Want a new way to consider Sunday's big game between Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos and Andrew Luck's Indianapolis Colts? What if they switched places?
(And who doesn't love a good body swap plot, like "Face/Off," "The Hot Chick" or "Vice Versa," all cinematic classics?)
So John Ewing at Predictionmachine.com decided to run the analytics and see what a Manning-led Colts team would do versus a Luck-led Broncos squad. Fun stuff.
What he found is that although their statistics would not vary a lot, the win totals would be different.
Ewing ran 50,000 simulations of the game with the teams as they are in real life. The numbers say that the Broncos would win 67.0 percent of the time with an aggregate score of 33-26. Manning would complete an average of 66 percent of his passes for 312 yards, 3.2 touchdowns and 0.9 interceptions. Luck would complete 59 percent of his passes for 277 yards, 1.6 touchdowns and 0.9 interceptions.
But flip them around, and Ewing says it would be a much closer game. With Luck on the Broncos, they won 51 percent of the simulations, with 28-27 being the aggregate score. Luck's projected stats: 62 percent passing, 288 yards, 3.0 touchdowns and 0.9 interceptions. Manning's totals with the Colts would be 61 percent passing, 309 yards, 2.0 touchdowns, and 0.9 interceptions.
So Manning > Luck, right? So says Ewing and his computer. Manning's Broncos should win 13.3 games this season, but with Luck as their QB they'd only win 11.3. On the flip side, the simulation says Luck's Colts should win 9.3 games, but Manning would up that win total to 9.8.
But ... what about the dads?
Archie Manning and Oliver Luck have a lot in common. Not only are they both NFL quarterback alumni and fathers of famous quarterbacks (Eli: "Don't forget about me!"), but they also will be serving together on the College Football Playoff Committee. Also a bit of fun trivia: Archie and Oliver were teammates on the 1983 Houston Oilers. Oliver was 2-4 as a starter, and Archie — sad trombone — was 0-3. Of course, that was better than Gifford Nielsen, who was 0-7 that year for the team. Gifford Nielsen also has no children playing in the "Sunday Night Football" game this week.
But what would happen if elder Manning and elder Luck loosened up the old wings (neither has thrown an NFL pass since the mid-1980s)?
Denver, with in-his-prime Archie Manning starting at quarterback, would win 67.3% of the time by an average score of 25-19. In an Archie vs. Oliver game, playing for their respective sons' current teams, the Broncos have a higher win percentage than when the sons play.
In such a fantasy scenario, Archie would complete 62 percent for 268 yards, 2.7 touchdowns, and 1.3 interceptions. Oliver would complete 58 percent of his passes for 238 yards, 1.4 touchdowns, and 1.4 interceptions. If 19070s Archie was the Broncos' quarterback this season (stick with us here), they'd win an average 10.4 and lose 5.6 games. The Colts, with 1980s Oliver, would average 7.0 wins and 9.0 losses.
So the Manning-Luck debate rages on. But one thing is for certain — and no offense, dads: The kids are just better than their old men. As gracious and deferential as Archie and Oliver are, they are sure to agree.
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