Broncos vs. Patriots: Defense Will Decide Latest Brady vs. Manning Matchup

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIOctober 6, 2012

Nov 21, 2010; Foxboro, MA, USA;  Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) shakes hands with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) following the game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Colts 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two of the most well-known and accomplished quarterbacks of this era. They’ve met in classic matchup after classic matchup.

Brady holds an 8-4 head-to-head lead over the former Indianapolis Colts star quarterback.

Manning, though, missed all of 2011 due to a neck surgery that the then 35-year-old just couldn’t recover from.

Now he’s the commander of the Denver Broncos offense. In Denver, they’ve put together a pretty potent attack and added Manning to pull the strings and guide them to new heights.

To this point of the season, it’s been working just as they planned, despite the 2-2 record they have to show for it.

Manning has thrown eight touchdowns to three interceptions and is averaging 278 yards per game. That’s good enough for ninth in the NFL. Not bad for a guy who turned 36 in March and missed all of 2011 with that injury.

He’s also fallen just short of leading two late-game comebacks against the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons—the NFL’s only undefeated teams through four weeks.

Now, there’s no denying the offensive potency of either of these teams. Both are in the Top 10 in the NFL in passing and both have proven to be able to run the ball effectively.

We all know the talents that both of these great quarterbacks bring to the table. There’s no doubt that both of them will be able to put up points in bunches, no matter which defense is lining up against them.

That’s why the latest installment in this rivalry is going to come down to the two defenses.

In a shootout, which is what this will most likely turn into, the Broncos have a slight edge because of the weakness in the Patriots’ secondary.

New England is doing a good job at bottling up the run and that will test Manning’s resolve and ability to operate with the play-action. However, they've been susceptible to the big play and that's something Manning and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas are going to exploit.

Manning has the edge because he has the better defense behind him. It will be up to him to make plays when given the chance, but his defense is going to keep the game close and keep the Patriots out of the end zone when it needs to the most.

This year is as good as it’s going to get for Manning if he hopes to return to the Super Bowl and gain some ground in the ring column against Brady. He’s 36 and has all of the weapons around him he needs to succeed.

Beating the Pats in Week 5 at Foxborough would be a huge motivator for Manning and these Broncos and will only happen with a big performance by their emerging defense.



Mike Hoag Jr. is a Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report and also covers the NFL and the Cleveland Browns for the site.