Flacco has risen to new heights in the playoffs this season, but he's not worth as much as Manning, no matter how much he and his "people" try to convince themselves.
If by "playing better than Manning" they're referring to Flacco's incredible month of January this year, then they're not wrong.
The stats bear this out.
Before we get into the merits of long-term success, let's take a look at what Manning and Flacco did just in 2012:
|Record||Comp. Pct.||Yards||TDs||INTs||Passer Rating||QBR|
Without taking anything away from Flacco's incredible performance in the playoffs, it's clear that he's nowhere near Manning's equal.
Manning's 4,659 yards accounted for nearly 72 percent of the entire offense for the Denver Broncos, and his 37 touchdowns accounted for over 75 percent of all offensive touchdowns scored by Denver in 2012.
Flacco's 3,817 yards accounted for under 65 percent of the entire offense for the Ravens, and his 22 touchdowns accounted for just over 56 percent of the touchdowns scored on offense by Baltimore in 2012.
Manning has been one of the NFL's top quarterbacks—if not the top—for almost a decade and a half.
He consistently has been the driving force behind the success behind his team, and we saw what happened with the Indianapolis Colts without him in 2011, when the team went 2-14.
Manning's value is undeniable, and his teams are nothing without him.
Flacco has benefited from being on a team loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. He has one of the NFL's top running backs behind him on every play, has Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith on the outside and Dennis Pitta at tight end.
Yet he barely completes 60 percent of his passes on an annual basis, and he's only thrown 25 touchdowns in a season once.
Manning has never thrown fewer than 26 touchdowns in a season—including his rookie year.
Here's how they stack up, looking at their yearly averages:
|Comp. Pct.||Yards||TDs||INTs||Passer Rating|
Beyond the Numbers
Numbers aside, there's a reason Manning's Colts fell apart last year when he wasn't available, and it wasn't just because he's so magnificent.
Manning's gargantuan salary makes building a complete team around him darn-near impossible.
The Broncos are getting away with it right now because some of the team's top players are still in their rookie contracts. Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker will all be needing extensions sometime soon, and once that happens, it'll be interesting to see how it plays out.
As it stands now, the Broncos have a dilemma coming up regarding left tackle Ryan Clady, who is getting ready to hit the free market.
If Flacco demands a Manning-type salary, he'll hurt his team's chances of competing in the future, which is bad enough. Making matters worse, he's not nearly as dominant as Manning, and so the cap hit will affect the Ravens even more than Manning's hit has affected the Colts and the Broncos.
Demanding a salary of $20 million or more per year may be good for Flacco's ego, but he's simply not worth it, and if Baltimore does shell out that kind of cash, the Ravens will pay for it in the years to come.
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