We certainly couldn't have the Speed Bumps come and go and not make a stop in Denver with Peyton Manning, easily the biggest free agency signing of the year, and one of the more marquee free-agent signings ever. Imagine Tom Brady as a 49er one year from now. Peyton Manning as a Bronco seemed about as likely a year ago - who could have imagined this time last year that Manning and his 14-year run in Indianapolis would be over and he would be a Bronco. Manning will square off against Matt Ryan, who had his 1st 4,000-yard season last year finishing as the #8 QB, and Phillip Rivers, who had his 4th straight 4,000-yards passing season finishing as the #9 QB.
Prior to missing last year, in 13 NFL seasons Peyton Manning averaged 4,217 yards passing per season and never missed a start. With 54,828 passing yards, Manning is 3rd on the all-time list in career passing yards (behind Brett Favre, 71,838 and Dan Marino, 61,361). It will be one of the most interesting story-lines of the 2012 season to see if Peyton can return to elite form and how his signing in Denver changes the dynamic of the AFC West and AFC in general. We'll get to see new stats flow of MANNING to THOMAS and MANNING to DECKER. Despite an injury-riddled receiving corps, Peyton passed for 4,700 yards in 2010, the most ever in his career. The fun starts on prime-time Sunday Night Football as Peyton and the Broncos will face off against Big Ben and the Steelers.
With Peyton Manning joining the AFC West, a potential new Manning - Philip Rivers rivalry may have emerged. Broncos - Chargers games certainly should be must-watch and could produce some big-time fantasy production in old-school AFC shoot-outs. Rivers started off slowly last year but ultimately delivered a studly 4600-yards passing with 27 TDs. In his first 11 games, Rivers actually led the NFL in interceptions. Over the past four years Rivers has averaged 4,399 passing yards per season and 30 passing TDs. Rivers (30) should be in the prime of his career and he is locked up through the 2015 season with a $98M contract. Rivers' has seen his attempts increase six years in a row (he averaged 36.4 per game last year) although he will play this year without WR Vincent Jackson and RB Mike Tolbert (31% of Rivers' completion last year) but welcomes new WRs Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal.
Last season, Matt Ryan squared off against Josh Freeman and Matt Schaub in the "Southern Gold" poll, garnered the most votes and then took care of business. Ryan finished as the #8 fantasy QB last year (after finishing #9 in 2010) and passed for more than 4,000 yards for the first time in his three-year NFL career and had a career-best 29 passing TDs. Over the final nine weeks Ryan averaged 277 YPG with a 20:4 TD/INT ratio. Ryan is moving up a solid tier in competition in this year's poll in Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. Ryan certainly has the best WR combo of the QBs in this poll (or the NFL in general) with Julio Jones ands Roddy White. Ryan and the Falcons welcome new OC Dirk Koetter
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