Commentary

The Peyton Manning effect

Projecting Manning's impact for eight teams, including Jets, Chiefs and 49ers

Originally Published: March 6, 2012
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider
Peyton ManningDavid Drapkin/AP PhotosPeyton Manning will be the NFL's marquee free agent when he's released by the Colts.

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NFL teams turn over roughly 25 percent of their rosters every season. That means a typical 53-man roster from Week 17 of last season would have about 15 players who were with the team to start 2009. So from 2003 to 2009, the Indianapolis Colts would have employed roughly 143 different players, as well as two different coaches. Amid this turnover, the Colts were a model of consistency, winning 12 or more games for an NFL-record seven consecutive seasons.

That's good. In fact, no other team has ever come close. It nearly doubles the similar streak by the 1992-95 Dallas Cowboys and is quietly the most dominant regular-season stretch we'll ever see. Some perspective: The Browns won 12 games in a season once since 1949; the Colts did it seven straight years. That all revolves around Peyton Manning, of course. Including the 2001 season, Manning started every game of a 12-year stretch in which the Colts won 10-plus games 11 times. He has only one ring, but Manning has actually been the steadiest (combining health and performance) season-to-season winner to ever play.

He has the highest weighted career value, and his career winning percentage is fifth all-time. Those would be even better, discounting a 3-13 rookie season in which he started every game. The evidence points to this: If healthy, Manning will make your team win. The sources I have confirm Manning can be a healthy QB in 2012. He's played for too long, with so many players and under enough coaches, with the same results to argue otherwise.

How much would a healthy Manning help eight possible suitors? We asked AccuScore for some projections. We'll offer the reasoning behind what we see.

Arizona Cardinals

We used Kevin Kolb as the control here, and suffice to say Manning is a massive improvement. Arizona QBs completed 55.8 percent of passes in 2011; Manning hasn't completed less than 62 percent since his rookie season. His presence makes the Cardinals the odds-on favorite in the NFC West, even ahead of the Niners, who are expected to be good but regress a tad in 2012.


To see how much Manning would help eight possible teams, including the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, sign up to become an Insider.