Peyton's new place?

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on the sidelines during a game against the Ravens in Baltimore,...

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on the sidelines during a game against the Ravens in Baltimore, Md., Dec. 11, 2011. (JOE GIZA/Reuters)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:17 AM ET

If the Indianapolis Colts divorce Peyton Manning, he’ll be attracting more lustful glances from the pimpled and deficient than a Homecoming Queen at the senior prom.

The Arizona Cardinals are the latest to suggest they’d take a serious run at Manning if the four-time MVP becomes a free agent.

The Cardinals haven’t had a premier quarterback since Kurt Warner retired. They thought Kevin Kolb might be the guy this season, but he’s still got cleat marks over his back from playing behind an offensive line that had more holes than Paris Hilton’s head.

Not sure why Manning would put himself in a spot like that, considering he’s 35 and would be coming off serious neck surgery. A Larry Fitzgerald-Manning tandem would be intriguing. The only problem is the Cardinals have allowed 104 sacks in the past two seasons — Kolb was sacked 30 times in just nine games and suffered a concussion late in the season.

That’s a meat-grinder Manning is unlikely to walk into willingly. And it’s not like he won’t have other options — such as the Redskins, who will come calling. But they’re nowhere near contending, so it wouldn’t make much sense for a guy with only two or three years left in his career to hook up with Mike Shanahan’s travelling circus.

Ahh, but then there are the Dolphins and Jets. Both are interested and both are much more comfortable fits.

To find the last time Miami had a reliable quarterback, it would be necessary to consult the Smithsonian Institute. But they are a team with some upside, unlike Arizona’s desert-dogs. The Colts must pay Manning, who was sidelined for the entire season, a $28 million bonus if he is still on the roster March 8. Speculation is they’ll release him and draft college star Andrew Luck.

Manning’s best bet to get back to a Super Bowl might be the Jets. Despite the dysfunction of 2011, this is a team with a lot of talent. Manning might restore a little professionalism to this franchise. While Rex Ryan is running his mouth, Manning could run the offence and, at the same time, tutor Mark Sanchez.

Finally, some class. You can’t put a price on that — but the Jets should try.

NOT TAKING SUPER MOMENT FOR GRANTED

Canadian kids play road hockey and dream of the NHL and playing with Wayne and Sidney, or anyone who has ever worn a Maple Leafs’ jersey.

Others dream of being the next Kobe Bryant.

Rob Gronkowski remembers watching Tom Brady go to the Super Bowl.

Now, he’s living the dream. “Middle school, high school, I saw Tom Brady go to the Super Bowl many times. It’s great to be part of this team,” Gronkowski said. “I watched them go to the Super Bowl as I was growing up and now I’m part of it? It is an unreal moment and you can’t take it for granted.”

And he’s not going to miss it, even if he has to hop all the way to Indianapolis on one foot. Gronkowski was in a walking boot after having Ravens’ safety Bernard Pollard roll up on his ankle. But he did return to the game and he was in the locker room celebrating with team-mates. He also spoke with media, assuring everyone he wil be able to play in two weeks.

ROOKIES GET OFF THE BENCH FOR PRO BOWL

Tom Brady and Eli Manning are going to the Super Bowl, which means rookies Andy Dalton and Cam Newton get a nice consolation prize.

Newton, the Panthers’ rookie QB who became the first player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500, has been named to the Pro Bowl, replacing Manning. Dalton has been added to the AFC team to replace Brady. The game is this Sunday in Hawaii. Newton revitalized the Panthers, setting an NFL record by running for 14 TDs. He also threw 21 TD passes and is a top contender for AFC Rookie of the Year.

The Panthers went from last in the league in total offence in 2010 to seventh in 2011.

Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers also was added to the NFC roster, replacing the Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul. Peppers makes his seventh Pro Bowl in 10 seasons. He is the first Bears defensive end to make two straight Pro Bowls since Richard Dent in 1984-85.

PATS: PHEW, THAT WAS CLOSE

The Patriots dodged a bullet Sunday.

And, it had nothing to do with Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff, although with the “Shanks a lot” headline in the New York Post, that might be many people’s first guess.

New England came close to committing football’s version of hiri-kiri. The Patriots had three turnovers, including two Tom Brady interceptions, against the Ravens. “We’ve really escaped ... It’s one stat, losing the turnover battle pretty much correlates to losing,” said Brady.

Teams with three or more giveaways had lost their last 22 playoff games prior to Sunday.

The last team to win before Sunday? The Patriots, in the 2007 AFC Championship Game, against the Chargers.


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