The Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts can’t escape each other. Although the Broncos and Colts’ game on Oct. 20 is their first meeting since 2010, both franchises will be linked for years to come. At the least, their quarterbacks will be linked together, as Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck finally face off for the first time in person tonight.
Technically, Manning and Luck have faced off since the minute Luck entered the NFL last April – and the minute Colts’ owner Jim Irsay let Manning go as a result. After Irsay poked at Manning’s playoff failures in Indianapolis on Twitter this week, it furthered the debate on who truly came out best from last spring’s moves.
Manning had a near MVP season in 2012, yet Luck took the Colts from a 2-14 mark to the playoffs -- but neither of them won a playoff game. This season, Manning could break nearly every single-season record for a quarterback, while the Broncos have been dominant enough for a possible 16-0 run. Nevertheless, Luck has the Colts in first place with big wins over the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, despite poor losses to the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers.
Luck still has an entire career ahead, so he will be proving himself against Manning even after No. 18 retires. But if Manning can win a Super Bowl or two with the Broncos in his final seasons, there’s little Luck can do to top it. For that matter, there would be little Irsay could do to withstand the fire.
ESPN’s Skip Bayless has repeatedly bashed Irsay for choosing Luck, in spite of the Colts success, citing Luck’s low touchdown numbers and accuracy in a column on Oct. 18. Of course, Bayless never cared once about those stats when Tim Tebow won with the Broncos, yet Luck’s wins haven’t earned him the same slack. How long will it be until Indianapolis has similar double standards, if it doesn’t already?
Since Luck has been bringing the Colts back to power, the pressure hasn’t been so bad yet. But eventually, Indianapolis will need to take the next step, which will be much harder with Denver and Manning holding the reigns in the AFC. As such, Luck proving he can beat Manning and the Broncos is that much more important.
Luck gets his first shot starting at 8:30 p.m. est on NBC.