If we've seen two things from quarterback Peyton Manning in his "rebirth" in the Mile High City it's this.
First, while Manning may not exactly be the player he once was he's still a very effective NFL quarterback, as evidenced by the fact that time and time again this season he's led the Denver Broncos back into games after finding themselves in an early hole.
This culminated in Monday's stunning comeback (via denverpost.com) against the San Diego Chargers.
The second thing is that in it's current incarnation, this Broncos team—a squad that keeps finding itself in big holes due to miscues and a leaky run defense—isn't a legitimate Super Bowl contender, Peyton Manning or not.
So, assuming that the point of this whole exercise was for him to get back to the big game and not just inundate us with more commercials (is there anything he isn't the pitchman for?) here's a look at three teams that would have been better off with Peyton Manning and vice versa.
San Francisco 49ers
At first glance this may smack of piling on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith after his three interception debacle against the New York Giants in Week 6, but I'm really not. The eighth-year pro has played well for the most part this season, and the 49ers are very much a Super Bowl contender with Smith at the helm.
However, Alex Smith just isn't Peyton Manning, and the thought of Manning running the San Francisco offense is more than a little frightening. The Niners have a capable stable of pass-catchers, a solid running game, and, most importantly, Peyton Manning has never in his career had a defense helping his cause that's anywhere near as talented as the one in San Francisco.
First off, I know that this is completely unrealistic, and that there was no way that Peyton Manning would ever have ended up in Philadelphia given his price tag and the boatload of money that the Eagles already have tied up in Michael Vick.
With that said, this is my party, and I'm playing what if. So, what if?
A Super Bowl contender, that's what.
The Eagles are still a very talented team on both sides of the football whose biggest problem lies in their quarterback's seemingly pathological need this year to turn the ball over.
I have a feeling that Manning would be of some help in that regard, and besides, it would set up two Eli vs. Peyton matchups a year, which would probably cause Skip Bayless to spontaneously combust.
If that happens, we all win.
The Arizona Cardinals have been one of the surprise teams in the National Football League this year, and while consecutive losses have taken some of the luster off the Redbirds, they remain in a tie for first place in the NFC West.
The team has gotten off to 4-2 on the shoulders of a stout defense and the surprisingly effective play of quarterback Kevin Kolb. However, as well as Kolb has played, just the idea of Peyton Manning lobbing passes in Larry Fitzgerald's direction is enough to make Cardinal fans woozy.
The biggest deal breaker here, unfortunately, would be the Cardinals' woeful offensive line. Manning is capable of making a line look better with play calls and quick releases, but there's only so much that even he could do with so little.
For all these teams, though, it's a matter of what could have been, while fans of the Denver Broncos will get to roll into their bye week at 3-3 and hoping for what might still be.
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