Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady Set for Another Epic Duel

This is a rivalry that has dominated the NFL for the past decade.  Both quarterbacks are sure to be in the Hall of Fame and have set and broken each other’s records for several years now.  Although their respective paths to the NFL were nearly polar opposites, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are now going to square off for yet another memorable duel with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.  And with both quarterbacks in the twilight of their careers, this could possibly be the last such matchup with such high stakes at play.  The upcoming AFC Championship could define who gets the last laugh in this famous rivalry!
While Manning was the top pick in the 1998 NFL draft, Brady was picked 199th in 2000, deep within the 6th round.  For such a lowly drafted player to even become a starter is a tremendous achievement, but Brady has become one of the greatest quarterbacks ever!  In many respects, he has had an even better career than Manning.  Brady has won 3 Super Bowls, played in 5, and has an 18-7 playoff record that stands as the best ever.  Manning’s achievements are more about the regular season, where he has won a record 4 NFL MVP awards, though he also has 1 Super Bowl ring from 2 appearances.  However, he is often ridiculed for his poor play in the postseason, and has just a 10-11 record after last week’s success.
Throughout the years, Brady and the New England Patriots have dominated this rivalry, owning a 10-4 all time record over Manning mostly during his time with the Indianapolis Colts.  However, Manning did orchestrate a monumental comeback from down 21-3 to winning the AFC Championship game in 2006 en route to winning his Super Bowl.  But in their matchup early this season it was the Patriots coming from down 24-0 to win over Manning and the Denver Broncos back in November.  These are clearly two players who never give up!
So what should we expect this time around?  Peyton Manning and the Broncos have more talent, evidenced by their record-breaking offense highlighted by Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Eric Decker.  The Patriots meanwhile have been patchwork all season long.  Their two dominant pass-catching tight ends weren’t able to play much.  Aaron Hernandez is headed to prison for murder while Rob Gronkowski only played several game before tearing 2 ligaments in his knee.  They have had to organize the offense around Julian Edelman and Stevan Ridley.  However, their main emphasis of attack centers around their running back LaGarrette Blount.  Brady only threw 25 passes in their last game as Blount ran with power and success.
But with the Broncos offense firing on all cylinders, Brady is likely to have to pass in a game that could easily become a shootout.  Manning clearly has more weapons and talent around him, and he has the full backing of the Denver fans behind him too.  But there’s something about the Patriots.  They are a team that can pick apart an opponent like no other, and they always come to play when the stakes are at their highest.  Head coach Bill Belichick is an absolute genius when it comes to football and I think that the Broncos will get slowed down just enough for the Patriots to win this game.  Blount’s yardage on the ground will keep Manning on the sideline for much of the game and I think Brady will have the last laugh.  Expect the Patriots to be headed to the Super Bowl after winning this one: 28-24.
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