For the 14th time, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are set to face off in an NFL game. The Denver Broncos will visit the New England Patriots in Week 12 on "Sunday Night Football."
The two quarterbacks are considered two of the greatest to have ever played the game, as well as the best signal callers of their generation. The debate, however, has raged over who is the better player.
The perception has always been that Manning holds the edge in regular season statistics, while Brady has an advantage when it comes to team success. However, the argument may not be that simple.
Manning will likely break several records by the time he calls it quits, including passing yards and touchdowns. He’s averaged more than two touchdown passes per game, compared to Brady’s 1.86. Manning’s completion percentage is also higher. He ranks fifth all-time at 65.4 percent.
Brady’s numbers, though, are not that far behind those of Manning. The Patriots quarterback isn’t close to having the career totals of his counterpart, but he’s played in three less full seasons. Brady also had, arguably, the best single season among the two, by throwing for 4,806 yards, 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2007.
It’s not arguable that Brady’s teams have won more, considering they he has three Super Bowl rings in five tries, compared to Manning’s one win in two trips. In the regular season, however, the quarterbacks’ teams have had almost identical performances. As a starter, Brady has led his team to less than 10 wins just once, and at least 13 wins on five different occasions. Not including his rookie season, Manning can make the same claim.
In their head-to-head matchups, it’s clear which player has gotten the better of the other. Manning has thrown for more touchdowns (27 to 23) and averaged more yards per contest (293.9 to 235.3), but New England has come out on the winning end more often than not. Brady is 9-4 against Manning, including playoff games. The Michigan grad has been more efficient too, throwing seven fewer interceptions and posting a higher passer rating (95.3 to 86.7).
In 2013, there is no debate. Manning may be having the best single season for any quarterback in the history of the NFL. His 3,572 passing yards, and 34 touchdowns have him on pace to set new records. Brady is putting up his worst numbers in years, with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Having played much of the first half for the season without top targets Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski hasn't helped, as well as losing Wes Welker to Manning’s Broncos in the offseason.
The Patriots remain one of the best teams in the AFC, but Denver is the class of the NFL. They have blown out most of their opponents and sport the highest-scoring offense the league has ever seen. At 9-1, they visit 7-3 New England as road favorites, and will likely go through the entire season without ever being the underdog.
Past meetings would indicate that the Patriots have the advantage on Sunday. Manning, though, is playing better than he ever has before and could get a rare win against his chief competition.