The chances of Peyton Manning repeating his historic 2013 season are slim anyway. No one has ever thrown 55 touchdown passes in a season for a reason. But after watching the Broncos’ offense struggle in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks, you wonder what kind of season Manning can compile when a fourth of his games will be against the intense defenses of the NFC West.
It was a notion I pondered briefly on Twitter yesterday. One game is not nearly enough of a sample size, of course. But — depending on whatever turnover all the teams involved have — the physical nature of all the defenses in the division seems unlike most of the ones the Broncos play. It certainly seemed that way Sunday. Manning got his completions (34 for 49) but only had 280 yards and one touchdown. In fact the 280-1-2 INT line looked a lot like what a QB might put up in an NFC West game. Something Carson Palmer might do. But Palmer had a much better defense at his disposal.
The NFC West defenses were ranked first (Seattle), fifth (SF), sixth (Arizona) and 15th (St. Louis). Of the 13 teams the Broncos faced in the regular season, eight were ranked 20th or lower, and only two — the Giants and the Texans — were officially top 10 defenses, although both teams struggled all season.
(And before anyone gets it twisted, I am a Peyton believer. He didn’t play well Sunday but that doesn’t take away from him being one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time — which is always going to be a subjective title anyway. No one else has done what he has done in a season like 2013, regardless of the defenses faced. And before anyone in the NFC West can get too high and mighty, remember that the Rams were the only team in the division who didn’t try to sign Manning in 2011.)
We’ll see if the gaudy stats make a comeback. Interestingly enough, the Broncos did see the NFC West this season, kind of. The four-game preseason slate was against all four NFC West teams. But that’s preseason, and with all due respect to Denny Green, it was pretty meaningless, even that third game against the Rams.
In Manning’s long career, the Cardinals have only faced him — truly, without him sitting in a meaningless game — once. That was in a Sunday night game in 2009, when Manning tore them up and the Colts bombed the Cards. Manning is still pretty dang good. But the Cards’ defense is much, much better than that 2009 version. The Broncos do get to host the Cardinals next year (the 49ers also go to Denver; the Broncos visit St. Louis and Seattle.) Already, a subplot emerges for the 2014 season.
Tags: 49ers, Cardinals, defense, NFC West, Peyton Manning, Rams, Seahawks
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Every year ESPN puts together an “Ultimate Standings” list, ranking all the teams in the four main pro sports in categories like “Bang for your buck,” affordability, ownership, fan relations, stadium experience, coaching and players. And the Cardinals did quite well, thank you. The Cards are 19th overall among 122 franchises, and fourth overall in the NFL — behind just the Saints, Colts and Packers (the Saints, coming off their Super Bowl win, are also No. 1 overall). The Cards’ highest marks are in coaching (another good reason the Cards extended Ken Whisenhunt), which comes out seventh among the 122 teams, and “bang for the buck,” which the team is ninth overall. The Cards also are rated as having the sixth-best stadium experience in the NFL (and 18th overall).
Interestingly, the Phoenix Suns — who just had a run to the conference finals — are the lowest rated of the local franchises at No. 47 overall. The Coyotes are one notch ahead of the Cards at No. 18, and the struggling Diamondbacks are still No. 26.
The rest of the NFC West, by the way? The Niners are 77th, the Seahawks 83rd and the Rams 114th — one spot ahead of the Raiders.
Tags: 49ers, Cardinals, Colts, ESPN, Ken Whisenhunt, Packers, Rams, Saints, Seahawks
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