Alternate History

1998 Draft: Manning & Leaf Take A Different Road

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With the first pick of the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Ryan Leaf, quarterback from Washington State...

Moments later...

With the second pick, of the 1998 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select Peyton Manning, quarterback from Tennessee...

NFL history is changed forever...

1998 Leaf and the Colts have an awful season, finishing 1-15 whereas the Manning led Chargers have a solid 9-7 season.

1999 sees San Diego and Manning make the playoffs under first year coach Mike Riley with a record of 14-2! The Colts improve with Leaf going 8-8 but short of the playoffs. In this season Buffalo coming off a win over Kansas City pulls off the upset in San Diego beating the Chargers 13-7 to advance to the AFC Championship...

2000 sees Leaf and the Colts making the playoffs with a record of 9-7 while the Manning led Chargers have a miserable 7-9 record. In the playoffs Indianapolis beats Oakland 28-24 in the wild-card game before falling to Tennessee in a 34-6 butt whipping.

2001 saw Leaf and the Colts drop to 6-10 and Leaf being cut from the Colts due to personal issues off the field. While the Colts struggle the Chargers rebound to a 12-4 record. With Manning at the helm San Diego defeats their rival Oakland Raiders 27-21 in the divisional round and then pulling off an upset over the favored Pittsburgh Steelers, 23-16! San Diego advances to their second Superbowl while Manning enters his first. Their opponent, the St. Louis Rams squash the Chargers hopes of a Superbowl ring, 34-16!

In 2002 with Leaf no longer a Colt, Patrick Ramsey and Tony Dungy begin a new era in Indianapolis but the outcome is another 6-10 record. In San Diego the Chargers finish the season 11-5 and in the playoffs yet again. In their first wild-card matchup with the New York Jets, the Chargers pull off a 27-10 win. However Oakland would have their revenge from the previous playoff loss the year beforee by ending San Diego's chance of repeating as AFC Champs, 24-17 in the divisional round.

2003 saw the Colts improve to 7-9 and the Chargers matching that record. Both teams missed the playoffs.

2004 saw both teams in the playoffs. The Colts finished 10-6, their best season in years! San Diego finished the season 15-1, their best season ever! Indianapolis beat Denver 49-24 behind the arm of Patrick Ramsey in the wild-card round. In the divisional round it was San Diego who ends the Colts season with a 45-38 win to advance to their second AFC Championship in four years. The Chargers once again beat Pittsburgh enroute to the Superbowl, this time 9-7. In the Superbowl they face the Carolina Panthers and in overtime the Chargers pull off the win 21-20! Manning and the Chargers are Superbowl Champions for the first time!

2005 sees both teams back in the playoffs, Indianapolis finishing 12-4 while San Diego finishes 14-2. New England ends Ramsey and the Colts season with a 35-13 beating. The Chargers however beat Denver 24-13 in the divisional round before beating the New England Patriots 27-13 for back-to-back AFC titles! In the Superbowl for the second straight year, the Chargers face the Seattle Seahawks who in turn end the Chargers Superbowl reign with a 37-22 win over San Diego...

2006 the Colts and Ramsey drop a notch falling to 6-10 after two great seasons... The Chargers however become the first team since the Dolphins to go undefeated in a season, 16-0! The Chargers again face Denver in the divisional round, beating them 32-20 before facing the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship. Looking to do what few teams have done before, three straight Superbowl appearances, the Chargers fall flat... The Ravens win the AFC title dethroning the Chargers 30-10!

2007 saw the Colts improve to 9-7 but short of the playoffs and San Diego's season went as it did in OTL.

In 2008 the Colts finish 6-10, Dungy leaves Indianapolis and returns to Tampa Bay to coach the remainder of his career. The Chargers with Mike Riley still coach and Manning at quarterback finish the season 14-2. In the divisional round the Chargers knock off Miami barely by a score of 22-21. Their season comes up short when the Steelers finally get one from the Chargers beating them in the AFC Championship by a score of 13-10 enroute to a Superbowl title.

In 2009 the Colts finish 7-9, Ramsey is not retained following the season. The Chargers on the other hand finish 14-2 and face a scrappy Baltimore Ravens team that three years prior beat them in the AFC Championship... The Chargers and Manning have no trouble with the Ravens this go around beating them 28-17 before falling to the New England Patriots 31-22 in the AFC Championship...

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