It's unfortunate, but the eternal argument is now over: Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning.
The question of "who is better: Peyton Manning or Tom Brady" has been one the most over analyzed sports topics in America throughout the past decade. Yet with another early playoff exit for Manning this season, the truth is that the conversation is over. Brady has been to five Super Bowls—winning three of them—and is currently one win away from returning to the title game once again this season.
Truthfully, Peyton has his brother to thank for keeping the competition so close up until this point, with Eli's two Super Bowl victories coming at Brady's expense. Had Brady won those two contests, this argument would have been over even sooner.
With that in mind, let's turn to a topic that is a bit more...fraternal.
If you were given one season to win a Super Bowl, who would you want under center for your team: Peyton or Eli?
As time goes on, I think you'll find more people that agree that if you want to win it all, the little Manning would be the better choice.
Eli Manning has been in the league for nine seasons, and has brought the Lombardi Trophy back to New York twice during that span. He's shown an incredible knack for having his biggest performances in the biggest games, racking up impressive comebacks and huge road wins in the playoffs that have resulted in an impressive 8-3 career postseason record. Cap that off with the fact that his two Super Bowl wins were against Brady's Patriots, and Eli's postseason accomplishments far outshine those of Peyton.
The elder Manning's playoff problems have been well documented. His loss to the Ravens this season saddles him with a 9-11 career postseason mark, including eight seasons in which he lost his first game in the playoffs. His one Super Bowl victory, a win over the Bears in 2006, failed to exorcise his playoff demons, with his Indianapolis Colts succeeding almost in spite of him (during that championship run, Peyton threw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns). Toss in Eli's ability to thrive in the cold weather and the choice becomes even more clear.
But that is the easy part of the argument.
Peyton Manning has been an extraordinary quarterback during the regular season. In his 14 seasons, he has averaged 11 wins per year, despite a rookie season in which he won only three games. Only twice did he fail to make the playoffs while dominating the AFC South as a member of the Indianapolis Colts for a dozen years.
He has also thrown 436 touchdowns in his career, and if his neck allows him to, he will own every statistical career record before he hangs up his spikes. Aside from last season, his durability has been excellent, and he looks like he is still going strong. He completed a league best 68.6 percent of his passes this season while throwing for just under 4,700 yards. He has been, and still is, a remarkable quarterback.
But how far behind is Eli?
For the sake of comparing the meaningful parts of their careers, let's discard both of their atrocious rookie campaigns and focus on the following eight seasons in their respective careers.
Peyton won 88 games during that span, while Eli won 77, which is a difference of about a game and a half per season. Peyton threw for an impressive 33,847 yards during this time, and Eli also topped 30,000 in eight seasons, just 3,000 yards behind his older brother. The total difference averages out to just over 420 yards per season, or 26 yards per game, which is hardly a deal breaker.
Over the same period, the elder Manning threw for 249 touchdowns. This is the biggest disparity between the two, with Eli only tossing 205 scoring passes during this span. Eli also threw 135 interceptions to Peyton's 111, a difference of three picks per year. Not to be discounted is Eli's maddening inconsistency in regular season play, where he seems to encounter stretches of poor throws and even worse decision making.
However, Eli's shortcomings in the regular season, at least in comparison to his brother, are not enough to offset his superior playoff performances. He has still led the Giants to the postseason an impressive five times, and has produced five game-winning drives during those postseason campaigns.
But, numbers aside, after watching Peyton fail once more, is it even possible to imagine him escaping a sack and throwing that pass to David Tyree in 2007? Could you even dream of Peyton stepping up and dropping in that pass to Mario Manningham on the sidelines from last year's Super Bowl?
If you are satisfied with a 12-4 team every year that will fizzle in the playoffs, take Peyton. But if it's championships that you want, Eli is the better Manning of choice.