You can’t talk about rivalries in the NFL without discussing the magnitude of Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. They have met fourteen times before, and the Patriots have dominated Peyton with a 10-4 SU record, including many pivotal playoff clashes. The question remains: does Peyton have enough firepower to topple his greatest adversary this weekend?
That all depends on how you approach this game, which has the Broncos favored by -4.5 points at Sports Authority Field. Peyton has been busy all year busting up Brady’s record book. Manning’s 55 touchdowns this season was the most by any quarterback, and eclipsed Brady’s previous record of 50 scores. The 2013 Broncos also outscored the 2007 New England Patriots with 644 points on the year, besting the previous mark of 587.
Beyond that, Manning claimed the most passing yards thrown by any quarterback with a mind numbing 5,477 which snuck him by Drew Brees by a single yard. We’re talking about Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning now because they’re lined up against each other in the conference finale, but the debate between the two never caught fire like it usually does in the regular season. This was Peyton Manning at his finest, and Brady’s Patriots were too ravaged by injuries to keep up statistically.
In other words, this was a hallmark year for Peyton Manning who is just two years removed from a series of neck surgeries that left his career in serious doubt. Even without all the procedures, he’s still 37 years old! He is a man that seems untouched by time, and while there is a long, 13 year history of his shenanigans in the playoffs, you can’t deny that Manning keeps getting better with age.
That’s why it’s impossible to put a major amount of credence in to the idea that Manning is in for a bad playoff game just because that’s his tendency. During his entire career, Manning has averaged 281.4 yards, a 64.1 completion percentage and 1.6 touchdowns with 1.0 interception per playoff game. This goes hand in hand with an 88.8 quarterback rating average over the playoffs as well. He’s been in 21 post season games throughout his career. It’s understandable that he’d experience so many awful games compared to the rest of his peers.
However, there is one quarterback who has played in more games this late in the year and that’s Tom Brady who has 25 post season appearances. Brady’s statistics aren’t as impressive as Manning’s but his credentials are far better. Brady is tied for the most AFC Championships with John Elway at a grand total of five. If he wins this Sunday, he will take sole possession of that record.
Still, this just seems like the season where Manning is erasing Brady’s records from the history books. Could he deny Brady an AFC Championship win and then prevent him from tying the great Joe Montana’s Super Bowl championship record? It’s hard to ignore the fact that the Patriots bested the Broncos after being put in a 24-point hole during their regular season meeting. The discussion of Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning usually boils down to the fact that the Patriots have owned this rivalry outright.
There isn’t enough time left in the careers of these two greats for Manning to ever even the score overall against the Patriots, but he can do some serious damage to their title hopes with a home field advantage, perhaps the best offense he’s ever had and a very capable defense that is tutored by strong defensive minds like Jack del Rio and Jon Fox.
Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning is one of the greatest rivalries we’ve ever had and while the former owns the head-to-head record between the two, the latter has been proving an age old adage over and over this season: records are meant to be broken.