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Elite Eight: Polamalu Vs. P. Manning
Authored by Andrew Perna - 10th September, 2009 - 12:35 pm

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Thanks for following the contest thus far gang, we'll conclude the Elite Eight today as Steelers safety Troy Polamalu takes on Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

How They Got Here

Polamalu edged Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco with 65% of the vote in the Sweet Sixteen, while Manning shot past Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew to reach the Elite Eight.

Why Polamalu Is A Franchise Player

He was first a novelty because of his long hair and hard hits, but is now one of the league's most consistent playmakers. He grabbed seven interceptions in 2008, and has tallied seven sacks, seven forced fumbles and 17 picks in his six-year NFL career (doesn't it seem longer?).

Polamalu makes plays all over the field, and is exceptional in both run and pass coverage. His numbers prove his ability to cause turnovers in a variety of ways. If you don't think the safety is important to the Steelers, you're horribly wrong. They were 3-2 without him in 2007, when they went 11-5 overall.

He has made five-straight Pro Bowls, is a two-time First Team All-Pro selection and, obviously, has a pair of Super Bowl rings on his million-dollar fingers.

Why Manning Is A Franchise Player

In a few decades, you'll be able to tell your kids (or grand kids) that you had the pleasure of watching Peyton Manning play perhaps the best football we've ever seen from a quarterback.

He's had many a record-setting season, but his efforts in 2008 were especially impressive. The numbers weren't eye-popping, but he was able to lead the Colts to yet another playoff appearance after offseason surgery, problems on the offensive line and the regression of good buddy Marvin Harrison.

Only three players have more touchdown passes in NFL history, and he'll likely pass Fran Tarkenton for third place in the first half of the 2009 season. With Brett Favre lingering longer than expected, it's becoming more and more unlikely that Peyton will finish at the top of the TD list, but his passer rating is much better and ranks second all-time.

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Andrew Perna is Deputy Editor of RealGM.com and co-host of RealGM's Radio Show. Please feel free to contact him with comments or questions via e-mail: Andrew.Perna@RealGM.com. You can also follow Andrew on Twitter: APerna7.