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Pi Network

Draft King Analysis
February 6, 2012
Lou Pickney,

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Before you can truly appreciate what the New York Giants did in winning Super Bowl 46 (and can we please retire the use of roman numerals for both the Super Bowl and WrestleMania?), you have to go back to one week before Christmas 2011 to see the place from which the unlikely run for the Giants began.

Flashback to 12/18/2011: The Giants lost a home game to the division rival Washington Redskins, an embarrassing 23-10 beating in which Eli Manning threw three interceptions. The Giants, playing in what seemed at the time to have been a grossly overhyped division, had endured a sweep by Washington (who were 3-9 in games not against the Giants at that point) and sat at 7-7. With injuries having caused problems in everything from the passing game to the defense, particularly the front seven, they hardly seemed like a team that would catch fire. But, in football as in life, timing is everything.

Eli Manning caught fire, the defense regained their sparks, the Giants won the battle of NYC (held yet again in New Jersey) over the Jets and then beat the Cowboys in a "win or go home" season finale, earning the #4 seed in the NFC. The rest is history: beating the Falcons on Wild Card Weekend, shocking the 15-1 Packers in Green Bay, and then going into San Francisco and knocking off Jim Harbaugh's upstart surprise squad out of the NFC West.

As for the Super Bowl, I suspect that if you didn't see it, you probably wouldn't have much interest in reading this column. But what Eli Manning did in the playoffs is perhaps best viewed in hindsight: in four games he threw for nine touchdowns against only one interception. Accuracy matters more than ever for NFL quarterbacks, and Manning came through in a major way in front of the world in Indianapolis, completing 30-of-40 passes en route to a second NFL MVP award.

But now it's Monday, the 2011 NFL season is over, and we have free agency and the 2012 NFL Draft on the docket. That means busy season for me really cranks up now, which is a welcome distraction from the annual forthcoming NFL detox that I (and many, many other pro football fans) endure on an annual basis.

The storyline that in some ways overshadowed the Super Bowl this past week was what has been described as a rapidly deteriorating relationship between Colts QB Peyton Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay, whose Twitter page has become one of the more amusing recent developments in the NFL social media world. Irsay recently cleaned house on the management side, jettisoning Bill Polian and Chris Polian.

There are "unified statements" from Irsay and Manning that have been released, but there also have been several media leaks concerning Manning's health and his ability to ever play in the NFL again. Neck fusion and nerve damage is nothing to treat in a trifling manner, though there were whispers about Manning having been cleared by doctors to return to action.

There is clearly interest in Manning within multiple organizations, with reports that Miami and Washington (among others) would be interested in signing him. Something to keep in mind is that a healthy Manning playing for a team other than the Colts eliminates one of only 32 starting QB spots in the league. Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton and the rest of the forthcoming unrestricted free agent quarterbacks stand to benefit from Manning staying with the Colts.

Also, the Colts can't trade Peyton Manning due to his complicated, front-loaded contract. This post from Pro Football Talk reports that Manning expects to be released ahead of the $28 million roster bonus he will be do if he's still with the Colts on March 8, less than a week before the start of free agency. We'll all find out soon enough what the Colts will decide to do and if their decision will impact the QB free agent market.


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