Peyton Manning put up absolutely insane numbers last year. A single-season record 55 touchdowns and a few first downs short of 5,500 yards made for one of the greatest regular seasons in NFL history. And you know what’s crazy? He enters 2014 with something to prove.
He lost to the Indianapolis Colts last season and will have a monster opening game. You can bet the house that Manning has heard all the Andrew Luck headlines, which only add to the already deafening criticism he took for his Super Bowl performance. Atoning for that game and reminding Colts fans of the great quarterback they let go upon Luck’s arrival are both driving forces he’ll use to send a message to open the season.
More tangible, stat-based reasons for Manning’s success are easy to find as well. Last year’s matchup between Manning’s Denver Broncos and the Colts produced 72 points and 763 total yards of offense – three touchdowns and 365 yards of which came through the air by means of Manning’s right arm.
There are few things to worry about, though. Indianapolis’ defense did play well last year – especially against the pass. Wes Welker will miss the first four games, and Eric Decker is currently starting for the New York Jets. But new target Emmanuel Sanders will fill Decker’s role, and Demaryius Thomas will take a step further in his improvement with a year under his belt catching passes from Manning.
And let’s not forget the seven-score performance to open 2013. Manning’s owners can feel comfortable expecting three to four touchdowns and 300-plus yards this week – especially during Sunday Night Football. We can only hope his first touchdown dance looks something like this:
Anthony F. Irwin is an NBA, NFL, MLB and NCAA Football contributor for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Send him an email at Anthony.F.Irwin@gmail.com.