If you watched any of Sunday's Broncos vs. Chiefs game, you surely noticed the struggles of one of the all-time great quarterbacks in league history, Peyton Manning. In what was by far the worst day of his career, Manning completed just 5 of 20 passes for 35 yards and four interceptions for a passer rating of 0.0. He didn't look right, and more details have now emerged regarding Manning's injuries.
Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said definitively after the game that if Manning is healthy, he'll be the starter, but Manning clearly wasn't healthy on Sunday. He had been listed on the injury report last week with foot and rib injuries, but he was still probable to play. Kubiak had said that Manning's foot was just bothered after playing on the turf in Indianapolis last week.
It turns out, however, that against the Colts Manning reportedly suffered a partially torn plantar fascia in his foot, an injury that he re-aggravated on Sunday against the Chiefs. This is according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, who in confirming what many others in the media had reported (regarding the torn plantar fascia) also reported that the injury did indeed occur in the game against the Colts rather than against the Chiefs. Against the Colts, Manning wasn't the problem, as he completed 21 of 36 passes for 281 yards, two scores, and two picks, but at some point in the game it appears he suffered the injury.
The big question now, both for the Broncos and for the rest of the AFC, becomes this: when will Manning return? It's a significant injury for the 39-year old quarterback, and we saw it affect him greatly on Sunday. While it doesn't excuse all of the poor play, for a quarterback like Manning who relies so much on footwork, having an injured foot like this can indeed be a huge hinderance. It would be smart for the Broncos to give Manning some time off to recover, as Brock Osweiler might be able to fill in during the interim.
What impact does this have on the AFC playoff picture, then? Probably not a ton - which is a crazy statement to say, that an injury to Peyton Manning doesn't have a huge impact on the AFC playoff picture. Remember, he's only missed 16 games in his career, and they all came in one season - during which the Colts went 2-14. This year, though, the Broncos have been carried by their defense, and it is likely that they could ride their defense and run game if Manning misses time. So, in other words, the Broncos still can probably win their division, and the Colts still seem to be locked in to the number four seed. As crazy as it sounds, the injury to Peyton Manning might not change the AFC playoff picture too much, other than the fact that one of the most recognizable players in sports dealing with a significant injury.