Peyton Manning played with an injury, everybody! That had to be it because the great Peyton Manning couldn't play that bad in a playoff game. A reasoned conclusion if you ignore the mountain of evidence and years (and years) of previous playoff failures. No, it had to be a (expletive) injury.
Not that I'm surprised. At all. (If you're still with me, you might have groaned by now and said, "Not more Peyton bashing." Yes, more Peyton bashing. Am I not allowed to enjoy this? Must I ignore it? The loss happened and I'm required to talk about it.) But you knew that was coming. You knew Manning couldn't let Aaron Rodgers enjoy all the injury glory. Amazingly, reports surfaced about Manning's injury shortly after the Broncos lost to the Colts. Because as the Joker always said, "You need an ace in the hole."
For Manning, it was his injury. Not that I doubt him, but look around, dude. Quarterbacks play hurt all the time. Tony Romo broke his back at some point this season, and Cam Newton was in a pretty serious car accident. Neither leaned on injuries as an excuse. Peyton wasn't shy about it. I'm surprised he didn't show up to his presser with a brace on his leg just to drive the point home.
But it seems like a pretty convenient excuse. Especially when you use the advanced stats from Pro Football Focus. Manning received negative grades in seven of his last 10 games according to PFF; well before Week 15 when he left the game against the Chargers.
Here's the funny thing. There are a lot of pundits who make excuses for Manning. It's true, and none of them feel this injury is a big deal for next year. Of course they don't. Nothing can stop Manning. Not even Father Time! Sure, he'll be 39, but lots of people get better in their late 30s. Derek Jeter enjoyed his best season as a Yankee in 2014. Kobe Bryant has been unstoppable for the Lakers this year. Tiger Woods! Better. Than. Ever.
All of this is insane, but what can you expect? Nobody has called out Manning before. Well, other than Dameshek and me. But you know whose scrutiny he can't escape? The Madden ratings. Manning lost two more points this week. He's down to a 93 OVR. He might even lose another point from his couch this week.
Moving on up
Kam Chancellor moved up. You knew he was going to. His OVR is 94. But what about his jump, right? It was the first thing I looked for this week when I got the ratings. Even before I looked up Peyton's noodle arm rating. Chancellor is up two in jumping with 94, which I guess makes sense. Props to EA for having Chancellor with a 92 jump. He was pretty good, but find a way to make him a 99. You have to.
Davante Adams improved three points to a 77 OVR. Adams had seven receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. He wasn't a top-10 rookie, but he's now one of Rank's 11 sleepers for the 2015 season. He improves if Randall Cobb leaves as a free agent.
Luke Willson is up three points to 83 OVR. Have the Seahawks found their tight end? I would hate to lose a bunch of "Luke Wilson the actor" jokes for #ThatHelpsNoOne. Only because Akbar always gets those jokes. (No, he doesn't.)
Moving on down
We already covered Peyton, and I don't care about anything else. Trent Richardson did move down a point, though (75 OVR). He didn't even play in the game.
Great Caesar's Ghost
Congratulations, Russell Wilson, you are now at 90 OVR. He moved up two points. But why wasn't he a 90 before? He's got the highest playoff passer rating in history. The Seahawks are 25-2 at home with him at quarterback. Wilson doesn't have a giveaway in the red zone in six postseason games. I don't get it.
Great Caesar's Ghost II
Odell Bechkham Jr. did not move up this week. I know, he didn't play a game. I don't care. That didn't stop me. I did end up rebooting my dynasty in NCAA Football 2014. But I noticed OBJ's rating could use a little bit of a boost, so I fixed that, too, as you can see.
I need to fix his throwing, too. I might adjust his kicking, too. We need help in that area.
Six bold predictions for Sunday
5.Andrew Luck will throw some picks. He has eight career interceptions against the Patriots; the most against any opponent. He has thrown five lifetime against the Titans. He plays the Titans twice a year.
4.Aaron Rodgers will pull a Byron Leftwich. He will have some teammates drag him down the field. (Yahoo!'s Brad Evans made this quip last week.) But it's a solid thought and the only progression he can make. But here's my deal: Doesn't Rodgers make tons of money from that insurance company? Can't he go down to Dick's Sporting Goods to buy a foam roller? Enough of this already.
3. An NFL running back has rushed for four touchdowns in a game three times since the start of 2013. Twice it was a Patriots running back against the Colts. LeGarrette Blount in the 2013 Divisional Round, and, of course, Jonas Gray earlier this year. So Shane Vereen gets his chance, right? I mean, it seems so obvious it could be one of the other two guys. Even as we joke, Brandon Bolden is getting ready for his close-up.
1. Week 1 opponents have met in the conference title game six times in NFL history. The Week 1 winner is 6-0 in Conference Championship games, but that is akin to comparing tacos and bananas. None of those games have any impact on Sunday. It only matters to those who believe the Seahawks will win. I'm one of those people. I like the Seahawks in a close game.
Bonus prediction. This will be a "Star Wars" spoiler, so don't read on if you're avoiding everything from "Episode VII" and "Star Wars Rebels." But, I have a feeling Ezra is going to be the baddy in the "Force Awakens." Remember the crazy lightsaber from the trailer? Now think about the lightsaber Ezra just built. Huh? Huh? I'll take your answer off the air!