Peyton Manning's last offensive drive included passes to Jacob Tamme and Blair White with a dash of Joseph Addai on the ground. That 2010 Wild Card game against the Jets seems like eons ago, not only for Colts fans, but your casual NFL fan, too.
His last drive is a microcosm of what the elder Manning brought to the line every single down. He possesses the innate ability to raise the game of those around him. From Tamme to White to Austin Collie to Pierre Garcon, Manning has made an art out of creating chicken soup from chicken droppings. Up until now, through 13 professional seasons, this maestro's magic hat featured a horseshoe emblazoned on the side.
I will sidestep the arsenal of Andrew Luck/horseshoe puns and get right to the crux of Manning's future: all signs point to him signing with a new team in 2012.
Las Vegas bookmakers have set odds on where he will land:
The what-if scenarios are plentiful and where Whatifsports.com's NFL simulation engine (67.2 percent SU and 52.2 percent ATS in the regular season) takes center stage.
It's safe to assume that Arizona fans stuck with John Skelton and a constantly hobbled Kevin Kolb behind center would be interested to see what Peyton Manning — at full strength — could have meant to the Cardinals' 2011 season. The same simulation situation presents itself in Washington with the Rex Grossman/John Beck carousel, in Miami where Matt Moore tried his best and even in New York where Mark Sanchez is losing favor amongst the Jets' fanbase.
Using our NFL simulation engine, we added Manning — using his 2010 statistical resume — to each of those four rosters and simulated each teams' 2011 regular-season schedule 251 times.
|Peyton's New Places?|
|2011 Team||Sim W / L||2011 W / L||Avg PPG (Actual)|
|Manning w/ Cardinals||11-5||8-8||26.6 (19.5)|
|Manning w/ Redskins||9-7||5-11||23.6 (18.0)|
|Manning w/ Dolphins||11-5||6-10||25.7 (20.6)|
|Manning w/ Jets||12-4||8-8||25.8 (23.6)|
Arizona believed Kevin Kolb was the answer to their quarterback quandary. After the front office tossed $21 million guaranteed dollars his way, Kolb struggled to live up to the lofty expectations before injuries sidelined him for most of the second half of the season. In nine games, he threw for less than 2,000 yards with nine touchdowns, eight interceptions and an 81.1 QB rating.
With Manning behind center, the Cardinals won three more games and the offense averaged seven more points per game (versus reality) in our simulation. The scary thought of Manning chucking the rock in Larry Fitzgerald's direction aside, Early Doucet, Andre Roberts and Todd Heap's fantasy football value would receive a nice boost, too.
|Manning's 2011 Simulation Stats|
|2011 Team||Passing Yards||Touchdowns||Interceptions|
|Manning w/ Cardinals||4605||31||8|
|Manning w/ Redskins||4596||29||9|
|Manning w/ Dolphins||4369||31||9|
|Manning w/ Jets||4645||32||9|
*Manning's simulation stats are the average of the 251 schedule simulations
Rex Grossman/John Beck versus Peyton Manning? I'll wait until you stop laughing and catch your breath.
Our simulation engine predicted four more wins and five-and-a-half more points per game on the scoreboard for the Redskins. Manning could easily make Fred Davis his new Dallas Clark if he moved to Washington.
Miami has gone from craving the services of Kyle Orton last summer to settling for Chad Henne to leaning on Matt Moore the final 13 games of the season to being a part of the Manning "what-if" conversation heading into 2012. His chemistry with Brandon Marshall and the rise of Reggie Bush's statistical output equated to five more wins within our sim run.
Twitter may explode (is that phrase becoming a cliche already?) if Manning signs with the New York Jets. With baby brother around the corner, the Big Apple would be the epicenter of NFL coverage in 2012 and take the attention off New Orleans, Green Bay, New England and the usual elite franchise suspects.
With Mark Sanchez relegated to official clipboard holder, Manning won four more games in our simulation. Here's another scenario where the veteran quarterback would team up with a proven tight end. Dustin Keller led the Jets in receiving with 65 receptions for 815 yards. Despite the off-the-field baggage they carry, Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress paired with Manning poses two dangerous tandems that would challenge the Patriots for the AFC East.