When the Divisional Playoffs were determined, initially I wasn’t that excited for the Broncos-Colts game. The last two times they’ve played have been decent games — the Colts won, 39-33, in 2013 and the Broncos won this year (season opener) in a game where the Colts had to rush back to make the score seem close — but I just looked at the Colts and thought, “Well, Andrew Luck is good, and he no doubt has some weapons, but they get waxed in big spots oddly.” (Think of their games vs. the Patriots and Cowboys this year.)
Then I started thinking about the WWE storyline aspect to this game: Peyton Manning is the ultimate competitor in some respects, so he’ll never come out and tell the media he’s retiring (he says basically the opposite), but you can see a situation where this right here could be his final game. He’s 38 or so, he’s owed $19 million next year, he didn’t look great towards the end of the season, etc. If they lose to the Colts today and look bad in the process, maybe he walks away — or maybe the Broncos punt on him. (Not likely, since it does appear from every media report that John Elway is deeply in love with him.)
So what if the young buck from Manning’s old team was at the controls for the game that drives Manning out of pro football? That’s some Vince McMahon-Vince Russo type shit, right?
I still think the Broncos probably win this game, and that sets up another cool storyline — the 2015 AFC Championship Game is Brady vs. Manning Version 912,732, but probably the last one. That’ll be interesting, but I’ll write a blog about that next week (probably, I’m a sucker for storylines).
In a way, though, Manning losing today and walking away would be perfect. Consider:
- Manning has eight ‘one-and-dones’ in his playoff career; that’s twice any other QB.
- Seven of those came as QB of the Colts.
- His overall playoff record is 11-12; he was 9-10 with the Colts (1 Super Bowl, 1 Super Bowl loss).
If Manning were to lose today, it would be something Colts fans somewhat came to expect by the end of his tenure there — although this time, the loss would actually be propelling the Colts forward. Kind of poetic, no?
And despite another late-30s QB winning yesterday (Brady), an Andrew Luck victory on the road would set up a nice narrative of “For the NFL and QBs, youth beats experience almost all the time.”
Peyton Manning, as a competitor, likely wants to go out on the same terms as his current boss (Elway) — with a Super Bowl run and victory there. If they won it all this year, I’d almost guarantee he retires (I know nothing). But when you factor in his rather ordinary playoff history, maybe the truly perfect ending is for him to go out right here — another loss, another one-and-done, at the hands of youth and his long-time home.