ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Peyton Manning's former teammate thinks the quarterback is playing the best football of his career.
Yesterday on ESPN's NFL Live, Jeff Saturday, who played 12 years with Manning in Indianapolis, said it "pains" him to say it, but he believes Manning looks even better now.
"He has this entire offense in mid-to-late season form," Saturday said. "He's making checks. He's making audibles. He's putting when they're in a six-man box on defense in a nickel look. He's running the ball down the middle. He's allowing every playmaker he has on the field to make the plays they're called to make."
"It's just an incredible rapport that he has with this team."
Fellow NFL Live panelists Tim Hasselbeck and Jerome Bettis chimed in on Saturday's thoughts.
"You go back to when you (Saturday) were playing with him, and you guys were scheme-blocking all the play-action, it destroyed the NFL. In a lot of ways, it's exactly the way he's destroying the NFL now," Hasselbeck said. "I think now we're seeing a smarter player."
What stood out to Bettis wasn't necessarily Manning's NFL-record 12 touchdowns. It's the zero interceptions.
"The one stat that we are not talking about: zero interceptions," Bettis said. "He's gone through three games with zero interceptions. The last time he's done that was 2010. Career highs in yardage, passing, completions, so this tells me he's on the road to an even bigger year than he had in 2010 – and that was a career year."
After Monday's win against the Raiders, Manning was asked if he feels as good as he ever has as an NFL quarterback.
"I can't say that," he said. "This is a new season. It's one week at a time. I don't have a great comparison to other years. But guys are making good plays in the passing game and we are doing a good job getting yards after the catch. That makes a big difference."