Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet for the 17th time on Sunday, two future Hall of Famers looking to secure the AFC’s spot in Super Bowl 50.
“There are a lot of players that have played in 16 of those games,” Manning said when asked about facing Brady once again. “As the quarterback it’s always a great honor and privilege to have competed against [Brady] over the course of the past 16, 17 years that he and I have been in the league together.”
According to the game charters at Pro Football Focus, their head-to-head performance has been similar:
Over those seven games the difference in total grades has been just +1.8, with Brady edging it. Brady has yet to post a negatively graded game in one of these encounters, and while Manning has had the bigger games in terms of PFF grade, he’s graded negatively in two of the last three.
Manning, however, has typically had the edge in Total Quarterback Rating (64.4) — ESPN’s metric to value a passer’s ability to win games — ever since it was tracked in 2006.
Brady has the bragging rights — he and the New England Patriots are 11-5 lifetime and have four rings to Manning’s one — but Manning has a chance to go out on top, as this is likely the last meeting between the two.
Brady was solid throughout the season despite a rash of injuries on the offensive side of the ball. He finished with the 11th highest QBR (64.4) and was the fifth most accurate passer (77.7 percent accuracy rate). Plus, Brady saw a minimal decline in his performance when facing a pass rush while improving his rating against the blitz.
The New England Patriots are also getting healthier, and will have their full complement of receivers, including Julian Edelman, who helps speed up the offense.
Brady averaged just 2.13 seconds per passing attempt on Saturday with Edelman in the lineup against the Kansas City Chiefs, much faster than the 2.45 seconds he averaged when Edelman was out. And Brady’s completion percentage spikes from 47.5 to 71 percent when he attempts a throw in 2.5 seconds or less. Manning sees no such benefit: 69.4 rating on throws less than 2.5 seconds in the pocket, 67.3 all other times.
No matter what metric you choose, Manning was a disaster this season. His QBR rating was a career low 45, placing him 28th among the league’s 33 qualified quarterbacks, and the game charters at Pro Football Focus rated him as the league’s worst passer. Only Andrew Luck was less accurate after accounting for dropped passes, throw aways, spiked balls, batted passes, and passes where the quarterback was hit while they threw the ball.
His low point came against the Kansas City Chiefs. He completed 5 of 20 passes for 35 yards — just one of more than 10 yards in the air — with zero touchdowns and four interceptions. Manning was also sacked twice before being benched late in the third quarter in favor of backup Brock Osweiler. It was later revealed that Manning had a sore right foot but you could see the decline in his performance all season long.
This rivalry has featured two of the league’s best passers, but with Manning in decline and Brady’s unit getting healthier by the day, this figures to be a lopsided battle that heavily favors the Patriots.