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I want to thank Nick Signorelli for the following comparison that I took directly from his article New Stats to Prove Ben Roethlisberger is Better Than Peyton Manning.
Were the Steelers really the better team at that point?
Overall Record (Not Playoffs):
Offense Rank (Average):
Indianapolis: Eighth (Colts' offense was ranked 19th in Manning's rookie season. Take that out, they would have been ranked third)
Defensive Rank (Average):
It is clear that in these time periods, the Steelers were the better defensive team, while the Colts were the better offensive team. Both by large margins.
Is that directly related to the players? Let's take a look at how the Colts and Steelers spend their money.
Colts. Offense, $53.65 million. Defense, $28.75 million
Here are the top salaries of the Colts from this past year.
Peyton Manning (QB)—$18.7 million
Bob Sanders (S)—$8.75 million
Robert Mathis (DE)—$6.8 million
Reggie Wayne (WR)—$6.6 million
Ryan Diem (OL)—$6.3 million
Dwight Freeney (DE)—$5.75 million
Jeff Saturday (C)—$5.2 million
Raheem Brock (DT)—$4.72 million
Gary Brackett (LB)—$2.73 million
Dallas Clark (TE)—$2.5 million
Adam Vinatieri (K)—$2.35 million
Steelers. Offense, $37.4 million. Defense, $37.8 million
Ben Roethlisberger (QB)—$8 million
Troy Polamalu (S)—$6.8 million
Hines Ward (WR)—$6.7 million
Max Starks (OL)—$6.6 million
Casey Hampton (DT)—$6.4 million
Ike Taylor (CB)—$5.75 million
Aaron Smith (DE)—$4.75 million
James Farrior (LB)—$4.5 million
Willie Parker (RB)—$4.1 million
Brett Keisel (DE)—$4 million
Ryan Clark (S)—$2.2 million
This makes it clear the Colts spend most of its money on the offensive side of the ball, which would obviously put more talent on the offense. The Steelers evenly distribute the wealth on both sides of the ball.
Can you imagine Roethlisberger with a serious offensive line in front of him?
Advantage: Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers