PERTINENT DATA: 10-6 last year, won AFC South, lost at home to stupid Jets in wild card round of playoffs; 18 to 1 odds to win Super Bowl XLVI.
BEST CASE SCENARIO (Raven): Plain and simple, best case scenario for the Colts is Peyton Manning is not crippled and can play every game. Beyond that happening, they are fucked.
WORST CASE SCENARIO (Neil): The Colts are a dying empire, an empire which has survived for so long because all of its people have been delirious acolytes of a Cult of Personality, a cult built around one man – Peyton Manning. But now Peyton is old and falling apart and when he breaks down so will the Colts. To their credit, they seem to at least recognize this, but for some bizarre reason they don’t seem all that interested in improving their infrastructure or taking care of all the little things to ensure that their empire will at least remain a functional, viable state following the collapse of their dear leader. No. Instead, the Colts seem willing to ride Peyton Manning’s corpse right into the abyss. They’re just going to close their eyes and plug their ears, drown out the rest of the world and pretend that he’s going to live forever, like some mythic god king or like The Great Willie Young. But Peyton Manning is just a man and this year could very well mark the beginning of the end of his long and prosperous football life and of the Colts staggering collapse into the land of sadness. He already might miss a couple of games for the first time in his career thanks to a nagging injury and when he’s out the Colts will likely be exposed as the secretly weak paper empire they always have been. But . . . but . . . he’ll come back, you say, and you’re probably right, but let’s say that injury lingers or Peyton takes a vicious blindside hit and separates a shoulder (which, I understand, is something that happens to quarterbacks. Ahem. Excuse me while I slit my own throat.) What then? Well, I’ll tell you what: it will be Kerry Collins time and if you think the Colts are winning anything with Kerry Collins as their starting quarterback you’re fucking nuts. Yeah, they still have some decent receivers, but how much of their perceived worth is a direct result of Peyton Manning? I mean, everybody was talking about Dallas Clark as the best tight end in football and then he got hurt and his backup, Jacob Tamme, went out and put up pretty much the exact same numbers as Clark. Reggie Wayne is the real deal, but he’s getting old too and his days as a gamebreaker are probably done. Austin Collie? Pierre Garcon? Who even knows? They’re good second and third options with Peyton Manning throwing them the ball, but what happens when Peyton Manning turns into Kerry Collins? I suspect Austin Collie and Pierce Garcon turn into a shit sandwich and a turd stain. Perhaps that is a little too harsh, but it’s a harsh world and none of us can afford to be naïve. And that’s why, I’m sorry to say to all the Colts fans out there, you Hoosier animals, that the Colts could be headed for one of those 6-10 “Oh shit, it’s finally over, just like that” seasons. I’m not saying it’s likely, but I’m saying the potential is there for that shit to happen and once it does, you’re not coming back for a looooong time.
PLAYER TO PULL FOR (Raven): At first discovery, the fact there's a black dude named Pierre Garcon is like whoa to most people. But being I have been doing a ton of secret nerd stat bullshit for my own website regarding college football, you might find it even more interesting that Garcon comes from the most dominant college football team in the past 15 years. No, we're not talking about an SEC team or crappy Ohio State, though it is located in Ohio. Since 1993, the might Purple Raiders of Mount Union College have won 10 NCAA Division III championships, and have lost the title game in another four of those years. They've either been the winner or runner-up every year since the 2000 season. That's the type of small college juggernaut Pierre Garcon came from, so not only is he small college crafty (probably due to the lack of boosterisms and higher quality of education at a smaller liberal arts school), but he knows how to win. And with a racist QB like Peyton Manning as your QB, you need as socially graceful a black guy at WR as possible. But I'll let Neil flesh out Peyton's bullshit.
PLAYER TO HATE MOST (Neil): Peyton Manning seems like a loveable good ol’ boy to most of the media, but to me he seems like a humorless prick, one of those uptight control freaks who was born to work as, like, a shift manager at Home Depot or something. You know the type, the one who’s over-serious and is always riding his people for dumb shit, the sort of dude who reads books like How to be a Better Boss and pays a few hundred bucks to attend weekend seminars hosted by burnt out hucksters who take his money and tell him that he has to be the boss, the authority, the firm hand, and says shit like “They’re not your friends. They’re your employees,” like all the rest of his coworkers are just dumb animals or children or some shit. Meanwhile, those same co-workers are pissing in his coffee cup during their break because he’s such a soulless asshole and then sniggering at him while they watch him with that whiney little sneer on his face as he sips his piss filled coffee. And then, of course, because they treat him like the miserly prick he is, he goes ahead and uses that as evidence that they need a strong boss, not realizing the whole time that the only reason they don’t respect him isn’t because they aren’t inherently respectful people but because he is completely unworthy of their respect. He’s completely incapable of proving to them that he should be the man. Instead, he just thinks he deserves that shit. Look, there’s a reason why Peyton Manning never wins the big one (well, other than that one time and let’s not forget that “that one time” came when he beat Rex fucking Grossman, so . . .) and there’s a reason why he always looks like he’s pitching a bitch fit to his teammates, and it’s because, deep down, Peyton Manning is a soulless loser, and if I’m being honest, a bit of a bitch. Let’s all remember this infamous quote:
“Here we are. I'm out at my third Pro Bowl, I'm about to go in and throw a touchdown to Jerry Rice, we're honoring the Hall of Fame, and we're talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off. The sad thing is, he's a good kicker. He's a good kicker. But he's an idiot."
Remember that shit? Those are not the words of a natural leader. Yeah, Mike Vanderjagt said some dumb shit, but he was frustrated because the Colts had just folded again, just like they always do, but rather than deal with that like a man, Peyton flipped out and whined and bitched and insulted his teammate. For better or worse, Peyton Manning was the leader of that fucking team and when you’re the leader, you have to rise above that shit. Remember a few months back when Zack Follett called Matthew Stafford a China Doll and everyone went nuts? Stafford laughed that shit off and everything was cool. He didn’t throw a hissy fit and say something like “Yeah, that idiot Follett got all liquored up and ran his mouth.” Like, how dare Mike Vanderjagt speak his mind? How dare he criticize King Peyton for folding under pressure for the billionth time? Should Vanderjagt have said that shit publicly? No, probably not but Peyton Manning should have known better and kept his cool. The man has no poise, no class and no sense of how to be a leader. He just doesn’t. He just glares at the people he perceives to be beneath him and sips his piss coffee.
BEST NAME ON TEAM: Pat Angerer, because it sounds like he makes people angry, but it also sounds like somebody doesn't know you upgrade to -est as a suffix when you are trying to be even more than an -er word.
IN A PERFECT WORLD (Neil): Writing this has made me remember why I have never liked Peyton Manning all along and why I have always rooted against the Colts since he’s been their quarterback. Fuck the Colts. I hope Manning misses half the season and then comes back only to put on a Favre in 2011 display complete with a billion interceptions and a billion agonized bitchface looks. I hope the Colts go 4-12 and Manning whines about every single one of his teammates, his coaches and the fans, forever damaging his own legacy and proving once and for all to everyone that he’s nothing but a spoiled little rich boy, the golden boy who’s never had to get dirty with his teammates. He’s that Captain in Vietnam who gets fragged by his own platoon. He’s that dude who doesn’t know how to relate to his own men because he was never one of them. He never scratched and clawed and fought to get where he is. He just popped out of his mama into Archie’s arms and Archie groomed him to be nothing but a golden arm and then that golden arm took him straight to Tennessee – where he lost every single big game he played, remember – and then it took him to the NFL. Is Peyton Manning mentally tough? Yeah, I think so, but it is a selfish sort of toughness, an unbendable toughness which is completely incapable of molding itself to the needs of anyone else. The dude tries but he’s never been a normal dude so he has no idea how to relate to normal dudes. He drinks beer and wears blue jeans but it always seems like a costume. Aside from being a football player, who is Peyton Manning? That’s all he ever was and all he’ll ever be and that might seem commendable to some of you, but shit, to be a leader you need to be more than just a football player. You need to be a man, and men accept their own failings and they work with the failings and abilities of others and they find a way to make shit right. They don’t demand that the world exist on their terms and then throw a bitchfit every time it doesn’t. I know I have gotten carried away here, but seriously, fuck Peyton Manning.
PROGNOSIS (Raven): Even with not much of a supporting cast for Manning on offense, and a defense that is starting to wane back to mediocre again, an 11-5 season is likely, with another win in the lackluster AFC South, because no one else in that division is really built to challenge them just yet. But it'll be another wild card round home game loss early exit in the playoffs again. Peyton's window is starting to get painted shut.