The story lines will abound as the Colts get ready to take on the Broncos. Most notably, longtime Colt and current Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning will be taking on his former team for the third time, though the stakes have never been higher - as it's the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Many fans and many in the media will talk about the matchup between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, but Luck - the Colts' current quarterback - has a message for those people.
"It's not the quarterback-versus-quarterback thing," Luck said of next weekend's game after Sunday's 26-10 win over the Bengals. "We're not on the field at the same time. I have a lot of respect for [Manning], what he does, what he still does is amazing. He's a stud. I'll worry about the Denver defense. That's what I'll worry about."
It's a refreshing message from an NFL quarterback, as he realizes that it's not Luck vs. Manning but rather Colts vs. Broncos. The only times that Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning will be on the field at the same time is before the game for the coin toss and after the game for a handshake. In-between, the Broncos' defense will be trying to stop Luck and the Colts' defense will be trying to stop Manning. And just as both defenses will have their hands full, neither quarterback really has the time to focus on a supposed "matchup" against the other team's quarterback.
Still, we'll see plenty of statements about either Luck beating Peyton or Peyton beating Luck after next weekend's game, and that's inevitable from many in the media and from many fans. And this week, we'll see a ton of "Luck vs. Manning" talk, and to a certain degree, that's totally fine. They're the leaders of their respective teams, and they play the most important position on the field. Luck will forever be tied to Manning as his successor in Indianapolis, and so all of these story lines make sense. But let's remember Luck's advice: it's not QB vs. QB.
One thing that is true, however, is that both Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning will have a big impact on this Sunday's game. For Luck, he's coming off of his best game of a season in which he broke Manning's franchise record for passing yards in a season and led the league in touchdown passes - edging Manning out by one. For Manning, he's coming off of a bye week after a regular season that saw him throw for 4,727 yards and 39 scores. Manning and Luck are two of the NFL's biggest stars, and on Sunday they'll both be playing for the right to go to the AFC Championship game. But don't be fooled: they won't actually be playing against each other on the field.