By at least one bottom-line measurable, Sunday night’s Broncos at Patriots game — better advertised as Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady — is the most accomplished quarterback duel in NFL history.
No prior matchup has featured as many as this one’s 306 combined QB victories, with Manning bringing 163 and Brady 143. The old mark was 295 composite wins when John Elway (148) and one Dan Marino (147) met on Dec. 21, 1998.
With due respect to Drew Brees and to Aaron Rodgers, Manning and Brady are the active QBs jockeying for the very top of the marquee.
“Their consistency each and every week — that is what separates them,” says Marino, now of CBS.
NBC’s Cris Collinsworth rightly calls this “one of those games that you treasure because you know the end of this string is coming.”
Comparing Manning, 37, and Brady, 36, reminds me of the old Marino vs. Joe Montana bar fight, with Manning as Marino (stats) and Brady as Montana (rings).
The case for Manning: Slightly better in most statistical averages, including completion percent (65.4 to 63.4), yards per game and attempt (269.5/7.7 to 253.3/7.5), TD percentage (5.7 to 5.5) and passer rating (96.8 to 95.8). Manning also has more league MVP awards (4-2) and Pro Bowls (12-8).
The case for Brady: A 17-7 playoff record to Manning’s 9-11, and three Super Bowl championships to Manning’s one. Brady also has a superior overall career winning percentage (.773 to .697), a lower interception percentage (2.1 to 2.6) and more wins in head-to-head matchups (9-4).
The choice is the best steak you’ve ever had vs. the best lobster dinner.
The choice is what makes Sunday night look like maybe the most delicious game of the season so far.
• Updated playoff likelihood entering Week 12, via makenflplayoffs.com: AFC — Chiefs 99.5%, Broncos 99.3, Colts 97.1, Patriots 88.0, Bengals 81.3 and Dolphins 28.9. NFC — Seahawks 99.8, Saints 95.2, Panthers 81.1, Lions 57.6, Eagles 53.7 and Cowboys 47.2. (Twenty-three of 32 teams are on or within one game of playoff pace)
• The faceless, starless nature of the Dolphins is being reflected in early Pro Bowl voting. The only two players running in the top 10 at their position are punter Brandon Fields (third) and center Mike Pouncey (fourth).
• Jimmy Johnson, Tony Dungy, Paul Tagliabue, Marvin Harrison and Jerome Bettis are among 25 who made the cut from 126 in consideration for the 2014 Hall of Fame class. No ex-Dolphins or ex-Canes players on the list.
• The Broncos and Chiefs — should both win Sunday — would be first teams from same division to be 10-1 since the Chicago Cardinals and Chicago Bears in 1948.
• Colts’ Andrew Luck needs average only 186 passing yards in final six games to break Cam Newton’s league mark for most (7,920) in one’ first two seasons.
• With Arizona 6-4, Bruce Arians is the first Cardinals first-year coach with a winning record after 10 games since the improbably named Charley Winner in 1966.
• Raiders’ Matt McGloin last week became first undrafted rookie QB in the common draft era (since 1967) to have a game with three TD passes and zero picks.
• Lion Matthew Stafford reached 100 career TD passes in his 55th game, the fourth fewest. The record fewest (44) could be the Marino record built to last.
• Viking Adrian Peterson has 9,700 rushing yards in 99 career games. The only men with more in their first 100: Eric Dickerson, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders.
• Redskins LB London Fletcher became only fourth man to play in 250 consecutive games, after punter Jeff Feagles (352), QB Brett Favre (299) and DE Jim Marshall (282). Fletcher’s 209th consecutive start beat Derrick Brooks’ record for a LB. Fletcher, by the way, was an undrafted free agent out of Division III John Carroll University, also the alma mater of Don Shula.