The Colts and Saints are the first teams in NFL history to enter Week 14 undefeated at the same time. In past years, we've had teams that have managed to win 13 straight games to start the season, but never two at the same time. This says alot about the level of coaching, quality of players, and the ability to bring it every week.
These two teams actually mirror each other quite well in some regards:
Both have Pro Bowl, record setting Quarterbacks
Both have brand new defensive coordinators that have had a profound impact on this year's team
Both have top notch offenses
Both have good, solid Head Coaches who are willing to trust their players
So now we come to the heart of the debate, the MVP race. Sure, there are a few other players whose names you could throw in the mix. Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, Chris Johnson, and for the sake of argument, Phillip Rivers. Unfortunately, none of those players by themselves, are as individually important to their team's success as Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.
Peterson - Led the league in rushing last year despite a fairly average passing attack and stellar defense.
Favre - Has one of the top rated defenses in the league, one of the best RB's in the league, and has a QB on the bench who was the starter last year.
Chris Johnson - was a running force duo with LenDale White last year.
Phillip Rivers - was actually lost in the playoffs along with LT and the Chargers won handily over the Colts.
So while all of these guys are playing very, very, very good....the loss to their teams while big, would not immediately derail their postseason. However, Brees and Manning ARE the reasons as to why their respective teams are undefeated.
The biggest single difference for the NFC's #1 passer is the way his team is playing on defense. Virtually the same team personnel wise from last year's 8-8 team, this year's team has been transformed by the arrival of Gregg Williams. This has enabled Brees to play under less stress of having to carry the team on his own.
- 69.9% Completion
- 3,832 yards at 8.9 ypc
- 294.8 ypg averaging 33.2 passes per game
- Passer Rating: 112.3%
- 32 TDs - 10 INTs - 4 Fumbles Lost
- Sacked 15 times for 99 yards lost
- #1 Offense overall, #1 Scoring offense, #3 Passing offense, and #5 Rushing offense
- #4 Offense on 3rd Down Conversion
- Overall Opponents Record: 68-101
- Has played 2 of the Top 10 scoring defenses (will play a 3rd this weekend)
- Has played 6 of the Top 15 overall defenses (will play a 7th this weekend)
- Has played 6 games vs. Top 15 scoring offenses (will play a 7th this weekend)
NFC South more Team W L T Win % New Orleans 13 0 0 1.000 Atlanta 6 7 0 .462 Carolina 5 8 0 .385 Tampa Bay 1 12 0 .077
Last year's MVP, he started off on a torrid pace of throwing the ball. He's cooled as of late, but that hasn't stopped him from marching higher in the record books. No Marvin Harrison, no Anthony Gonzalez, two players with zero starts at WR, no problem. He's your league leader in yards, 2nd in TD's, and still is one of the least sacked QB's in the NFL.
- 68.1% Completion (Prior to the Broncos game, this was 70.4%)
- 3,905 yards at 7.8 ypc
- 300.4 ypg average 38.6 passes per game
- Passer Rating 98.9
- 29 TDs - 14 INTs - 0 Fumbles Lost
- Sacked 10 times for 74 yards lost
- #4 Overall offense, #5 Scoring offense, #1 Passing offense, and #30 Rushing offense
- #1 Offense on 3rd Down Conversion
- Overall Opponents Record: 81-88
- Has played 4 of the Top 10 scoring defenses
- Has played 4 of the Top 15 overall defenses
- Has played 7 games vs. Top 15 scoring offenses
AFC South more Team W L T Win % Indianapolis 13 0 0 1.000 Jacksonville 7 6 0 .538 Tennessee 6 7 0 .462 Houston 6 7 0 .462
***Overall record of opponents was calculated by adding up number of wins for each team that was played. This DOES include any team that was played twice.***
Looking at all of these stats, there are 3 significant differences in these two comparisons
- The Colts have played much better competition thru the first 13 games. This is no way the fault of the Saints, but the tougher competition has hurt Manning's stats far more than Brees.
- While Brees has fewer INT's than Manning, both QB's have 14 turnovers a piece.
- The Saints offense as a whole is able to take more of the load off of Brees due to their ability to run the ball. The two single worst games of the season for Manning include a 345 yard and no TD/no INT game....and 220 yard and 4TD/3 INT game. Brees worst games include 2 games where he failed to throw a TD or generate 200 yards passing, and a 1 TD/3 INT game against the Dolphins.
Ultimately, you can argue the stats until you are blue in the face. You can make all the arguments about Brees or Manning and odds are, you'd be right about what you say.
However, here's what you cannot change....
Manning has had to do more with a lot less. Defenses have known the Colts would not or could not run constantly and still could not stop Manning. Manning is without his #2 and #3 WR's from a year ago. His running game is one of the worst in the league. Yet, he is the least sacked QB in the league (playing all 13 games). He has averaged 300 throwing yards per game.
Let's do this in reverse. Take your team, whoever you root for. Let's use the Cardinals for this example. You will lose (#2) Anquan Boldin and (#3) Steve Breaston for the year. Now, let's see Warner throw almost 4000 yards while only being sacked 10 times.
It just goes without saying that the Colts and Saints both rely very heavily on their QB's. Both teams would be extremely lucky to win a playoff game with their backup QB as the starter, let alone make it to the SB.
As a Colts fan, it would be easy to label me a Homer in picking Manning. That is okay with me. However, I would be just as happy to see Brees and Manning share this. Personally, I think Manning has had to more this year by himself than he had to do last year, when he actually won the MVP.
Please feel free to discuss.