February 5, 2013

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Who Will Be Super Bowl XLVIII Champions?

By: Joe Williams

Well that was fun. Congratulations to Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens for becoming world champions in New Orleans on Sunday. But enough about that. Now, by process of elimination, let’s figure out who is going to win the next one in New York.

Could Eli Manning and the Giants be the first team to play in the Super Bowl on their home field?

No first-timers

Four teams have never appeared in a Super Bowl. Don’t expect that to change. Sorry Cleveland, Detroit, Houston and Jacksonville.

Back-to-back

Only the New England Patriots have been to back-to-back Super Bowls since 1999. It won’t happen next year either. Count out Baltimore and San Francisco.

New coaches

Philadelphia, Arizona, Chicago, Buffalo, Kansas City and San Diego all have new head coaches. They won’t be winning it all next year.

Home-field advantage

No team has reached the Super Bowl when it was played on its home field. That eliminates the New York Giants and New York Jets.

Under .500

I can’t see a team that finished with a losing record this year winning it all next year. Oakland, Tennessee, Miami, Tampa Bay, Carolina, New Orleans and St. Louis are all off the board.

Injuries

Every year a couple teams have their title hopes derailed with injuries to key players. I have randomly determined that those teams will be Cincinnati, Minnesota and Atlanta.

Madden curse

It is widely known that if you are on the cover of the new Madden football game, you are destined for a poor season. I’m predicting they go with a triple cover featuring Andrew Luck, RGIII and Russell Wilson. This would ensure that Indianapolis, Washington and Seattle are not Super Bowl winners a year from now.

A new curse?

Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward and Donald Driver are the three NFL players who have won Dancing With The Stars. All three played for teams who have made a habit of playing in Super Bowls. However, the Steelers, Cowboys and Packers have all failed to reach a Super Bowl since their player won the ballroom dancing competition. Curse or coincidence? I say curse. Goodbye Pittsburgh, Dallas and Green Bay.

Down to 2

So that leaves just the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. Manning vs Brady. The two long-time rivals will give us next year what most were expecting to see this year…an AFC Championship Game showdown. And I see Manning getting the win and playing in the Super Bowl on his brother’s home field. And it will be déjà vu in Denver when a 37-year-old Peyton Manning leads the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory a year after finishing 13-3, getting the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and suffering a  devastating playoff loss. (37-year-old John Elway led the Broncos to a Super Bowl win a year after the 13-3, No. 1 seed Broncos fell 30-27 at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars.) Your Super Bowl XLVIII champions will be the Denver Broncos.

October 3, 2011

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Colts Appear Lost Without Peyton Manning

By: Anson Whaley

Football is often described as the most team-oriented of the major sports. With a total of 22 athletes on the field at the same time, players need to rely on others to do their job more than in any other game. But there are a few players in the NFL that help determine the success of their team a great deal.

One is Peyton Manning.

At 35, Manning is still one of the top quarterbacks in the game. When it was known that he would be out for a while with his neck injury, the Colts went out and brought in veteran Kerry Collins. While Collins has been a serviceable quarterback throughout his career, it’s clear his better days are behind him. Through three games, he’s thrown for only two touchdowns and has completed less than 50% of his passes. And with Collins now out with concussion-like symptoms, the Colts are turning to young backup, Curtis Painter. Both may be capable to a degree, but neither is as qualified as Manning, obviously.

As the Indianapolis Colts sit 0-3 heading into tonight’s Monday night matchup, there’s no question about his importance to the team. With Manning last year, the team was 10-6 and in the playoffs. It’s still early, but at first glance, the playoffs are looking out of reach for this team.

If you need to know just how important Manning is, another indicator besides the record is in the rest of the Indianapolis roster. It doesn’t take long to see there’s clearly talent on the team. There’s Joseph Addai in the backfield, the future Hall of Famer Reggie Wayne at wideout, and defensive playmakers Dwight Freeney, Pat Angerer, Robert Mathis, and Antoine Bethea. The point is that even with considerable talent, the Colts are still failing. Miserably. Yes, the Colts are a year older, but this team is largely the same as it was in 2010 … and that team was 10-6 and reached the postseason. Some dropoff can be expected if an already veteran team gets a year older, but the change in the 2011 version of the Colts is night and day from the 2010 squad.

Manning isn’t simply a good player, he’s a leader. Sure, he can still provide guidance from the sidelines and during practices, but his impact is obviously going to be limited. It’s not the same with him out of the huddle and maybe more importantly, Manning also has to be careful to not encroach into the territory too much since the players need to rely on their current quarterbacks, Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter for leadership. There’s no question that neither has the talent of Manning, but they still need to be able to instill their own types of leadership while on the field – especially because it’s looking more and more like he could be out the entire season.

So the question becomes, “Is the season lost for the Colts?” There’s talk that Manning could potentially be back in December. It’s pretty clear that there would be a certain amount of rust to shake off, but I believe that Manning could be pretty effective with little game action. He’s been playing football long enough that with a bit of practice time, he should ready to go fairly quickly. A December return could give Manning that needed preparation time to get ready for, you guessed it, the playoffs.

The only problem is that the Colts actually need to be in striking distance. Since it’s not known when in December Manning might be ready, let’s assume he gets back by the middle of the month in time for the Colts’ December 18th matchup against the Tennessee Titans. Indianapolis has ten games up to that point and, realistically, probably need to win six of them at the very least. That would put them at 6-7 and with wins in their final three games, would give the Colts a 9-7 record. Of course, with what we’ve seen so far, winning six out of ten is going to be easier said than done – especially considering Indianapolis has some stiff competition over that span with road games against New Orleans, New England, and Baltimore, and a home contest against the Falcons.

And even if Indy is somehow able to win six games, that still means Manning needs to pitch a shutout and win the final three games of the season to get that 9-7 mark. In addition, that assumes that 9-7 is even good enough to get in the playoffs.

When you add it all up, the playoffs are looking like a long shot this season for Peyton and Indy.