Surprisingly, the success of the 6-0 Broncos this season has come more in spite of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning than because of him. The 39-year-old is having his worst statistical season since his rookie campaign, 1998, when he threw more interceptions (28) than touchdowns (26), averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt and put up a 71.2 passer rating. In 2015, he has also tossed more picks than scores (10 to seven), posted a subpar YPA (6.43) and a poor rating (72.5). Nevertheless, he has a defender in AZCentral.com’s , who writes that it’s too soon to jump off the Manning bandwagon as he and the Broncos get ready for a clash with 6-0 Green Bay on Sunday.
McManaman believes a change in offensive scheme (from Adam Gase‘s to Gary Kubiak‘s), a lesser O-line, and the offseason loss of touchdown-catching tight end Julius Thomas have hindered Manning in his 18th season and made him look worse than he really is. Whether McManaman is right is debatable. What isn’t debatable is that Manning has the worst rating in the league among qualified starters.
Now to the NFC West:
- After signing an inexpensive deal for one year with the Cardinals during the summer, running back Chris Johnson has revitalized his career as a key part of an elite team. The 30-year-old currently has the second-highest yards-per-carry average of his career (5.1) to go along with three touchdowns. While Johnson could stand to cash in during the offseason as a result of his renaissance this year, that isn’t on his mind. “I’m not even thinking about my contract,” he said, per Dan Bickley of AZCentral.com. “At the end of the day, I’m just happy to be playing football again. At one point, I thought that would never happen.”
- Thanks to Johnson’s excellent play, fellow Cardinals runner Andre Ellington has barely figured into their offensive game plan this season. Ellington has 90 fewer carries than Johnson (21 compared to 111), but the Cards will look to get the third-year man more involved this week against the Browns’ last-ranked run defense, writes Kevin Patra of NFL.com. “I think BA (head coach Bruce Arians) has stuff for him and he didn’t get to it, but I’m sure he’ll get to it this week,” said offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin.
- The reasons the 49ers cut Jarryd Hayne on Saturday, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter): 1. They didn’t trust him to pick up blitzes as a running back. 2. He had major issues with ball security as a return man. Despite those flaws, the 49ers will try to sign Hayne to their practice squad Monday, per Branch.