Official team photos from the New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons game on Sunday, December 21, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints photos)
- There already is talk that Andrew Luckis the current choice of quarterbacks who'd be the first pick around whom to build a franchise. He certainly has looked the part for Indianapolis in his first three NFL seasons, each of which has concluded with a playoff trip in which the Colts progressively have advanced closer to the Super Bowl. Last season, when Indy reached the AFC championship game, he posted career highs in touchdown passes (40), passing yards (4,761), completions (380) and completion percentage (61.7), while being sacked a career-low 27 times in the regular season. He isn't just the best young quarterback in the league; he's one of the best, period.
- It's always interesting to hear the varying opinions on Atlanta's Matt Ryan. Let's just stay with the facts: Last year, Ryan completed 415 of 628 passes for 4,694 yards (fifth-most in the league) and 28 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions. In two games against the New Orleans Saints, he was 61-for-83 for 770 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. In the last three seasons, he hasn't passed for fewer than 4,515 yards and 26 touchdowns, hasn't topped 17 interceptions and hasn't completed fewer than 66.1 percent of his passes. No team rejoices at the prospect of seeing him twice.
- It appears that the demise of Eli Manning'sgame has been greatly exaggerated. The Giants' two-time, Super Bowl-winning quarterback bounced back from an 18-touchdown, 27-interception season in 2013 to post a 30-touchdown, 14-interception year in 2014. It could get even better for him this year, with improved weapons (beginning with second-year receiver Odell Beckham Jr.). It just doesn't seem wise to write off the New Orleans native and former Newman star, who passed for 4,410 yards last year while completing a career-high 63.1 percent of his passes.
- Detroit's difficulty keeping Matthew Staffordupright last season – he was sacked a career-high 45 times – wasn't a sign that Stafford isn't still an elite quarterback. He completed 363 of 602 passes for 4,257 yards and 22 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, while playing all 16 games for the fourth consecutive season. He helped the Lions pull out a nail-biter against the Saints in Detroit last season (27 for 40 for 299 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions), so the Saints know exactly what he's capable of doing.
- This spot was a bit of a tossup between Dallas' Tony Romoand Carolina's Cam Newton. Newton poses more of a problem as a dual threat – he likely is the Panther's best running back. But if we take into account career consistency and surrounding impact players on offense, we'll go with Romo in this spot. Last year was his best NFL season (304 of 435 for 3,705 yards and 34 touchdowns, with nine interceptions) and for all the criticism he receives, he has thrown 10 or less interceptions in three of the last four seasons. Obviously, his career season in efficiency coincided with having the league's leading rusher (DeMarco Murray) in the backfield with him. But Romo has been productive regardless of who has been running the ball in Dallas.