I hoped, I dreamed, I prayed for a chance to see Tom Brady and Peyton Manning duke it out with a chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
I guess I owe the football gods a cold one, because they did not disappoint.
When you think about the landscape of the NFL over the last 15 years, these two quarterbacks have transcended the sport.
Peyton Manning is arguably the greatest regular season player in the history of the NFL. His brilliant control of an NFL offense at the line of scrimmage and the new age “no-huddle offense” revolutionized the position.
How about these credentials? Manning has won five MVP’s, he’s made the Pro Bowl 14 times, and yes, he’s the all-time leader in career touchdown passes and passing yards.
However, if there’s a knock on Peyton Manning, it’s his inability to win in the postseason in the way that his counterpart Tom Brady has won in the postseason.
Tom Brady’s regular season numbers are outstanding, but they’re not as good as Manning’s.
What separates Brady from Manning and almost every other quarterback in the history of the sport not named Joe Montana is his ability to win in the postseason and perform at a high level when the games matter the most.
Brady has won four Super Bowls, he’s been to six, and he has three Super Bowl MVP’s in his trophy case.
All you need to know about Tom Brady is all he likes to do is win.
Sunday will be his 10th appearance in the AFC Championship Game in 15 seasons. He’s trying to become the first quarterback to ever win five Super Bowls.
The debate between these two players has been one of the most entertaining sports arguments you could ever have.
It’s right up there with Ali-Frazier, Bird-Magic or Williams-DiMaggio. Take your pick.
You can’t go wrong either way when it comes to picking one of these quarterbacks, but I can almost guarantee that the Brady-Manning debate has taken over some watering hole, classroom or office over the last few years.
The debates have only been enhanced considering how much history there is between both players head-to-head.
Sunday will mark the 17th time that Brady and Manning will go against each other. The overall record favors Brady significantly.
He’s 11-5 in his career against Manning and a lot of that success stems from the early portion of their careers respectively.
Manning was 0-6 including two losses to Brady and the Patriots in the postseason before he won his first game against the Patriots in 2005.
Since then, Manning is 6-5 for his career against Brady, including two wins in the AFC Championship Game.
The rivalry between these two has delivered so many signature moments, but the idea of Manning not being able to get over Brady and the Patriots haunted him until 2007.
Manning was down 21-3 to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game before rallying his team to a 38-34 victory.
That AFC Championship Game was the most important wins in Peyton Manning’s career.
Why? The victory was the hurdle Manning simply needed to overcome. Sure enough, the year he finally beat the Patriots in the postseason was the same year he won his only Super Bowl.
When it comes to the postseason, these two quarterbacks are dead even against each other; 2-2 with Sunday’s game possibly being the rubber match and the last time we ever see Manning and Brady compete against each other.
It’s no secret that this should be Peyton Manning’s last year as an NFL quarterback. Unlike Tom Brady, he’s no longer at the top of his game.
Brady this season performed to an MVP-caliber level. On the other hand, Manning delivered the worst statistical year of his career and missed time due to a variety of injuries.
The advantage on Sunday hand’s down is in the corner of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
However, home field advantage and arguably the best defense in all of football resides with Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
It’s an AFC Championship game that has it all, and if it’s the last time you ever see Brady vs. Manning, be sure to cherish it.
One last time…
JJ’s Championship Game Unlocks
(Season Record: 40-46-3)
• New England -3
• Arizona +3