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What the loss of Manning has cost the Colts

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Peyton Manning has been forced to watch from the sidelines during the Colts' 0-8 start this year.

While much of our use of Total QBR has focused on providing insight into the play of the league’s quarterbacks, it also can also provide perspective on a quarterback who hasn’t played a down yet this year.

On Monday the Indianapolis Colts announced that Peyton Manning, who has had three neck surgeries in the past 19 months, will be kept on the active roster all season. This means that he will be able to practice with the team and possibly play in a game.

Manning, who has been jokingly touted by some pundits as the league MVP this season by simply not playing, was the best quarterback in the NFL according to Total QBR from 2008-10. His QBR of 77.2 over those three seasons was nearly 10 points higher than the next player on the list, Aaron Rodgers (68.9)

His absence from the Colts this year has clearly had a significant impact on the team, starting with their 0-8 record. With Manning as QB, the team had nine straight winning seasons, which was the second-longest active streak in the NFL. Without him, that streak will now definitely come to an end.

Let’s take a closer look at the Colts’ issues this year, and see if we can determine the actual statistical loss by the team without Manning behind center.

The Colts’ defense has declined this year, punctuated by a 62-7 loss to the Saints in Week 7. They are allowing a league-worst 31.5 points per game, but if you take out that 62-point blowout, they are giving up 27.1 points per game. That’s just three points more than last year’s defense allowed (24.3).

Colts Offense - NFL Ranks Since 1998

The offense has been hurt the most with Manning out. They’re averaging 294.9 yards per game (30th in NFL) in 2011, compared to 380.8 (4th) last year.

The rushing game, however, has actually improved, gaining 4.5 yards per carry (tied for 9th) this season after averaging just 3.8 yards per rush in 2010 (tied for 25th).

It's the passing game, which Manning orchestrated to near-perfection over the last 10-plus seasons, that has really taken a hit. From his rookie year in 1998 through last season, the Colts were the most prolific passing team in the league. This season they rank among the worst passing teams.

Applying the numbers behind Total QBR, which has a 0-to-100 rating scale but also uses a framework that is based on points, we can estimate the points produced by the Colts quarterbacks this year compared to Manning last year.

This analysis shows that the Colts have lost about 60 points over their eight games this season, or roughly eight points per game, when they replaced the best quarterback in the league with nearly the worst.

Looking back through their schedule, there are four losses by eight points or less that the Colts – using this analysis - could have won this year with Manning under center. Those four wins are a starting point in trying to estimate what the loss of Peyton Manning has cost the Colts.