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Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers: Why Brady Is Still the NFL's Best QB

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 11: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots passes against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on December 11, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Avi Wolfman-ArentCorrespondent IIDecember 19, 2011

If I had my pick of NFL quarterbacks, I’d take Tom Brady.

Why the stark statement? Why the blunt posturing?

Because there’s a rising swell of opinion that says Aaron Rodgers is the best signal-caller in the league, and it’s blasphemy. It cannot and will not stand.

The generous temporal intervals of a football season tend to distort our perception of quality. Four good games is a good month. Ten good games is a good year.

With those parameters, flashes in the pan feel more substantial and goodness gets misconstrued as greatness. Flavors of the month rise fast and fall faster, aided by condensed sample sizes that demand snap judgments.

So much time passes between games that we’re fooled into thinking a few good games is proof of something more than a few good games.

That’s why I like to think big picture when evaluating NFL quarterbacks. And while Rodgers has been better than Brady this year, placing them side-by-side in a larger sample size changes the outcomes.

Here’s how the two stack up since 2008, when Rodgers first became the Packers' starting quarterback:

Rodgers has the better QB rating, 104.6 to 103.9
Rodgers has more passing yards per game, 275.3 to 274.9
Brady has been more accurate, 65.9 percent to 65.7 percent completion rates
Brady has more touchdown passes per game, 2.11 to 2.08
Brady has fewer interceptions per game, 0.61 to 0.62

It’s remarkable how similar they’ve been statistically, and if I had to push on those numbers alone, I’d push toward Rodgers. Bottom line, they’ve both played quarterback just about as well as it’s ever been played for four years running.

But here’s where Brady separates himself. Since 2008, Brady’s winning percentage is 76.6 percent; Rodgers’ is just 65.6 percent.

And here’s the kicker, over that same period of time, Brady’s defenses have allowed 344.4 yards per game while Rodgers’ gave up a mere 322.2.

Brady’s done more with less, leading some of the league’s worst defenses to some of the league’s best records.

Those last two statistics are the only two long-exposure numbers that demonstrate any appreciable difference between Brady and Rodgers. When talking about two superior players, it’s the minutiae that count.

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