Why 2012 Season Proved Peyton Manning Is Better Than Tom Brady

Alex H@Alexhoegler27Correspondent IMarch 2, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 07:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos greet each other at midfield following the game on October 7, 2012 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The debate between future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning has been a popular one since the rivalry started in 2001.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has three rings compared to Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s one. I guess this means Brady is better, and will retire as the superior quarterback, right?

Not so fast.

If you love football, you know the rings argument won’t work; it’s an invalid argument.

If you think that, then is Trent Dilfer (who?) better than Dan Marino? Is Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch better than Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers? I hope no one thinks that.

These two are the best quarterbacks of their generation, without a doubt. They have entertained the NFL and its fans with countless incredible moments, so it’s fitting that a debate would ensue: “Who is the better quarterback?”

Lucky for NFL fans, the answer was found at the conclusion of the 2012 season: Peyton Manning.

Peyton Manning has won four MVP’s to Brady’s two. Brady has had a superior supporting cast for the last few seasons, Manning also had a better 2012 season. Via ESPN.com:


16    400  583     68.6 4,659 7.99 37    71  11      2  84.1 105.8


 16   401 637      63.0 4,827 7.58 34    83    8       1 77.1 98.7

Brady had ONE more completion and 168 more passing yards on 54 more attempts. In other words, he had way more attempts and barely finished higher in that category.

Brady and Manning both play in weak divisions, there is no denying that. However, the San Diego Chargers boast far more talent than the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills. Brady's been beating up on a terrible AFC East for his entire career. Imagine what Peyton Manning could do with that luxury.

The Broncos beat the Ravens, who won the Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Bengals, and Manning shredded the Steelers in Week 1. Yes, they missed the playoffs, but Pittsburgh had the top-ranked defense.

The Patriots beat the Texans, Broncos and Colts. But guess what? All of those were home games. The Texans completely crumbled down the stretch, while the Broncos were still lacking chemistry with Manning at the time. Had that game taken place midseason, the Patriots would have probably lost.

Brady also had a poor defense, but they still managed to help him out a lot by forcing turnovers that set him up in good field position. Manning had the second ranked defense with him all season, but they did not force turnovers the way New England did.

Both quarterbacks benefited from excellent, top-tier offensive lines. However, Tom Brady had plenty of more support from his running backs. The Patriots boasted the 7th-ranked rushing offense, while the Broncos were a mediocre 16th-ranked.  As a result, Brady had a lot of pressure taken off of him. The rushing game helped the Patriots beat the Jets in week 11 and the Dolphins in week 13 to bail out Brady. The Broncos needed Manning’s arm for all 13 of their wins.

Tom Brady was also blessed with the most loaded weapons on offense. He had an elite receiver in Wes Welker—I don’t need to explain how talented the guy is. He had a deep threat in Brandon Lloyd, who was his go-to receiver, and had two of football’s top tight ends—Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

For one thing, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are two very good receivers, but who were these guys before Manning joined Denver? (via NFL.com)


Season Team   Receiving Rushing Fumbles
  G GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
2012 Denver Broncos 16 15 85 1,064 12.5 55 13 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2011 Denver Broncos 16 13 44 612 13.9 56T 8 1 1 1.0 1 0 1 1


Receiving Rushing Fumbles
  G GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
2012 Denver Broncos 16 16 94 1,434 15.3 71T 10 -- -- -- -- -- 3 3
2011 Denver Broncos 11 5 32 551 17.2 47 4 1 5 5.0 5 0 -- --

If you’re going to compare Joel Dreesen and Jacob Tamme to the Patriots’ tight ends, then you obviously don't follow football enough. There’s no comparison.

Despite all of Brady’s advantages, Peyton Manning turned in a better yearand that was coming off of four neck surgeries in his mid-30′s.

Tom Brady is credited with all of the Patriots success during their dynasty years. Are you calling Bill Belichick a bad coach? Was his offensive line terrible? Did his defense not bail him out all those years? Is Adam Vinatieri a choke artist?

No, in fact Vinatieri was the difference maker in all three of the Pats Super Bowl titlesand many of those playoff games too.

Peyton Manning had Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Marvin Harrison—but defense wins championships more than offense does it’s a proven fact (see 2005/08 Steelers for example). Now that Manning was finally blessed with an elite defense, he did plenty of damage. 

Also remember that the Broncos put up 35 points in the Divisional round against the Ravens despite the loss, while the Patriots put up 13. Manning would have been in the AFC Championship if it weren't for his defense letting him down, while Brady couldn't help out his defense that made some big stops in the first half that he could have used to his advantage and put away the game early.

Keep in mind that NFL Network ranked Peyton Manning as the eighth-greatest player of all time, while Brady was ranked 20th.

The debate will go on and on, but it’s all but over. Peyton Manning has secured a spot above Tom Brady on the NFL’s all-time greatest quarterbacks list.