New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning are widely regarded as the best at their position in today's NFL. The two of them are first ballot Hall of Famers and many fans regard either of them as the best to ever play the game.
Is Tom Brady the best quarterback of all time? Ask a Patriots fan and they'll tell you he is.
Is Peyton Manning the best quarterback of all time? Ask a Colts fan and they'll tell you he is.
Is this weekend's Patriots vs. Colts game the best quarterback matchup of all time? It doesn't matter who you ask, because the answer is yes. It's a shame they play in the same conference, because a Brady vs Manning Super Bowl would be the greatest single event in sports. Maybe that's just too good to be true.
*Eli doesn't count as "Manning" in this particular instance*
So us fans have to settle for what's coming on Sunday. A stretch run matchup of two of the best teams in the NFL with serious postseason implications on the line in which the NFL's two best QB's try to lead their teams past each other. Not a bad consolation prize.
Never before has the NFL seen a rivalry like this. The two best quarterbacks are only a year apart (Manning is a year older than Brady) and have both been playing at a high level for most of this decade. If one of them doesn't win a Super Bowl, or at least an MVP award, it's usually because the other one does.
To put this weekend's matchup into perspective, let's look back at he only other QB matchup that approaches this one: Montana vs Marino in the Super Bowl.
At the time of their matchup, Marino was coming off his second season as a pro. He had made two straight Pro Bowls, was about to win his first NFL MVP award and was playing in his first Super Bowl.
Montana was coming off his second straight Pro Bowl and was gunning for his second Super Bowl title.
Great matchup to be sure, but both players were in the infancy of their careers. The historical implications of that matchup were unknown when it was being played.
That won't be the case this weekend.
Between the two of them, Brady and Manning have combined for five- count 'em- five NFL MVP awards, and it's looking fairly likely one of them will win it again this season.
They've combined for 15 Pro Bowl appearances and six All-Pro nominations. The two of them currently hold 25 NFL passing records. That's not a typo.
The two of them have won 23 playoff games and appeared in 36, including six Super Bowls. They have four NFL Championships between them and are poised to make a run at another one this season.
Tom Brady won his first ever NFL start by beating Manning and the Colts.
Peyton Manning won his first Super Bowl by beating Brady and the Pats to get there.
The NFL has never seen a quarterback rivalry of this magnitude. Soak it in, fans, because it probably never will again.
At least not until they square off in the playoffs.