Monday, January 25, 2016

Your wish list for today

If unicorns existed, Peyton Manning would ride one into a last glorious sunset, Lombardi Trophy under one arm and the thanks of a grateful nation under the other.

(For, you know, not subjecting us to another two weeks of Grumpy McHoodie and his grim, gray, industrially-efficient Patriots. Thanks, Peyton!)

If there were fairy godmothers, she'd make Peyton's arm 25 again, so he could ride off on that unicorn having thrown four touchdown passes and completed, oh, say, 38-of-42 for 457 yards or so.

If this were Never-Never Land, where every wish came true, Peyton would do all of the above, and the Denver Broncos' defense would be even stouter than it was yesterday, and the Broncos would beat Carolina in Super Bowl 50, confounding all the Telestrator jockeys and various other amateur experts who set the betting line in Vegas.

Alas, there are no unicorns or fairy godmothers or a Never-Never Land, which means the Panthers are probably going to win this thing. They are Vegas' early pick for a reason, the reason being they are simply the best team in professional football. This does not mean they're going to win Supe 50, but it doesn't hurt their chances any.

A good chunk of America will be rooting for those chances to shrivel, of course, because America loves its feel-good stories, and there's no better one than Peyton Manning going out a winner. He's not 25 anymore and neither is his arm; if it had been, he'd have thrown more than the two touchdowns he threw yesterday, and the game would not have come down to a desperate two-point conversion try by Tom Brady. That Manning left at least two more touchdowns on the table was visible to anyone who watched him overthrow open receivers in the end zone on at least a couple of occasions.

Three years ago, maybe even two years ago, those would have been sixes. In 2016, not so much. Manning may have reached back more than some thought possible yesterday, but he can't reach back that much.

So, in two weeks, it will be up to him to do what he did yesterday, which is wring enough points out of his ancient arm to allow the Denver defense to win it. That was hard enough against a Tom Brady who wasn't his younger self, either; it will be darn near impossible against the freak of nature who is Cam Newton. Arizona had a stout defense, too, and the Cardinals couldn't stop him. And the Panthers' D is better than the Patriots was.

So the handwriting's on the wall, apparently.  You wish it weren't, but it is.

Of course, the thing about handwriting is, no one ever writes it in indelible ink. Or not very often, anyway.

Go round up the unicorn.

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