Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 5/18/12
Part 1 can be found here: http://www.footballnation.com/content/1998-peyton-manning-vs-2012-andrew-luck-part-1/14460/
Part 2 can be found here: http://www.footballnation.com/content/1998-peyton-manning-vs-2012-andrew-luck-part-2/14607/
This is part 3 of a 4 part series titled “1998 Manning versus 2012 Luck.”
In 1998, everyone in the old AFC East made the playoffs, except for the Colts. In 2011, the only team to make the playoffs from the AFC South was the Houston Texans. In part 3, I will analyze week by week what Luck will have to face as compared to what Manning had to. Taking a look inside at individual players, coaches, matchups, and stats that Peyton had against what Andrew will, week 1 through week 16. Who had it easier?
Week 1:
Manning: vs. Miami Dolphins
Luck: @ Chicago Bears
Manning threw for 302 yards, a TD and three picks against division rival Miami in ’98. The Dolphins defense would finish the season number one in the NFL in points allowed, (16.6 per game), third in yards allowed (277.19 per game), and first in interception (29 total.) Two of the Fins’ corners, Sam Madison and Terrell Buckley would have eight picks apiece on the season.
Luck has to face a nasty Chicago Bears defense to start his pro career. Linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs will be sure to try to get in the young man’s head. But the Chicago secondary finished 28th in 2011 in passing yards allowed with 254.1 per game. Last year’s starting strong safety Brandon Merriweather is a Washington Redskin, and they didn’t do much to improve that weak secondary in the draft. If Luck can avoid the front seven, and the line can give him a little time, he should be okay.
Week 2:
Manning: @ New England Patriots
Luck: vs. Minnesota Vikings
Peyton lost his second straight start 29-6 to Pete Carroll’s Pats. Had a pretty good day completing 63.6 percent of his passes, but as would be all of 1998, he couldn’t stop throwing the ball to other team, racking up another three INTs. But in his defense, he was playing against pro bowler’s Ty Law and safety Lawyer Milloy. Law, who had two picks, would be a pain in Manning’s side his entire career.
Luck faces another fierce and sack-happy defense when he plays in Lucus Oil Stadium for the first time. But, just like their NFC North buddy Bears, the Vikings couldn’t stop teams in 2011 from throwing all over them, allowing 251.2 yards passing per game. But they did lead the NFL in sacks with 50, 22 coming from DE Jared Allen. Half of their picks in the 2012 NFL Draft focused on defense, three on the secondary. Starting left tackle Anthony Castanzo will have his hands full and will have to prevent Andrew from getting hurt.
Week 3:
Manning: @ New York Jets
Luck: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
By week three, Manning had already faced three of his four divisional opponents, with the, eventual AFC East Champion Jets being the third. The Jets were second in the NFL in points allowed (16.6 per game) and had a coaching staff that included head coach Bill Parcel, Romeo Crennel, Al Groh, Todd Haley, and Eric Mangini. Not to mention pro bowlers, cornerback Aaron Glenn and linebacker Mo Lewis. Manning would finish the day completing 45.5 percent of his passes for 193 yards and two picks on the way to a 44-6 defeat.
Luck has to face his first divisional opponent and another team in transition. They drafted Oklahoma State stud receiver Justin Blackmon with their first pick, but then spent the majority of the draft on defense. The Jags finished 25th in passing yards allowed in 2011. But they will get a healthy Ashton Youboty back and fouth-year defensive end Jeremy Mincey led the team in sacks with eight. Young left tackle Anthony Castanzo will have another tough challenge. HC Chuck Pagano will probably give Luck the green light this game, seeing how the Jags rush defense ranked ninth in the league last year in yards allowed.
Week 4:
Manning: vs. New Orleans Saints
Luck: BYE
Manning would amass 300 yards for the second time in four games, throwing for 302, a TD, and three picks against a Saints defense that ranked near the bottom in every significant category. Peyton still couldn’t pull out a win though, losing 19-13 in overtime. The Saints were led by linebacker Mark Field’s two sacks. Three different Saints would pick off Manning, while he completed just 59.4 percent of his passes.
I don’t like Luck having such an early bye, but after games with the Bears, Vikings, and rival Jaguars, he might need it to look over his mistakes and hopefully learn from them.
Week 5:
Manning: vs. San Diego Chargers
Luck: vs. Green Bay Packers
Manning notches his first win against the Chargers in week five, but his stats still were unimpressive. He was 12 of 23 for 137, one TD, one pick. On a high note; Manning beat a defense that ranked in the better half of the NFL in interceptions (8th) and total yards allowed (1st.) The Chargers also had the Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison when they were in their primes. But just like when he was in New England, Harrison picked off Manning.

Andrew Luck takes on a probably still upset Packer team led by reining MVP Aaron Rodgers. But what helps is that Green Bay ranked dead last in passing yards allowed last season with 299.8 yards per game. More good news, the Packers ranked 27th in sacks, notching only 29 on the year. They used their first-round draft choice on USC defensive end Nick Perry to try to help the problem. They will be transitioning him to play opposite Clay Matthews and for Luck’s and the Colts’ sake lets hope he’s not a fast learner.
Week 6:
Manning: vs. Buffalo Bills
Luck: @ New York Jets
Manning would lose a close one to Wade Phillip’s Bills, 31-24. The Colts offensive line would not allow Manning to be sacked this game, even with Hall of Famer Bruce Smith on the other side of the football. Manning would throw two picks as the ultimate underdog, Doug Flutie, would throw two touchdowns.
Andrew Luck will face his first top ten passing defense, led by Revis Island. Revis will probably be on Reggie Wayne, who hasn’t really had problems with dominate corners, but I am sure the Colts coaches will be telling Andrew to steer clear. Corner Antonio Cromartie and linebacker David Harris aren’t too bad either. Add that on to leader Bart Scott and first-round draft choice Quinton Coples, this defense is going to be scary good again. My guess is Coach Chuck Pagano will try to ground and pound on the Jets, who allowed 111.1 yards rushing per game last year.
Week 7:
Manning: @ San Francisco 49ers
Luck: vs. Cleveland Browns
Peyton would take on Steve Mariucci’s talented 49er team. He would have his first game without throwing a pick, while completing 18 of 30 passes for 231 yards and his first three touchdown game. Steve Young and Jerry Rice were on their way out, as T.O. was on his way in, during Indy’s 34-31 loss.
Luck takes on a Browns team with a new identity and a lot of new faces on the offensive side of the football. Brandon Weeden takes over at quarterback and Trent Richardson takes over being the primary runner. Cleveland was second in the NFL in 2011 allowing 184.9 passing yards per game. They are led by shutdown corner Joe Haden and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who led the team in tackles with 158. The name of the game today will more than likely be run the football, so Luck doesn’t have to challenge a very good secondary.
Week 8:
Manning: BYE
Luck: @ Tennessee Titans
Peyton gets to rest his pretty little face. But to recap his stats thus far:
1,595 passing yards, nine touchdowns, 14 picks.
Andrew Luck takes on CJY2K and another young gun slinger by the name of Jake Locker. The Titans couldn’t stop anyone on the ground last year and their pass defense was mediocre, coming in ranking 14th in the league by the end of 2011. Tennessee lost Cortland Finnegan to the Rams via free agency, so their secondary will be noticeably weaker this year, especially after taking Baylor wide out, Kendal Wright with their first round pick, and not taking a corner until the fourth round (Coty Sensabaugh from Clemson.) Luck should put up good numbers against the Titans.
Week 9:
Manning: vs. New England Patriots
Luck: vs. Miami Dolphins
Peyton came out of his bye throwing the football well to the tune of 278 yards, but fell to the Pats for a second time in 1998, 21-16. This time it would be Lawyer Malloy getting the best of Manning, picking him off twice. The Colts would not allow a sack this game, but the defense would allow Drew Bledsoe to throw for 306 yards and two scores.
Luck gets a Dolphins team who might have a rookie quarterback taking snaps at this point. The Fins ranked 25th in the NFL allowing 249.5 passing yards per game, led by Vonte Davis’ four picks. Davis is no slouch, but other than him the Dolphins secondary is pretty bad. They did get a little help for Cameron Wake in the third round pick with Oliver Vernon out of Miami. Luck should be throwing the ball early and often against a shaky Miami team, but history has shown the Dolphins always play better during the second half of the season.
Week 10:
Manning: @ Miami Dolphins
Luck: @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Manning’s worst passing day as a rookie came in his second meeting with the Jimmy Johnson and the Dolphins. He was 22 of 42 for 140 yards, two interceptions, and one touchdown, dropping the Colts to 1-8. Sam Madison and Terrell Buckley would pick off Peyton one time a piece, while his lone touchdown would go to TE Ken Dilger.
Andrew will have learned a lot from his first meeting from the Jaguars. So would the Jacksonville coaching staff. They will be able to see where Luck is prone to mistakes, what worked, and what didn’t work. This will be the game where the whole country will be able to see what Luck can do as it’s the only Indy game in primetime. Expect the Colts to split the series with the Jags in 2012, with Andrew Luck winning game two.
Week 11:
Manning: vs. New York Jets
Luck: @ New England Patriots
In Manning’s second career win, he defeated the division-rival Jets, 24-23, behind his 267 yards and three touchdowns. The interception bug would be in effect again as Aaron Glenn and Otis Smith would pick off Peyton.
Luck gets his first game in the NFL’s biggest non-divisional rivalry. Tom Brady doesn’t care if he’s not staring at Peyton across the sidelines anymore, he still wants to win. New England was 31st in passing yards allowed last season with 293.9 per game. The Pats used all but one of their 2012 draft picks on defensive personnel taking Illinois safety Tavon Wilson in the second round, Ohio State DB Nate Ebner in the sixth, and Nebraska DB Alfonzo Dennard in the seventh. Luck will have to keep up with a very high-scoring Pats offense.
Week 12:
Manning: @ Buffalo Bills
Luck: vs. Buffalo Bills
In Manning’s second meeting with Bills, they would not score a touchdown until the fourth quarter, losing 34-11.Peyton would only throw for 164 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions as Doug Flutie would torture the Colts defense once again.
Andrew Luck gets a different Buffalo Bills team, but the Colts offensive line will see a familiar face across from them, that being Mario Williams. Williams signed a six year, 100 million dollar contract in March, and he brings his 53 sacks with him. That should help a Bills defense that only had 29 total sacks last year. Rookie franchise QB will be faced off against rookie franchise corner as luck takes on former Gamecock and first-round pick Stephon Gilmore.
Week 13:
Manning: @ Baltimore Ravens
Luck: @ Detroit Lions
Peyton would have his best game as a rookie against former Colt Jim Harbaugh and the Ravens, throwing for 357 yards, three TDs, and one pick in a 38-31 loss. These two teams would not be a force to be reckoned with until the millennium but they both displayed the talent that would keep them dominate for the next decade.
Andrew Luck takes on a Detroit team that finally has an identity. But the identity is on the offensive side of the football. The Lions secondary was definitely their weakness last year, allowing 239.4 yards per game threw the air. They used three of their eight draft picks on defensive backs and look to have their defense compliment their offense.
Week 14:
Manning: @ Atlanta Falcons
Luck: vs. Tennessee Titans
The Colts take on the, eventual, NFC representative in the Super Bowl losing 28-21. But it wasn’t all bad. Manning had his best completion percentage of the year with 70.4 (19 of 27) and would throw two touchdowns. The Colts defense would sack Falcon QB Chris Chandler five times.
Luck takes on the Titans for a second time. Tennessee barely missed the playoffs lat year at 9-7 and losing the eventual tie-breaker to the Cincinnati Bengals, but this year could get better or worse. If Chris Johnson can get back to old form and if, whoever the starting quarterback is, plays consistent, the Titans could sneak their way in to the post season this year.
Week 15:
Manning: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Luck: @ Houston Texans
Peyton Manning would have his second career game throwing no interceptions on his way to the teams’ third and final victory of the season beating the Bengals 39-26. Manning would finish his day 17 of 26 for 210 yards and three touchdowns.
Luck meets the Texans for the first time of the season and gets to face one of the more balanced teams in the NFL. The Texans defense ranked third in passing yards allowed, sixth in sacks (without Mario Williams), and fourth in rushing yards allowed. They only got better in the draft adding former Illini defensive end Whitney Mercilus in the first round. This team has their eyes on the Super Bowl in 2012.
Week 16:
Manning: @ Seattle Seahawks
Luck: @ Kansas City Chiefs
Ricky Waters would run all over the Colts on this day to the tune of 178 yards and a score as the Seahawks would go on to win 27-23. Peyton would finish 335 yards, a touchdown and a pick. The Colts would lead 20-10 going in to the fourth, but that defense would allow 17 more points to go up on the board.
Luck faces a Chiefs defense that surprised a lot of people last year. They finished sixth in the NFL in passing yards, allowing 201.3 per game. They added Memphis man-child of a nose tackle Dontari Poe in the draft, and get a health Matt Cassel and Jamaal Charles back as they compete for the AFC West crown.
Week 17:
Manning: vs. Carolina Panthers
Luck: Vs. Houston Texans
Peyton’s season would end just how it would start, losing his season finale 27-19. He completed 50 percent of his passes for 225 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. The Panthers would sack Manning five times, by four different players and thus is the end of Peyton Manning’s worse NFL season.
Luck faces the Texans for the second time in three weeks to end a tough stretch of the regular season. Rookie defensive end J.J. Watt will have another year under his belt, line backer DeMeco Ryans just keeps getting better, and outside line backer Connor Barwin looks to improve on his 11.5 sacks of a year ago. On paper and on the field, this team is scary good.
Peyton would definitely have it tougher as the teams he had to face had perennial pro bowlers, hall of famers, and the eventual Super Bowl runner-up. There is no telling how the 2012 season will end but Luck should have an easier schedule than Peyton did. 

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