This week’s most highly anticipated NFL game is Sunday night’s tilt between undefeated Kansas City and 8-1 Denver. The Broncos Peyton Manning has thrown for 33 touchdowns in just nine games this season. He’s on a pace to break Tom Brady‘s single-season mark of 50. So he’s unstoppable, right? Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth talks to Bill about his plan to hold Manning in check.
BL: Mike, what are some of the ways Kansas City should go about stopping the Denver Broncos starting quarterback on Sunday?
MT:What’s funny is the Chiefs can do kind of what they’ve been doing all year — [they] have one of the top-ranked defenses in the NFL. They just have to do it better than they’ve been doing it all year. Their defense is very well designed to stop what Peyton Manning tries to do. They have an exceptional outside pass rush which means they can get a pass rush on Manning with like only four defenders or five defenders. It doesn’t have to be a crazy blitz. They can play man coverage with their exceptional corner-backs on those very good wide-receivers. And they can create a situation where Peyton Manning kind of has to pick his poison and do the things he’s not best at, like throw deep down the sidelines. So it’s really a very good match up for the Chiefs.
BL: Beyond what the Chiefs can do well, Peyton Manning is dealing with a sore ankle — at least he was during practice this week. With the ankle prevent him from doing any of the things he does so well?
MT: It will slow him down a little bit and of course we know that Peyton Manning is not a scrambler; he’s not going to run for 100 yards. But some of the things he’s going to have to do is step fully into his throws to be able to drive the ball deep down field. And when you’re dealing with an ankle sprain and you try to step up and throw 30 [yards], 40 yards on a rope down the sideline, that’s going to hurt. And at the same time when you have a pass rush coming, that makes it difficult to make that kind of throw. So it is going to have a background effect on Peyton Manning’s performance.
BL: Kansas City is 9-0 at this point, the leagues only undefeated team. Do they really need help in neutralizing Manning?
MT: Well it’s funny because they are 9-0, but they have played an unprecedented string of back-up and third-string quarterbacks in the last month. So while they’re a good defense, it’s a little bit of an inflated reputation. And what’s funny is the type of conversations we have. Are they lucky or are they good? It’s possible to be both in this world. They’re very good, but at the same time they’ve been a little lucky to face the likes of Jason Campbell, Jeff Tuel, and Case Keenum — quarterbacks who are a long way from Peyton Manning in the last month.
BL: Your Sports on Earth column, ‘How to Stop Peyton Manning,’ came out on Wednesday. Have the Chiefs expressed interest in adding you to the coaching staff yet?
MT: Hahaha, no and I’m not holding my breath either. Of course everything I put in there was based on game film of watching what Bob Sutton, Andy Reid, and the Chiefs do every week anyway. So I wasn’t giving them anything new. I was just taking some of their ideas and plastering them together for the rest of us to enjoy.
BL: Well, I’m wondering if you gave bulletin board material to Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
MT: I’ll tell you what, the last thing that Peyton Manning does is look around the NFL and the internet for bulletin board material. That’s a man who’s been doing this long before I got into the business. And you know nothing I’ve said in there is going to stop or shut down Peyton Manning. It’s about limiting. Stopping him from scoring 34, 38 points. That’s what the Chiefs are setting out to do, not pitch a shut out.