Should Peyton Manning retire?

By Sam Cowan

If Super Bowl 50 was the final game of Peyton Manning’s career, then he didn’t go out with quite the flair expected from the most prolific passer in NFL history.

Manning looked every bit like a 39-year-old in the twilight of his playing career at times on Sunday and finished with a pedestrian 141 passing yards, no touchdown and an interception.

Luckily for him, the Denver Broncos didn’t need much offense for Manning to get the second ring of his career. The Broncos defense smothered the top-scoring offense of the Carolina Panthers to help bring the franchise its third Super Bowl victory.

It was a stark contrast to the last Super Bowl appearance for Manning and the Broncos in 2014. Manning was coming off a record-breaking regular season for both passing yards and touchdowns, but the Seahawks dominated the Broncos in a 35-point blowout.

This year, the Broncos would not be denied as the defense put on a showcase all season which places them alongside the aforementioned Seahawks, the 2000 Ravens and the 1985 Bears among others as one of the best defenses in NFL history.

However, despite the season the defensive unit had, all the focus in the weeks leading up the Super Bowl and even after the game finished was on Peyton Manning and questions of whether his retirement was imminent.

For his part, Manning has yet to say for certain whether he will be in the league in 2016. Even when asked directly about it after the game, Manning said he hadn’t decided yet and would need more time to think about it.

Manning has certainly enjoyed a lot of success in his 18 years in the NFL. Manning is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns while also being just second in passing attempts and completions.

Manning also has a habit of bringing his team back in games and holds the NFL record for game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime with 56 on his career. The only current player close to that is Manning’s eternal rival Tom Brady who has 46.

The value of Manning has also been highly recognized in his career as demonstrated by his five MVP awards. No one else in NFL history has more than three.

The win adds several more records to the illustrious career of Manning. Manning is now the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two separate teams and in addition to being the oldest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, he is also now the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

The win was also the 200th of Manning’s career including regular season and postseason, which broke a tie with Brett Favre for most all-time.

It will be a while before anyone comes close to matching these records and it is obvious Manning has left a big mark on the game.

With all he has accomplished, it might seem odd to end his career on such a down personal note, but it might be the perfect way to end his career.

Manning was banged up all season and it is obvious his body is beginning to break down on him. However, for one last run from the end of the regular season to the Super Bowl, Manning was able to do just enough to help his teams win.

The defense brought the team to victory, but Manning did enough for himself to make sure he didn’t let himself or the team down by the end of the game.

For a player who has been among the most valuable in NFL history, it feels somewhat appropriate that he goes out a winner in an overall team effor

Can the Warriors break the NBA single-season wins record?

By Sam Cowan

Entering a Wednesday night showdown against the Dallas Mavericks on ESPN, the Golden State Warriors are on pace for an unprecedented number of wins.

The Warriors enter the game with a 41-4 record which puts them on pace for a 74-win season. The NBA record for most wins in a season was set at 72 by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls during the 1995-1996 season.

Those Bulls actually also entered their 46th game of the season with a record of 41-4 which only intensifies the comparisons between the two teams.

It shouldn’t be a surprise the Warriors are on a record-setting pace considering their record-breaking start to the season. The Warriors won their first 24 games to start the season which set a new NBA record by a wide margin.

In comparison, the Bulls started a somewhat modest 10-2 before winning 31 out of 32 games to put themselves at the top of the league.

Both teams are also led by star players with Stephen Curry dominating the current NBA and Michael Jordan being arguably the greatest player of all-time playing at his physical peak. Jordan’s 30 points, six rebounds and four assists per game through the first 45 games of the season is virtually identical to Curry’s 30 points, five rebounds and six assists per game.

The difference between styles of play is evident when looking at the possessions per 48 minutes for each team. The Bulls averaged 91 possessions per 48 minutes which was good for 20th in the NBA during the season while the Warriors are second in the NBA this season with 99 possessions per 48 minutes.

However, despite these differences in possession numbers, the teams are nearly identical in terms of points scored and points allowed per possession. The Bulls have the advantage in points scored and the Warriors have the edge in points allowed per possession, but these are differences by less than one point each.

No matter how you look at it, the Warriors of this season and the Bulls of 1996 are on equal ground in nearly every statistical category.

Perhaps the biggest point of concern for Warriors fans should be the big games still to come. Through 45 games, the Warriors have played just 20 games against teams at or above .500. For comparison, the Bulls played 25 games against above .500 teams in the same stretch.

Big games in the remainder of the season for the Warriors include three against the Oklahoma City Thunder and two more against the San Antonio Spurs, who still trail the Warriors by three games in the Western Conference.

The game Wednesday against the Mavericks is also important because it could put the Warriors one-up on the Bulls. The Bulls lost their 46th game of the 1995-1996 season.

The last time the Warriors and Mavericks met, the Mavericks won by 23 in a game Curry missed due to injury. This time, Curry will play and the Warriors will have a chance to get revenge and continue their record-breaking pace.

Whether the Warriors will catch or surpass the Bulls of 1996 has yet to be seen, but the game on Wednesday could be a good indication of their chances.