Philip Rivers’ amazing season outshining Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

Colts QB Philip Rivers’ season is ending fantastically.

Indianapolis quarterback Philip Rivers’ renaissance with the Indianapolis Colts is worth a visit from the ghosts of NFL Christmases: Rivers’ Past, Present and Future. They reveal things to confound the doubters.

But first, may we please blow your mind with some little known facts?

Taking the Whiners to the Woodshed

This is especially for media “experts” and fans who despise(d) Rivers joining the Colts, sneer at his career, and pine for the golden eras of Andrew Luck and the immortal Manning — and you know who you are — a trip to the woodshed is due:

Rivers’ Colts average pass completion percentage this season of 68.1% is better than Peyton Manning’s career average of 65.3%, or Andrew Luck’s 60.79%.

So many fans and media spin the narrative that River’s weakness is interceptions (“He always gets picked off at the worst time”, blah blah blah). Take this smack bravely on your dadgum britches: 

Rivers’ INT ratio  (9 picks in 14 games =.64 per game) this year is better than Manning’s (1.06) or Luck’s (1.04)  career averages.

“Ah, yeah, well,” they might say, “But the real evaluation is in the Quarterback Rating.” Bend over for some more smack and whack:

After 14 games, Rivers’ QBR this season  of 98.4 is better than Peyton Manning’s avg of 96.5 or Andrew Luck’s of 89.5.

Here endeth the lesson.  Some of the national media “experts” should find a pillow to sit on*.

[*In case anyone wants to protest the metaphorical whuppin’ I alluded to as encouraging child abuse, I categorically state that I am against corporal punishment. Besides, my son stands 6-2 , and lifts, and I am not as foolish as I look.]

The Ghost of Christmas Present: Mr. December

Just as Peyton Manning was the undisputed sheriff of the team, Rivers is the old gunslinger who commands respect.

Q:  What do Old Man Rivers’ current teammates call him?

A:  Uncle Phil.

Everybody should have a fun uncle. The guy who smokes cigars, wears Hawaiian shirts to church, sneaks teenagers a few sips of beer at the campfire, and is often laughing with you, but not at you.

But as much as ‘ol Uncle Phil is fun, he is also the Mother Tucker In Charge. His Hall of Fame predecessor with the San Diego Chargers, Dan Fouts, wore a hat in practice that said exactly that: “M.F.I.C.”

Rivers famously never cusses, of course, and his hat has long declared “Nunc Coepi”; which is a motto in Latin for “Now I begin (all over) again”.

Phil is always Phil, and his teammates appreciate his fire, his knowledge, and his Huckleberry Finn honesty.

You have to perform on the field to be a leader off the field, and Rivers has done that, as he has done for the last 16 seasons as a starting quarterback. Rivers’ stats have steadily improved in this pandemic-shortened season with a new team, and he is worth more than his stats to the W-L column in his example, his teaching, and the coruscating pillar of fire that is his competitive nature.

Christmas Present is Rivers as Mr. December. His record in December for 16 seasons is freakishly good. So far this year, he is 2-0.

Philip Rivers #17 and head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts shake hands before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars  September 13, 2020 .(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Christmas Past: Comparing Rivers’ History to His Colts Comeback

When last Christmas arrived, Rivers had 20 interceptions, 1.25 per game.

This year his average to date is 0.64 interceptions per game. If he gives up one INT over the next two games, this season will be in his top four for fewest interceptions over 17 seasons as a starter.    

This huge improvement is in no small part thanks to the fantastic five, an offensive line as good as Rivers had in his best seasons (14-2, 12-4, 13-2, etc).

Rivers’ career average completion percentage: a sparkling 64.8%, but through 14 games with Indianapolis, he sits at 68.1%.

In the past, his 16-year average Passer Rating was 95. This year:  98.4, which is currently in the top nine in the league with two games to go.

Q:  With two games to go, and a current passer rating of 98.4, will Rivers average 108 the last two games and break 100?  

A:  That rests on the Pittsburgh game this week, the toughest defense the Colts will play this year. Submit your guess on Rivers breaking  a100 passer rating avg. in comments below.

Philip Rivers’ Christmas Future

Here’s my Bold Prediction: I predict that Philip Rivers and the Colts will win the Super Bowl.

Or not. A football is made pointy so that it will take funny bounces. The Colts could beat the Pittsburgh Steelers this week, and then stumble over the Jaguars the next week.

We do know that Rivers has had some great games in Pittsburgh, and the entire Colts team has had to wait the whole season to exact revenge on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who stole the Colts’ cookies in the first game of the year. That avoidable loss to the Jags may well prevent the Colts from seizing the divisional crown and home field “advantage,” whatever that means with empty stadiums.

I will predict that the Colts try to bring Uncle Phil back for one to two years. I will predict that Rivers ups his 2020 QBR to 100 plus over the last two regular season games.

The path ahead is blocked by four fierce dragons: Tennessee, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. But those four all have chinks in their armor.

The Colts need to keep improving in all three phases, but beating Pittsburgh would change the national playoff conversation.