Tom Brady (Michael Dwyer / AP)

(Updated with Bill Belichick’s comments, report that Brady is ill)

As if the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning matchup in Sunday’s AFC championship game needed any more angles, illness entered the equation Wednesday morning.

Brady missed the New England Patriots’ practice and the quarterback’s scheduled media availability was canceled, too.

But before going to Defcon 1, let’s pause to note this doesn’t appear to be some sort of Belichickian mind game. Brady, according to ESPN Boston, has a “minor illness” and will, of course, play Sunday. After practice, Coach Bill Belichick addressed the media and, as is his wont, was completely open as he went into minute detail about Brady’s whereabouts. … Actually, Belichick refused to divulge anything, saying only that the team would release the injury report later in the day. He did crack a joke and smiled when asked to name the last time Brady surprised him.

“This morning,” he replied.

What did Brady do, he was asked.

“We’ll keep that between Tom and I.”

With Brady out, backup Ryan Mallett took all the snaps — and took all the snaps against the defense, pretending to be Peyton Manning. He said “Omaha” a lot.

Maybe the Patriots and Brady were being superstitious. Brady was present for every practice leading up to last year’s AFC championship game and the Patriots lost to the Baltimore Ravens. The year before, he missed practice the Wednesday before the AFC title game — and the Patriots won.