Peyton Manning-Drew Brees Give Us a Rare, Quality Quarterback Matchup

Nick SouthCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 24:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts under center during the second half against the New York Jets during the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Jets 30-17.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

We can kid ourselves all we want, but the most intriguing part of Super Bowl XLIV isn't the resurgence of the city of New Orleans or the emergence of the Indianapolis Colts' young wide outs.

It's the battle of two of the league's best quarterbacks, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, that make this championship so compelling. And there's a reason for that.

Great quarterback matchups have been a rarity in Super Bowl games.

For every Roger Staubach-Terry Bradshaw pairing, there's a Kerry Collins-Trent Dilfer one to match it.

Many times we've seen one great quarterback square off against a much less talented one. John Elway-Chris Chandler anyone?

The irony of this is that reaching the Super Bowl is the ultimate hallmark of a quarterback's career, yet so many of the league's greatest quarterbacks have found little success in even getting to the big game.

Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, and Warren Moon have fewer Super Bowl appearances than Collins, Dilfer, and David Woodley.

It's proof that football is the ultimate team game. And it shows why we go crazy for a Super Bowl with two quality passers.

In the previous 43 Super Bowls, there have only been a few quarterback tandems that can surpass the potential of the league's 44th championship.

The Bradshaw-Staubach Super Bowls, specifically the second one in Super Bowl XIII, come to mind. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys both had an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball, but the quality at the quarterback position made their games memorable.

Joe Montana facing Dan Marino in Super Bowl XIX is another classic matchup of signal callers. Marino may have only been a second year player, but he was coming off a record setting season. There's a reason they both made the cover of Sports Illustrated leading up to the championship game. Many hoped it would be the first of many Super Bowl games between the two.

The John Elway-Brett Favre duel in Super Bowl XXXII ranks highly as well. The veteran Elway trying to win his first championship garnered a lot of hype. It helped that he was facing the Green Bay Packer youngster gunning for his second consecutive Super Bowl trophy.

After that, though, it gets muddled. The Tom Brady-Kurt Warner matchup in 2001 was nice in retrospect, but at the time, Brady was an unknown.

What the Brees-Manning matchup has is experience. Both are well-respected, quality quarterbacks. Manning has long been considered one of the league's best, if not one of the best all-time. Brees' stock has been on a meteoric rise in recent years thanks to his ability to guide a high scoring Saints' attack.

Defense may win championships, but quarterbacks can drive ratings. The potential of an offensive scoring frenzy raises hopes that this will be a memorable Super Bowl, something we've been spoiled with in recent history after decades of mostly anti-climatic conclusions. The other angles, like the Big Easy's comeback after Hurricane Katrina, just add icing to our cake.

So here's hoping Manning-Brees goes down like an Elway-Favre matchup, not just in hype, but in drama on the field as well.