Two future iconic inductee hall of fame quarterbacks meet on Sunday when Peyton Manning leads the Denver Broncos against Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in Brady’s backyard.
Brady, a 6th round draft pick out of Michigan in 2000, holds the edge over Manning leading 6-2 in their epic rivalry when playing in New England, but the latter is currently the best QB in the league. The Broncos (9-1) are top of the AFC West and the Patriots (7-3) in a similar position top of the AFC East with both teams competing to be the best in the AFC.
Manning has so far outshone Brady, the latter overall 13th in both touchdowns and yards, whilst Manning has been superiorly dominant and unsurprisingly sits 1st.
The Patriots though must be considered favourites due to the game being played in New England at the Gillette Stadium, a place they rarely lose at and somewhere they are undefeated this season; since the stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts opened in 2002 the Patriot’s record stands at 78-16.
Additionally the Broncos aren’t as dominant on the road as they are at home, they are 3-1 on the road with two of those victories coming by only one score. But out of all the records Peyton has equalled or broken this season the one that will physic him up the most will be the record of most wins on the road in the regular season (74) surpassing the legendary Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre.
The biggest match-up so far between the two resulted in Manning’s only Superbowl ring. During his days at the Indianapolis Colts he beat Brady’s Patriots 38-34 in the 2006 AFC Championship game with Manning throwing 349 yards, touted by some as the greatest comeback in AFC Championship game history; Brady has three Superbowl rings.
Last time the franchises met Brady can up on top 31-21 in week 5 of the 2012/13 season, but since then the Broncos have gone 20-1 in the regular season.
Something Brady has had to contend with this season is an entirely new look O, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd were released, Welker moved to the Broncos and Stevan Ridley and Gronk were injured at the start of the season and have only just returned. The Patriot’s offense isn’t as explosive as it was last season and it can be seen as well, currently sitting 8th with a points ratio of 25.4 points per game.
Denver will look use the run to set up the pass to protect Peyton and give Brady as few opportunities as possible with the football. New England are thin inside with the losses of veteran D Tackle Vince Wilfork, linebacker Jerod Mayo and cornerback Aqib Talib (doubtful with a hip injury) reasoning to the yardage being given up on the ground, an average of 125 per game and 4.3 per carry, currently the 20th best defence in the league.
Another record held by both until Brady took it off Manning was 9 straight game wins with 3+ TDs.
Manning has overcome a big injury scare in his glistening career when on September 8th 2011 when his season was derailed when doctors performed a spinal fusion on him to repair a damaged nerve in his neck; it was Manning’s third neck surgery in 19 months and cost him the entirety of the season.
Advantage Brady for me, despite Manning’s form and predictions, the game is being played at the Gillette Stadium and his head-to-head record with Manning speaks volumes. But no doubt Sunday Night Football will be worth watching to give us a better idea who will heading to the MetLife Stadium for Superbowl XLVIII.