Sunday, March 18, 2012
Which team makes the most sense for Peyton Manning?
Manning, if healthy, would provide an upgrade at quarterback for all three teams but which fits him the best is another question.
Each of the three remaining teams Peyton will choose from have very similar makeups. San Francisco and Denver had great defenses last year and good running games, while the Titans should expect a bounce back performance from Chris Johnson. All three have a similarly built receiving corps.
The 49ers just added Mario Manningham to a group featuring tight end Vernon Davis, a yet-to-fulfill-his-hype Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss, who is coming back after a year off and a terrible year before that. The Titans have an outstanding receiver in Kenny Britt, but he is returning from a season-ending injury. Nate Washington was a 1,000 yard receiver last year, benefiting by being the featured weapon for the combination of Matt Hasselback and Jake Locker when Britt went down. The Broncos have Demaryius Thomas, who has shown a lot of potential after people scratched their heads at Denver drafting him ahead of Dez Bryant. Eric Decker emerged as a decent target as well.
For Denver, the receiving corps was decent without a real quarterback to throw them passes. The Broncos could be dynamic with Manning, a quarterback to add a passing attack to the strong running game the team featured last year. He would, though, have to either compete with "Tebowmania" or be the man responsible for Tebow's exile. It would provide John Elway with the perfect cover to rid himself of Tebow, though.
For the Titans, missing out on Manning wouldn't be all bad. The team has a young quarterback in Locker and could build around him using all that money they would have given to Manning.
While the belief is that Manning wants to remain in the AFC and avoid the inevitable media circuses every time he plays his brother Eli and the Giants, the team built to win now with his arrival is easily the San Francisco 49ers. The defense returns all 11 starters and Frank Gore is an elite running back, something Manning has never really had. Peyton has, though, always had a strong tight end in Dallas Clark. Vernon Davis, already one of the best in the game, would thrive with Manning.
If his decision is truly about just sliding in and winning a title, the 49ers make the most sense.
(Image courtesy Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)