Tom Brady Vs. Peyton Manning: Same Rivalry, New Look

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IJune 9, 2009

The rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning has long come down to the age-old debate of which is more important: statistical production or championships.

Tom Brady holds the lead by a wide margin in championships, with three Super Bowl rings and two Super Bowl MVPs to compare against Peyton Manning's one for each.

Overall, Peyton Manning has better statistics over his career than Tom Brady and has three MVP awards to his name compared to Brady’s lone 2007 MVP.

As is well documented, Manning is the record holder for the best passer rating in a single season (121.1), and Brady is the record holder for the most touchdown passes in a season (50). How ironic that both of their best statistical seasons, the seasons in which each individual set those records, came in their seventh full season as a starter?

Before we go into the outlook for this season, here’s another tidbit of very interesting history between the two.

This is how their first seven seasons as starters matched up overall:

Tom Brady–26,364 yards; 197 touchdowns; 86 interceptions.

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Peyton Manning–29,442 yards; 216 touchdowns; 120 interceptions.

Peyton Manning wins the yardage debate by a landslide. He also gets touchdowns by 19, but leads by a gross margin in interceptions.

Here’s how they compare in their regular season and postseason head-to-head contests.

Tom Brady–205/314, 65.3-percent completion, 2,275 yards, 17 touchdowns, 11 interceptions.

Peyton Manning–228/381, 59.8-percent completion, 2,761 yards, 16 touchdowns, 23 interceptions.

Once again, Manning leads in yardage with 500 more yards in their contests than his rival. Although they don't play against each other on the field, this is a good measure for how they do in high-pressure situations.

As for Manning's lower completion percentage and much higher number of interceptions, his supporters and fans would claim that he’s been up against a stifling defense every time he’s played the Patriots, whereas Brady has had the luxury of picking apart Indianapolis’ low-ranked defenses.

What makes this rivalry so great is that all these numbers get thrown out the window at the start of every season, and both quarterbacks go right back to work. This season, their rivalry has a much different feel to it than it has in the past.

For a long time, the remark has been made that Tom Brady has done more with less; his three championships came without stand-out Pro Bowl wide receivers—the deadly weapons that have always been at Manning’s side.

This year, though, the roles seem to be reversed. Brady has a plethora of offensive talent, even more than in the 2007 undefeated regular season. While Manning has a few weapons, they're not nearly the stacked offense he had at his disposal in his record-setting 2004 season.

It’s clear that both have their respective bumps in the roads, and must overcome them in order to perform up to their extremely high standards next year.

Oddest of all, though, is that both of the franchise quarterbacks are facing nearly the same set of situations. Both are recently recovered from knee surgery, and both are under a new offensive coordinator.

After being a statistical anomaly yet again last season, was Manning exposed yet again by the Chargers in the playoffs? How will the offense fair with the departures of so many key personnel, including head coach Tony Dungy and offensive coordinator Tom Moore?

Tom Brady lost a coordinator, too, in Josh McDaniels. What about his knee, though? Will he recover smoothly, or will it hinder him when he puts the pads on? Perhaps, could we see some rust from the veteran who hasn’t played a meaningful snap or even practiced in almost a year?

So why, then, does this year’s Brady-Manning rivalry carry a different tune?

The reason is because both may not be titans all year long as usual. It wouldn’t surprise me if one or both of them comes out of the gate stumbling a little bit, and who can blame them? As complex as the position of quarterback already is, any of these factors added into the mix could make matters worrisome.

It appears as though Tom Brady is set up better for success, though, as he still has most of his coordinators less McDaniels, including the Jedi Master, Bill Belichick. Some even believe that the Patriots are more stacked on offense than they were in that record-setting 2007 season.

Peyton Manning has already been verbal about communication issues between himself and the front office/coaching staff, but has since begun to reestablish that connection.

The loss of Marvin Harrison as well as the uncertainty caused by coaching casualties could lead to Peyton Manning's fifth consecutive season with a decline in his passer rating since the aforementioned record-setting season.

Who will have the better record? Who will put up better stats? Who will make the playoffs, or even make the Super Bowl? All this remains to be seen, but this matchup will definitely hold the intrigue of the sports world even more than it has in the past.

When it comes to these two, we've come to expect nothing less than an interesting and exciting season.

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