Super Bowl Sunday Could Be Peyton Manning’s Waterloo

It's hard not to think this year's Super Bowl isn't all about Peyton Manning.

After all, it appeared Manning, a quarterback machine like never seen before, was all but done a few years ago after neck surgery, a missed season and getting dumped by the Indianapolis Colts.

Heck, even his brother, New York Giants' QB Eli Manning, thought his career was done, too.

But here's Peyton Manning, at Exit 16W off the New Jersey Turnpike, playing in the first cold-weather Super Bowl in NFL history.

And make no mistake. All the chips are it. This is a Floyd Mayweather bet, big and confident. There's no do-over, licking wounds and saying maybe next year.

Manning, now the Denver Broncos' Messiah, has a chance on Sunday at MetLife Stadium to do what most never thought possible, to tie his remarkable career in a bow.

Better yet, silence all his postseason critics and cement his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen.

There's just one small problem. Enter the Seattle Seahawks.

The only thing Seattle is more known for than coffee is rain. Hence, expect the Seahawks to rain on Manning's parade.

We know all the gaudy numbers Manning has put up, especially the last two seasons in Denver.

But Seattle is no joke, especially when you're talking defense.

Indeed, it's a dream match. The No.1-ranked offense of the Broncos vs. the No. 1-ranked defense of the Seahawks.

Seattle's speed and ability to put so many good players out there makes them super strong. And they make plays, especially cornerback Richard Sherman.

Defense wins championship sounds like a tired, overused line. It's not. If you have a good defense, you always have a better chance to win. History tells us.

And for all the great moments we have seen from Manning, it's still hard to shake the bad moments, the blunders, the huge disappointing moments when he blew it in the postseason.

That's why the betting line isn't as big as most would have believed (Denver minus 2), given the season Manning had. Plus, he destroyed Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to get to the Super Bowl.

The reason is simple. It's Manning.

Fans, even the hometown fans that love him, remember the Super Bowl against the New Orleans Saints when Manning threw that pick-six. Instead, a game-tying drive for the Colts, Manning secured the Saints' 14-point victory.

Even last year against Baltimore in the divisional playoffs, Manning was, well half-Manning, and threw a terrible pick on his side of the field that led to a Ravens' game-winning field goal in double overtime.

Fans in Denver were crushed.

Some will always say it isn't just the quarterback who wins or loses the game. Yeah, we get it.

Nonetheless, this is a quarterback league. They get the most hype, the most loot and the most blame. It comes with the territory.

And you can believe that if Manning makes mistakes, a turnover or two, and the Broncos don't win, it will be about him and his legacy of failing in the postseason.

It's the reason why Manning didn't even want to address the legacy issue at media day.

"I'm not 100 percent what that word even means," Manning said on Tuesday.

Manning added, "I've been asked about my legacy since I was 25 years old, which I'm not sure you can have a legacy when you are 25 years old, or even 37. I thought you had to be 70 to have a legacy."

Oh no, folks will know Manning's legacy late Sunday evening. He will either be 1-2 in Super Bowls or 2-1. The latter makes him a national hero.

The bottom line remains is that Manning needs that second Super Bowl championship. I've always said when it comes to championships that anybody can win one.

The second one confirms that it wasn't a fluke, the stars just didn't aligned and you just happened to be under center.

Joe Montana won four Super Bowls, throwing 11 TDs and no interceptions. That's a legend, a legacy not up for debate.

No wonder this Super Bowl is, indeed, all about Manning. When it comes to regular seasons, Manning destroys Montana's number.

But when America watches as one on a cold winter Sunday, it's Montana.

Unfortunately for Manning, Seattle will keep it that way.


Parker's Pick: Seattle 24-17 with Manning throwing one pick-six.

Rob Parker is a columnist for The Shadow League. He is also an analyst for Fox Sports 1 in Los Angeles. He co-hosts The Odd Couple on Fox Sports Radio and is also an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.