It seems the entire country is debating Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning as they gear up for Sunday's AFC championship game in Denver. So why not have the two main sports columnists at the News weigh in on the subject? In Sunday's paper, Bucky Gleason and I will take sides in the matter.
As you might imagine, I will take Brady's side. I've been saying for years (since he won his third Super Bowl in 2005) that Brady is the best quarterback of all time. For me, the debate is Brady vs. Joe Montana, not Brady vs. Manning.
Of course, it would have been an easier case to make if Brady had won another Super Bowl. He has yet to win a fourth -- though he has made it two more times and has the highest regular-season winning percentage of any QB in the Super Bowl era. Sunday will be an amazing eighth AFC title game in 13 years for Brady -- 8 of 12 if you discount 2008, when he missed virtually an entire season.
Manning's supporters have a bushel of statistics to make their case -- topped off by a record-setting 55 TDs this year for the Broncos. There are plenty of raw facts to back up Brady, starting with his 18-7 record in the postseason.
But you don't hear much about the fact that Manning has played in more favorable conditions over his career. He doesn't like it when people say he can't play in the cold. It's true that he has struggled at times in freezing weather. But the greater point is that he hasn't played that much in tough conditions. He played in a dome in Indianapolis and played a lot of road games in the South after the Colts moved from the AFC East to the AFC South.
I guess it's a somewhat exotic argument, but if people are going to use stats, anything goes. I find it interesting that Manning has such poor overall numbers on the road against the three northeastern teams in his old division, the AFC East:
In six career games in Buffalo, Manning has averaged 173 yards passing and 6.0 yards a pass. He has thrown 4 TDs and 4 interceptions. In 11 career games in Foxborough, counting playoffs, Manning has thrown 19 TD passes and 22 interceptions. In five games at the Jets, he has completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 223 yards a game, with 5 TDs and 9 picks.
So in 22 road games at Buffalo, New England and the Jets, Manning has 28 TD passes and 35 interceptions. I'm guessing he was happy to leave the division in 2002. Playing a game a year in Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville has been a lot kinder to his numbers.