Brady vs. Manning 17: Why This One Matters

If Fast and the Furious ever gets this many sequels, I quit.

I understand if you’re exhausted from hearing about this. It’s a storyline that’s been shoved down your throat for 2 decades, and both quarterbacks have their detractors. There’s a reason you’ve heard all the narratives for as long as you have though.

The last time neither Peyton Manning nor Tom Brady were in the AFC Championship was in 2011. Before then, it was 2006. Brady and Manning will be facing off for the 17th time this weekend, but it will be the 5th time in the playoffs with both winning 2 games a piece. Manning actually has an edge on Brady, having won 2 of their 3 matchups in the AFC Championship. This time could (and should) be their last, and it will be for a shot at Super Bowl 50.

When you bring up Manning and Brady, you’re talking about two of the best to play their position, the most important position in the most watched sport in the country. One year separates the two in age (Manning 39, Brady 38), and they are both in the Top 6 of career touchdowns, yards and passer rating. Manning ranks 1st, 1st, and 5th, Brady is 3rd, 5th and 6th. Brady’s 4 Super Bowl rings compared to Manning’s 1 are pretty glaring, but it’s still too fitting to see either of these 2 get another chance to play on the biggest stage in sports. Just a year ago, the Super Bowl drew it’s largest audience with 114.4 million people watching.

The numbers for both quarterbacks in their 16 meetings make up that of a solid regular season. Manning has completed 410 of 657 passes (62.4%) for 4,809 yards, 33 TDs and 22 INTs (87.4 QB rating). Brady has completed 367 of 553 passes (66.4%) for 4,013 yards, 31 TDs and 13 INTs (96.5 QB rating). Brady leads the series 11-5, with an 8-2 record against Manning at Foxboro and split 3-3 in Indianapolis/Denver. In the last 10 years though, Manning is 2-0 in the playoffs against Brady. Neither one has won against each other on the road since 2007.

Who has the most to gain with a win this Sunday though, with legacies mostly cemented going? Brady holds the record for most playoff wins (22) and has a 73.3 win percentage while Manning holds the record for the most playoff losses (13). Regardless the result of Sunday’s game, Brady will go down as one of football’s all-time greats as a winner because of his post season hardware. Manning will unfortunately be remembered as the greatest “regular season” quarterback who only came home with the ultimate prize once out of 15 chances, with a younger brother holding a second ring over his head…unless he wins Sunday and February 7th.

It’s amazing Manning has reached this point following his worst statistical regular season of his career and having to sit out due to injury. He’s had transform his game from being the dominant quarterback to “game manager”, and it worked great against the Steelers. With a Super Bowl quality defense, all Manning has to do now is hand the ball off, make the right checks evaluating the coverage, not turn the ball over, and make a play when it’s needed.

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There are only 11 quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl rings:

Eli Manning – 2

Ben Roethlisberger – 2

John Elway – 2

Jim Plunkett – 2

Roger Staubach – 2

Bob Greise – 2

Bart Starr – 2

Troy Aikman – 3

Terry Bradshaw – 4

Joe Montana – 4

If Brady wins one more, he joins club of his own with 5. If Manning wins one more, he joins the club and fans will remember that more than the 13 playoff losses. Ask Elway, who lost 8 times before winning his 2 rings back-to-back to end his career. Can Manning have his Elway moment?

I tried to think about where this rivalry stacks up in sports. It’s not quite Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird. Two all-time greats, yes, but there were 8 championships won between the two (Magic 5, Bird 3) and they had to do it against each other in the Finals. Ali/Frazier was a whole different level of competition, and disrespect for each other. Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain though…

Russell is the greatest winner in basketball history with 11 championships and Chamberlain was statistically one of the best to ever play his position while winning his second ring late in his career. A big difference is that Russell and Chamberlain had to actually man-up on each other, but the legacy comparisons between them and Brady/Manning are certainly there.

Vote for your pick to win this weekend and check out more on Facebook or Twitter

NFL Week 9 Fantasy Mailbag

The second half of the fantasy season starts tonight with an AFC North rivalry matchup between the Bengals and the Browns. It’s likely been a serious waiver wire week for you with bye weeks and injuries to Le’Veon Bell, Matt Forte, Keenan Allen, Steve Smith Sr., and the entire Niners backfield all included. Let’s take a look at the best top waiver wire picks from this season. Coincidentally, a few will be featured in tonight’s game on NFL Network.

Quarterback – Andy Dalton, CIN

15 TD / 4 INT, 1,992 pass yards, 2 rushing TDs

Dalton TD

Any reason to recount that A-Dalt touchdown, I’ll take it.

In the first handful of weeks, people waited for Andy Dalton to fall apart and he didn’t. There was also a stretch of 4 games with potentially tough passing matchups (Baltimore, Kansas City, Seattle and Buffalo), and Dalton averaged 319.5 yards and 2.25 touchdowns against them. Having AJ Green and Marvin Jones healthy and Tyler Eifert playing to his potential are huge factors for that and why his success should sustain.

RB – Dion Lewis, NE

229 rush yards, 2 TDs / 32 catches, 349 receiving yards, 2 TDs

Dion TD

When you’re a running back in Bill Belichick’s system and you get on his good side, your numbers are going to benefit greatly from it. Dion Lewis was expected to be Shane Vereen’s replacement, but he’s he’s Shane Vereening better than Shane Vereen could (if that makes sense). In the 6 games Lewis has played, he has had more with double-digit touches than Marshawn Lynch, has scored touchdowns than Adrian Peterson, and more 100+ total yard games than Frank Gore and Justin Forsett.

WR – Allen Robinson, JAX

34 catches, 586 yards, 6 TDs

A-Rob TD

As Blake Bortles’s stock has risen, so has A-Rob’s. You can’t really sit him when he’s averaged 5.5 catches, 93 yards and 1 TD over the last 6 games. Robinson also leads all receivers in receptions of 20+ yards with 14.

TE – Gary Barnidge, CLE

40 catches, 567 yards, 6 TDs

Barnidging

Oh you didn’t draft Gronk? No worries because Gary Barnidge was available for EVERYONE after the first 3 weeks of the season. 30 years old and playing better than the rest of the tight ends in the league, Barnidge has scored touchdowns or caught for over 100 yards in every game since Week 3.

Mail Time!

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QB – That’s a really nice problem to have. While Philip Rivers is going to continue throwing it more than anyone with crazy high volume, but Ben Roethlisberger has the better matchup with better weapons to throw to as well. The Raiders are allowing 312 pass yards per game, 2nd most in the league.

WR – I’m not as jealous as this group as I was your QBs. I feel the most comfortable about Eric Decker against the Jaguars. Ryan Fitzpatrick being a little banged up means he’ll go to his possession option more which is Decker, and he has scored in 5 of his last 6 games. Then I go with Stefon Diggs despite facing a tough Rams defense. Diggs has earned the starting spot as the Vikings downfield playmaker. Not only do I hate Hilton’s matchup and quarterback (at the moment), the MRI he had on his foot and missing some practice doesn’t give me much optimism.

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Time for the “Reverse Rivers”…which isn’t as suggestive as you think, ya sicko!

Philip Rivers is going to throw a ton on Monday Night Football with the San Diego run game being weak and the Bears only giving up 2 rushing touchdowns all weekend. He’ll be without Allen, but he has to chuck it out of necessity. In games that Rivers has thrown at least 37 passes, he averages 381 yards and 2.4 touchdowns. The gameplan for the Bengals tonight should be very run oriented anyway as the Browns are giving up more rush yards than anyone in the league.

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Does Los Angeles count since they’ll be receiving the Rams soon?

I really wanted to pull the Lee Corso “Not so fast, my friend!” but I can’t, in my heart of hearts. Tavon Austin is the one decent option if your league counts return yards and you need a spots start out of someone. Austin has 6 total touchdowns with 2 coming on the rush, and 141 yards running too.

But Todd Gurley is the only viable option out of St. Louis and in a big big way…

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WR – Neither option is great and they are both going against incredible pass defenses, but I lean toward James Jones simply for the Aaron Rodgers factor.

QB – Big Ben for the reasons I listed above.

…and Todd Gurley is the realness. He’s the best running back in the league right now and if he stays healthy, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend!