Future bright with Joe

The Baltimore Sun

So it's the year 2018. The NFL is planning a Super Bowl in Beijing. Las Vegas has been awarded a franchise with a stadium overlooking the Strip, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has Adam Jones on double-secret suspension for giving Jerry Jones a wedgie.

Oh yeah, and veteran quarterback Joe Flacco is trying to bring home Baltimore's "one for the thumb" Super Bowl title that would officially make the Ravens the Team of the Teens.

All right, so some of that is pure fantasy, but perhaps not so much the part about the Ravens and their potential future with Flacco under center. So while Manning might be more accomplished at the moment, Flacco has a longer-term upside.

It is a close call, but here's what I like about Flacco over Manning.

First, the obvious. At 23, Flacco is four years younger than Manning.

They are both pretty big, but Flacco, at 6 feet 6, is two inches taller and with defenders getting bigger and faster, every inch and pound counts.

Flacco seems to have the bigger arm, and, even now, he might have a broader repertoire of passes than Manning.

And finally, while Manning appeared susceptible to pressure until last year's Super Bowl run, Flacco seems to be utterly unflappable. OK, if you had to pick one of the two for one game right now, it would be hard to argue against the experience of Manning.

But as you consider a 10-year horizon and the fact that the Ravens have just started to assemble an offense around Flacco, the crystal ball says that the kid from the University of Delaware will be taking the Ravens to the playoffs when the Manning boys are serving as retired honorary coin flippers for that Super Bowl in China.

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