NFL fans should say a hearty "Thank you" to the football gods tonight, for they have decided that we've all been good enough to earn another edition of Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. Obviously fans of the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers might be harboring feelings that are more bitter than they are giddy, yet football is a sport, and there has to be both a winner and loser.
Sunday's AFC Championship Game in Denver will be the 15th time that the two future Hall of Famers will face each other and the third time since Manning has been the quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
The last time the two played each other was in Week 12 of this season, when Brady's New England Patriots overcame a 24-point halftime deficit to triumph over the Broncos 34-31.
Brady, the face of the Patriots for the past 13 years, may be scared of one Manning brother, yet it's not Peyton. While New York Giants quarterback and younger brother to Peyton Eli Manning has beaten Brady's Patriots in two Super Bowls, Peyton has only topped the Patriots four times in a total of 14 meetings, with all four of those wins coming when he was the quarterback of the Colts.
Obviously, football is a team sport, and all blame cannot be placed on Manning for these losses just like all credit cannot be given to Brady for his wins.
Behind the numbers, it's revealed that while Brady has walked away with far more wins, neither signal-caller has a clear advantage when it comes to performance.
|Manning vs. Brady - Key Statistics (In Matchups vs. Each Other)|
|Wins||Passing YPG||Completion %||TDs||Ints||Team PPG|
While Manning has passed for more yards and touchdowns, Brady has been more accurate and efficient with his passes, boasting a higher completion percentage and six fewer interceptions.
Is it this ball security that's been able to procure Brady's Patriots 5.3 more points per game than Manning's teams?
It's likely a contributing factor, yet it doesn't tell the whole story.
Nine of the 14 games played between the two have been in Foxborough, Mass., where Brady is 7-2 against Manning-led teams. On the road, Brady has won three of the five matchups. This is still an advantage, yet it's clear that Brady is much more comfortable on his home turf.
An Achilles' heel for Manning throughout his whole career has been playing in cold conditions.
As a Colt, Manning had the luxury of playing at least eight games per season in a climate-controlled dome. People adapt to their surrounding environments, and Manning is no exception.
When the Patriots came back to beat the Broncos this season, it was 21 degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff with the wind chill making it feel like four degrees. Predictably, Manning performed poorly, completing only 19 of his 36 pass attempts for 150 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
On Sunday, the Broncos should be very excited and grateful that the AFC Championship is played earlier in the day, right in the middle of the afternoon. Meteorologists are calling for mostly sunny skies and a high of 55 degrees when the Broncos and Patriots kick off around 3 p.m. ET. It won't be quite as balmy as the inside of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, but Manning will surely take it, along with the home-field advantage.