure that fully justifies the concern that the Patriots had for him in that game.
Wait, wasn't that game one giant huddle-less blur? Did the Broncos even get the ball that day?
The Manning-Brady Face-off
That’s the reality in trying to compare these two guys, especially knowing what we know about them after all these years: You’re splitting hairs based upon entirely tiny distinctions or mistaking events that happened to them for indications of their talent…Picking one over the other based on their respective accomplishments is an exercise in small samples; identifying a winner based on their respective talents is nitpicking at its finest.
While I appreciate the maturity of this, I still think John Elway was better than Joe Montana, and would have won six Super Bowls with his supporting cast.
Sunday Slate: Analyzing Week 12 Matchups
What is Bill Belichick to do? He prefers to play 2-man coverage concepts, meaning man-to-man across the board with either both safeties up top or with one roving underneath. However, Belichick just watched Peyton Manning hang 27 points on the Chiefs’ man-based defense that he knows is better than his own.
FWIW, the Pats pass defense (9th) isn't that far behind the Chiefs' (5th), at least according to Burke's efficiency data; they're just behind them at intercepting passes, too.
It's the run that New England defense doesn't handle well, ranking fourth worst in the league there (KC is sixth best).
That said, it could be Denver’s defense providing more pressure. In last year’s game, the Pats opened up a 31-7 third-quarter lead, and Manning was sacked just twice, despite having to throw as much as possible to get back in the game. Denver, meanwhile, enjoyed four Brady takedowns. This season, Brady’s 28 sacks are tied for fifth-highest in the league, while Manning has hit the ground just 13 times. Also, watch for running back Stevan Ridley, who gashed Denver’s defense for 151 yards the last time around.
Manning has only attempted 29 more passes than has Brady, so the difference in their sack rates is similar to that of their gross numbers: Peyton has been sacked at a 3.1% rate (bested only by Matthew Stafford's 2.8%), while Brady's hit the turf 6.9% of the time (18th, tie).
It's Brady vs. Manning, and nothing else matters.
So instead of drowning in purple prose or analytics, let’s sit back and let Brady/Manning be. You know the people at Yellowstone who fumble with their cameras to get a perfect picture of the moose instead of watching the moose? We are becoming a whole society of those people. No hype, no frills, no meta-ironic commentary: let’s just watch two of the greatest players ever, while they are still here.
Obviously, Tanier's right, because nothing in sports is better than Manning versus Brady. As for the advanced metrics, they offer more of a dead heat than might be expected.
Week 12 N.F.L. Game Probabilities: Strange Math for Jets
0.63 Denver at New England 0.37
Just like Vegas, Brian Burke's data says that against the Broncos, the Patriots are home dogs - a role they're completely unaccustomed to.
That said, New England is a far more balanced team than is Kansas City, and in terms of efficiency, a much better one.
Of course, Burke's efficiency-based probabilities don't account for the possibility that Wes Welker misses the game, nor that Alfonzo Dennard may be out for the Patriots.
Team Efficiency Rankings: Week 11
The Chargers are the worst run defense and third-worst pass defense, which is unsurprising when you look at their non-Eric Weddle defensive personnel. Five of San Diego’s last six games are against the Chiefs, Broncos, Bengals and resurgent (!) Giants, so the 4-6 Chargers can probably kiss those wild-card ambitions goodbye.
Denver remains #3 overall, with New Orleans and Seattle having flipped the top two spots. On offense, the Broncos are still #1 overall (obviously): #1 in passing, #10 (tie) running, #2 in interceptions, and dead last in fumbles.
The defense has risen from #26 to #21 to #17 during the Broncos' three-game winning streak; they're now #19 (tie) versus the pass, #3 against the run, and #9 (tie) at intercepting passes. The flag-filled KC game dropped Denver from #15 to #20 in penalty avoidance.
After watching through the game, I am going with a heavy dose of Manning, with an emphasis (even moreso than normal for him) on getting the ball out of his hand quickly because of the sore ankle, with an assist to the receivers winning the one-on-one matchups with the secondary. You can also throw in Manning dominating the pre-snap read battle, so that he was often able to throw to his initial or secondary read very quickly after the ball hit his hands.
Most of the media's plaudits (including Jon Gruden's last night) have been aimed at the Denver offensive line, and PFF even criticizes Peyton Manning for not having completed many passes downfield on Sunday.
But as Jason Lisk explains, Peyton got rid of the ball so quickly that the line wasn't asked to do much, and given that his longest time holding the ball was 3.2 seconds, how could he have aired it out?
Patriots to be home underdogs for first time since 2005
The last time they were not favored for a home game was Nov. 7, 2005 when the Patriots played (guess who?) Manning and the Colts. Indianapolis was a three-point road favorite on that day, and the Colts easily covered, winning 40-21. Before that game, the previous time the Patriots were an underdog at home occurred Dec. 29, 2002 vs. the Dolphins.
The last quarterback not named Peyton Manning to lead his team into Foxboro as a favorite? Naturally, it was Jay Fiedler.