The Denver Broncos play host to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts this weekend at Invesco Field at Mile High.
The quarterback gene pool in the Manning family is bigger than the Gulf of Mexico.
Starting with father Archie and his days of trying to carry a woeful New Orleans team on his back in the 1970's and on through two of his sons (his oldest, Cooper, defected and was a wide receiver at Ol' Miss), no one can deny that this is the royal family of NFL quarterbacks.
Younger brother Eli Manning, quarterback for the New York Giants has a Super Bowl win under his belt. But he was reminded once more last week, as I am sure he was in his childhood, who the Big Kahuna was and is in the Manning family tree. Big brother Peyton put on a virtual clinic against the Giants, pounding them 38-14.
Through two games, Peyton has six touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 121.
Thus, Peyton is the crown jewel in this family. He of the 10 consecutive Pro Bowl selections, the four NFL MVP awards and his Super Bowl ring. Before he is through he most likely will own virtually all the quarterback records and will be a unanimous first ballot induction into Canton.
The only record he won't hold will be Brett Favre's career interception record, which will be safe forever.
And Mr. Manning is bringing all this gaudy bag of success into the Denver Broncos' house this Sunday.
Let's see how will that will or won't work out for Manning, the Colts and the Broncos.
Manning is arguably the smartest guy wearing a quarterback uniform in the NFL. His decision-making, his reading of defenses and his accuracy are something to behold.
And he calls more audibles in one game than Linsdsay Lohan has failed drug and alcohol rehabs.
This gives him a distinct advantage over most every defense in the league because he can see their defensive call as he comes to the line and can make a change based on what he sees.
Even if his antics at times looks almost comical, it is effective. And Peyton has the complete trust of his coaches and fellow teammates. And he is the only team that I can identify that has their Offensive Coordinator on the field. That ought to be illegal!
This ability will put a huge stress on Denver's defense scheming and especially on first year Defensive Coordinator, 'Wink" Martindale. Although he called a good game last week against Denver's 31 - 14 win over the Seattle Seahawks, let's be honest, Matt Hasselbeck is no Peyton Manning.
Time of Possession!
Keeping Peyton and the Colts offense on the sidelines with long drives will go a long way to negating Manning's abilities. Unfortunately, when Denver scores (which they will need to do a lot) they have to give the ball back to Indy.
Not fair to the rest of the NFL but it is the rule.
For Denver to rack up these clock-eating drives like they did last week, they have to get four to five yards on first down to open up the playbook and keep the Colts defense off balance.
And Kyle Orton and company will have to approach their amazing (for Denver) third down conversion rate of last week (14-20).
Against the Seahawks last week, Denver held the ball for over thirty-seven minutes, a time of possession that will be needed for a chance against Manning and crew.
Ever since Peyton was selected first overall by the Colts in the 1998 draft, this team was being custom-built to Manning's unique skills and talent.
They created one of the best pass-protecting lines in the NFL and have made sure that line has ample talent in reserve to step in and plug any holes to assure Mr. Manning's continuing good health:
RT—Ryan Diem 10 years
RG—Mike Pollack 3rd year, 2nd round draft choice
C—Jeff Saturday 9 years
LG—Jamey Richard 3rd year
LT—Charles Johnson 3rd year, 35 starts
As you can see, this is a blend of experience and youth that has been molded to be a brick wall in front of Manning as well as a decent run blocking line for Joseph Addai.and Donald Brown.
Big plays from Big players.
DeMaryius Thomas showed in his NFL debut, that he can be a major factor in Denver's passing game. He has the speed, size and hands to make those 20-plus yard plays, both in deep routes as well as the short passes with a lot of yards after catch to convert them into big plays.
This is not to take anything away from Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney or Eddie Royal (Probable for the game) but I think Bay Bay will be the difference maker because the Colts cornerbacks don't have the size to match up with him.
But this means that the offensive line will have to block for Orton and keep the likes of Dwight Freeney, a sack machine with 87 over his nine year career and three so far this season, from wreaking havoc in the Denver backfield.
This will be a real test for this patchwork line that is getting better but still has some injury issues to overcome and some development to do before they are back where they need to be.
These two gentlemen are among the best at their respective positions in the NFL right now.
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne - 6-0, 198 pounds, has done it all. In his last six years he has had over 1,000 yards per season and has had 52 touchdowns. That speaks volumes to his ability but also the chemistry that he and Peyton have and the trust he has earned as the No. 1 in this explosive offense.
Tight end Dallas Clark - 6-3, 252 pounds. You know this guy can play tight end when you read all over the sports blogs and draft reviews the term "Dallas Clark-like tight end".
He has the hands, the size and the cajones to make the tough catch over the middle in traffic but he also has the speed to make a difficult match-up for opposing linebackers and Safeties. He has over 4,000 yards and over 40 touchdowns so far in his eight years in the league.
And he can block like an offensive tackle.
Wide receiver Pierre Garcon - 6-0, 210 pounds, is in his 3rd year and really came into his own last year with 765 yards and four touchdowns. He is athletic and a more than adequate replacement for the irreplaceable Marvin Harrison.
This trio of pass catchers will be a very difficult assignment for the Denver defense and may push the over/under into triple figures. (Just kidding!).
And with both cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman dinged up, the Denver defense will have to play a flawless game.
Put him on the ground!
This will be one of the ways that Denver has a chance of maintaining ownership of their house. Putting Peyton on his backside with aggressive but smart play from the front seven but also great coverage from the backs.
Robert Ayers and company are going to have to make up for Dumervil being out of the building and make every play a challenge for Manning.
This is much easier said than done, with his offensive line and his receiving corps plus that great intelligence and quick release.
But Peyton is not the most mobile of quarterbacks and if he can be flushed or not given targets to throw to, he can be brought down.
Even though Manning has shown great resiliency, if he does go down, Curtis Painter doesn't have the experience to carry the Colts to a victory, in my humble opinion.
Not wishing any bad injury to Manning but if we see more of Painter and this kind of play, it might be the best chance for the Broncos to win this one.
The biggest reason for a Denver Bronco victory,
Denver has the best fans in the NFL ....and this is OUR house and no one has signed the title over to Manning or anyone else.
Another tragedy hit the Bronco community this week with the passing of one of our own, Kenny McKinley.
I know this is weighing heavily on us all but there is still a game to be played Sunday and I am sure it will be dedicated to him, whether officially or in spirit.
Rest in Peace, Kenny. We will miss you and your smile and all that might have been, in life as well as football.