He may want to re-think that.
The Colts are devastated by injuries, but they carry on. Against the Houston Texans on Monday night -- in a game for first place in the AFC South -- Manning was without star tight end Dallas Clark, top runner in Joseph Addai and second-leading receiver Austin Collie.
So all Manning did was throw for 268 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Colts' 30-17 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium that puts them alone atop the AFC South. Manning threw touchdown passes to Reggie Wayne and Jacob Tamme, Clark's replacement.
I joked that Manning could throw to me and some of my press box mates and still have success. That's stretching it. I think.
This much isn't: You can subtract any of the other Colts, but as long as Manning and defensive end Dwight Freeney are on the field, they will be a playoff factor. Manning scores the points, Freeney ends the game with sacks and/or fumbles, which he did late in Monday's game.
"Those two guys make it happen in crunch time," said one Colts player. "That's why they get the money they do."
Well, Freeney got his. He signed a new deal three years ago for $72 million. Strangely, Manning is still waiting for his, which is becoming an issue.
Manning, despite what Ron Jaworski said a few weeks ago, is still playing as well as ever. His decision-making is second to none and he's in his prime, which is why his contract is fast becoming a hot topic.
Manning is in the final year of a six-year, $98 million deal. Irsay already has said he's willing to make him the highest-paid player in the league, but also added this week that he was prepared to make an offer during the team's bye last week. However, Manning and agent Tom Condon want to wait until after the season.
The reason: Manning wants to concentrate on football. Can you blame him? The guy is a football junkie, second to none, and the last thing he wants is a call from his agent talking contract specifics. That might cut into film study.
Manning didn't want to discuss his contract after Monday's game, but this is what I've gleaned about the talks the past few months: The Manning camp badly wanted to do a deal before the season began in part to keep Manning's focus on football.
The Colts could have done a deal but didn't. Maybe they were waiting to see what Tom Brady did. He signed a four-year extension worth $18 million a year with $48.5 million in guaranteed money in August. Irsay said the parameters of that deal would be used for Manning's contract. I would guess that it would go beyond that.
Let's be real here. Manning isn't going anywhere. The Colts can slap the franchise tag on him, but that would cost them about $23 million next season and close to $26 million the season after that. That's close to the $50 million or so Manning would likely get in guaranteed money on a long-term deal, so it would be foolish to think he wouldn't play for the tag money. If he did, it would be a huge cap hit for the Colts, which is why it's in their best interest to get a deal done.
The downside to playing for the tag is that if he were to get hurt, he might not see the second year. But he's playing on a one-year deal this season since his contract expires, so the risk is there.
With the Colts doing all the public talking on the matter, the thinking might be that Manning is being made to be the bad guy in these negotiations. Neither he nor his agent has talked publicly about the contract, while Irsay has several times.
Without a CBA between the players and owners, and a potential lockout coming, it could be impacting the talks. So could good, old-fashioned cash. Irsay has said in the past that he's gone into his own pockets to pay signing-bonus money. It's not easy cutting $50 million checks, even for rich NFL owners.
Shouldn't Manning get his?
The Colts are great at getting players to step up on offense when others go down, mainly because of Manning. It's easier to run when he's in the lineup, which he always is considering he's never missed a start.
Maybe that helps explain how third-team running back Mike Hart starts against the Texans on Monday and rushes for 84 yards on 12 carries. It's also why guys like Tamme (six catches, 64 yards) can look a lot like Clark -- who is out for the year -- when he's called upon to do so.
"We expect them to go in and perform just like the person they are replacing," Colts coach Jim Caldwell said.
Said Manning: "Everybody is dealing with injuries. I'm not going to beat the point in. Whoever is in there has to find a way to do the job. It's not always going to be pretty or perfect. You just kind of keep grinding. That's kind of the word we use around here. Keep grinding and keep trying to make some plays."
The Colts jumped to a 14-0 lead on Manning's 2-yard touchdown pass to Tamme and then a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown by Kelvin Hayden. The Texans cut it to 10, but never got any closer.
This was the same Texans team that ran over the Colts in Week 1. That victory was called a statement game of sorts for the Texans, a chance to show that they were ready to push the Colts out of the division’s top spot.
So here's the statement about this game: Houston isn't ready for the Colts (5-2), who are one game ahead of the Texans and Titans. The Texans don't play defense well enough to beat the Colts consistently. If the two teams played 10 times on a neutral field, the Colts would win nine.
The Indianapolis defense was without two starters in the secondary (safety Bob Sanders and corner Jerraud Powers) Monday as well as nickel corner Jacob Lacey. Yet the unit is improving. The defense limited Houston to 3 of 11 on third-down conversions. In the past three games, the defense has held opponents to 8 of 34 on third-down conversions.
That will win a lot of games. It also will give the ball back to Manning, which no opponent wants.
Manning isn't a one-man team, but he's as valuable as any one player in the league. Take away his runners, his receivers and anybody else on the offense and replace them with ordinary Joes -- or Jacobs -- and the Colts will still move the football.
It's him. It's always been him
As long as he's upright throwing passes and Freeney is on the field knocking the other passer down, the Colts are a Super Bowl threat.