This Sunday, the Denver Broncos will travel to Foxboro Mass. and head into Gillete Stadium to play a 6-2 New England Patriots. A Patriots team that had a shakey start (per usual) but as of late is seeming to be clicking on all cilinders. 4-0 in the month of October and that quarterback that everyone said was washed up has thrown 14 TD passes with no interceptions.
This isn’t just any early November, middle of the season, AFC matchup. It’s Brady versus Manning. For the 16th time. 16. You look at the overall record and see Brady has a strangle hold 10-5 win-loss record…but two of those loses came at the worst times. Manning’s 2-1 record in the AFC championship game against Brady is what really sticks out. The two loses to Manning in the big game are interesting though. I’d like to see a casual fan of either team name one reciever from the Patriots 2006 and 2013 teams that played in either of those two games. They’ll probably be able to name one, Julian Edelman, a 5′-10″ 200lb slot reciever that played quarterback in college. That was Brady’s best wide out in ’13. I don’t even think he had a best wide out in ’06, Troy Brown at 35 years old? Doesn’t really match up with the core Manning had in ’06 or ’13, Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. Then last year the two Thomas’s, Decker, and then Brady’s old boy Wes Welker. That being said I dont like the AFC championship game record to decide the agruement.
This Sunday’s game will be one of the most even matchups of them all between these two guys. We often forget that these guys actually have never been on the field of play together so it comes down to machups. Yes it’s always gonna come down to how these two actually perform but it still has to do with the defenses they’re going to be lining up against.
For Brady, he and his make-shift offensive line will have their hands full with a squad of defenders that are good at getting the quaterback on the ground. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware have sacked the QB 16 times between the two of them this year and everyone knows that’s the one thing that beats Brady, pressure. You can’t ignore our sloppy seconds in Aqib Talib. He’s one of the better corners in the league but no match for Rob Gronkowski, who I’m not even sure is human at this point. This Denver defense has picked the ball off 7 times, but Tom is throwing the ball well and only has thrown 2 interceptions this season so this secondary could be a good test. If the line can hold up against Miller and Ware and give Brady a decent pocket then this New England core with Gronk, Edelman, and emerging Brandon LaFell, should have its way with the Bronco’s secondary.
For Manning, he has to deal with a Patriots defense that hasn’t been this good (or playing this good) since their ’04 campaign. Yes they lost Jerod Mayo and their only form of pass rush in Chandler Jones, but they just held the leagues best recieving duo to just one touchdown (Alshon Jeffery), without them. That one touchdown coming in garbage time after the Pats had already won the game by 100. Peyton won’t have a walk in the park like he did last Janurary in the AFC title game.
Something about these two guys sharing the field (never literally) brings out a rivalry like no other. There’s no real hate between them but just the fact that they both want to win more than anyone in the world makes everyone else around them play better and thats where all these classic games come from. No this game doesn’t have a ticket to the Super Bowl on the line but what it does have is home field advantage implications for the playoffs (aka is the AFC title game going to be in Denver or Foxboro?). It’s two of the best quarterbacks to ever walk the Earth going up against each other for the 16th time. You can’t take these games for granted anymore with the next scheduled one lined up for 2017. It won’t, but it could be the last Manning and Brady face-off. So come 8pm this Sunday Night dig into your couch and enjoy the greatness.