Oh no, somebody is going to get fired at EA Sports this week. Peyton Manning is down to a 97 rating. You read that correctly: he's down to a 97 rating. And if there is one thing I've learned over the years covering football it's that people don't like to be told Manning is anything less than perfect.
I can only imagine citizens in Denver (and maybe a few stragglers in Indianapolis, too) will organize dumpster fires this week to burn their copies of 'Madden NFL 15' in protest of Manning no longer being a part of Club 99. This actually happened a few weeks back, but in fairness to Donny Moore and the fine folks at EA Sports, I didn't want to call them out on it. I figured it would be a one-week blip and the powers that be would instruct them to continue to shovel the hot garbage that Manning is the best quarterback in the game right now. But now that he's down to a 97 OVR, the journalist in me had to report it. (Hahaha, could you imagine if I really thought of myself as a journalist?)
Manning took some ratings hits this week in STR (strength), THA (throwing accuracy) and TAS (throwing accuracy short) among others. I have long suggested they have a "noodle arm" rating, but I guess I'll just have to settle for these ratings right here.
The rating is pretty fair, too. I know even the most ardent of Manning fan boys (like our own Akbar) will have to admit he's looked a little more, uh, veteran in the past couple of weeks. He's still a great quarterback, mind you. But there comes a time in every quarterback's life when he can no longer do the things he was once able to do. Even Manning in his heart of hearts knows this, too.
Manning politely demurred to C.J. Anderson this week against the Bills. Manning threw for less than 200 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions to snap a streak that had reached 51 straight games with a touchdown. The Broncos won and Anderson looked like a champ. It also symbolized the Broncos' best chance to win a Super Bowl this year; and that would be to take the ball out of Manning's hands.
Not that he should be embarrassed about it. John Elway learned the same thing when Terrell Davis became the focal point of the Broncos offense. Elway had carried the team for years and willed some not-so-great Broncos teams to AFC Championship Games and Super Bowls that they had no business being in. (And Elway being excluded from the 'best of all-time' conversations is completely egregious considering the lack of talent that often surrounded him.) But when he finally ceded control to Davis, well, it's no surprise he finally got his long-awaited Super Bowl title. Two, in fact.
So Manning now has the formula for a championship. But you have to wonder if he'll take it. I imagine Anderson is punished this week as Manning throws the ball 60 times in San Diego. This being Manning and all.
Moving on up
Frostee Rucker is up three points to 78 OVR, and this was before Thursday night's beat down of the St. Louis Football Club. And I will call a 12-6 win a beat down considering how much air was taken out of the ball. I don't know how the Birds continue to do it. I mean, we could see Kurt Warner back there flinging the rock again.
Derek Carr is up two points to a 79 OVR. He's looked like the best rookie quarterback so far this season. He makes that Oakland job attractive, even if it's about the only thing that looks good. The stadium situation is pretty bad and they need to figure that thing out right quick.
Moving on down
Oh, you mean besides Peyton Manning? (I'm serious, even the most ardent of Manning supporters won't be able to muster up the energy to get angry at me this week.)
Great Caesar's Ghost
Colin Kaepernick is now an 83 OVR, which is down three points. I don't like this. You know how sometimes somebody not very good at the game will pick up a great team and not be able to make it work? That's how I feel the 49ers season is going. San Francisco has strayed from what has made it so great in the last couple of years. And even then, the club is 7-6. That would give them a three-game lead in the NFC South. But because the 49ers are locked in with the two best teams in the NFC, they look anemic by comparison.
What I really don't get is why they don't let Colin run more. Look at him. He's built like a brick (expletive) house. He's not RG3 out there. Colin can take some hits. I mean, I don't want him to run the rock like 40 times a game, but some limited attempts would probably benefit him and the 49ers a lot.
Great Caesar's Ghost II
Great Caesar's Ghost III
I don't know how this really fits into this column, but Bruce Arians is the greatest. I figured out last night that he kind of looks like how Kurt Sutter would look as a football coach. Arians kind of sounded like Sutter after last night's game, too. He really had a chip on his shoulder as he called out Jeff Fisher and that program for always being 8-8, and said the defense read too many of its own press clippings. The only thing he didn't do was call them a bunch of (expletives) because that's what Sutter would have done.
But don't feel bad for Fisher. He was the one who trolled Washington last week when he chose the six guys selected with the picks received from the RG3 trade to be team captains. Hey, turnabout is fair play. Although, I don't know how funny this is going to be next season when Arians is torching the Los Angeles Rams. I hope our coach Jim Harbaugh won't put up with that.
Six bold predictions for Sunday
6.Johnny Manziel will do something amazing on the field, and he will do something totally befuddling, too. But Manziel will give the Browns something they haven't had in a long time. I expect the Browns to win, mostly because they are going against the Bengals. Although, this doesn't seem like much of a prediction. So Manziel will have a rushing touchdown, 283 passing yards, a long-bomb to Josh Gordon and two interceptions. Browns win 20-17.
5.Mark Sanchez has another fine outing against the Cowboys. The Eagles will take control of the NFC East with a 24-21 win over the hated ones. The Cowboys will have a better defensive game plan for this one, though. But even that will not be enough to slow down Chip Kelly. He's not going to be put in his place for a second consecutive week. And if he is, maybe he will actually look to get back to college. I heard Wisconsin was hiring. Seriously, when did Wisconsin become a stepping-stone job for low-level Pac 12 gigs? I like the Pac-12, but even that surprised me. Well, not too much. Have you been to Corvallis in Oregon? It's rather striking.
4. The 49ers will put out their greatest effort of the season, because that's just the way the NFL rolls. I mean, the Seahawks should win this one going away, but that never works out. Although, Seattle always seems to rise to the occasion against the 49ers. So it would be foolish just to predict the opposite because the NFL can be so volatile at times. But that's just what they want you to believe, isn't it? So that means the 49ers will play the Seahawks close. In fact, it will come down to a final drive by Kaepernick, who gets the ball down to the 5-yard line with just six seconds to play. And then they run that stupid pass play to Michael Crabtree that didn't work in the Super Bowl, didn't work in the 2013 NFC Championship Game and certainly won't work here! STOP RUNNING THAT PLAY! Seahawks win 21-17.
3. Now it's time for my weekly prediction of Jaguars domination! And it's going to happen this week. Look, when teams lose a star player, the team will rally around that before reality sets in. That's what happened last week to the Ravens. Haloti Ngata was suspended for four games, so the team won. The letdown comes this week. And while most will find the loss inexplicable, you'll be all, "Oh, man, that jerk on NFL.com actually called this. I now feel bad about berating him on Twitter." Well, maybe not the last part, but you and I will both know how you feel. Or if by some miracle the Ravens manage to win this game, you'll be on Twitter to crow about how wrong I was. So yeah, it will be one of those two things. Jaguars 23-12.
2. The New England Patriots are the first AFC team to win 11 games. What, their game is the morning game. (Well, for all of us West Coast softies who refer to the first game as the morning game. I can't imagine living in a world where football doesn't start until the afternoon. What do you do with your Sunday morning? I might not even get up until noon if I lived on the East Coast.) Patriots 29-13.
1. Well, I alluded to it. Manning will throw for five touchdowns this week. Tony Dungy will go on Sunday Night Football and say stuff like, "This is why you never doubt the greatness of Peyton Manning." Oblivious (as he always is) to the fact that Manning played his best game as a quarterback last week. Honestly, it was his finest performance as a quarterback ever. And if Dungy had ever used a similar game plan during their time together in Indianapolis, they might have had more than one Super Bowl title. Broncos 35-34.