Peyton Manning was drafted No. 1 overall in the 1998 NFL Draft and hasn’t failed to live up to the lofty expectations for a player whose father, Archie, played in the NFL for 14 years.
Peyton won a Super Bowl championship after the 2006 NFL season and has won the NFL MVP award three times in his career. He’s been selected to the Pro Bowl nine times in 11 seasons.
Don’t lose focus, though. Manning is the top quarterback in the NFL.
Here are the top five reasons why Manning is at the top of the heap.
While Manning certainly possesses a variety of skills that make him a great quarterback, the biggest factor he brings to the Indianapolis Colts is consistency. He hasn’t missed a start in his entire career and he’s thrown for more than 3,700 yards and at least 26 TDs in each of his NFL campaigns.
Brady is a very consistent quarterback for the Patriots but he went from a career-high of 28 TDs to a record-setting 50 TDs in New England’s undefeated 2007 regular season. You have to ask yourself if he will resemble the form he showed in nine of his 10 NFL seasons, or if the Randy Moss-Brady tandem will continue to break records.
Fantasy football owners know all too well the detriments an injured player can have on a fantasy roster. Manning hasn’t disappointed his owners, though, starting every game in his career. He usually plays the entire game and is even starts late in the season when playoff positions have already been decided.
Look at the list of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and many of them have suffered from serious injuries. San Diego’s Philip Rivers suffered a knee injury late in the 2007 season; Brady only played one game in the 2008 season after injuring his knee; and a shoulder injury in the last game of the 2005 season helped push Brees out of San Diego to make room for Rivers as the Chargers’ starting quarterback.
A speedy release under relatively light pressure, usually results in a better throw from the quarterback. Avoiding sacks is key to keeping drives alive and putting points on the board. Manning’s quick release has helped him throw fewer than 15 interceptions in the last six seasons. When he set the single-season records for touchdowns with 49 in 2006, Manning only threw 10 interceptions.
Pittsburgh Steelers signal caller Ben Roethlisberger is well-known for his postseason exploits. In the regular season, however, he’s often sacked in key situations. Big Ben was sacked 46 times in 2006, 47 times in 2007, and 46 times in 2008. Manning has not been sacked more than 29 times in a single season and was only sacked 14 times in 2008.
Manning’s 64.4 career completion percentage is better than Joe Montana’s 63.2 rate. The Colts QB has kept his completion percentage above 65 the last seven seasons.
While Tom Brady had a 68.9 completion percentage in his record-setting 2007 season, he hasn’t passed the 64 percent mark in any other season during his nine-year NFL career.
Better accuracy keeps drives going, keeps defenses honest, and shows that Manning isn’t putting up numbers simply because he throws a lot—he’s the most accurate quarterback in the NFL.
Quarterbacks have to take care of the ball and prevent turnovers if they want to keep their teams in the game and in playoff contention. Manning doesn’t fumble often.
For instance, Kurt Warner had an excellent season in 2008, leading the Arizona Cardinals all the way to their first Super Bowl appearance. Warner passed for 4,583 yards, 30 TDs, 14 INTs, and had an above average 67.1 completion percentage.
But Warner’s biggest weaknesses have been turnovers and he had 11 fumbles last season. He lost two fumbles in Super Bowl XLIII, a close game that Pittsburgh won with a touchdown in the final minute. Warner has reached double-digits in fumbles five times in his career and had nine fumbles in two other seasons.
In comparison, Manning career-high for fumbles in a single season is seven and Manning only had one fumble in 2008. An incredible statistic, especially considering Manning’s team recovered his single fumble.