Both have dings and warranties that expired around the turn of the decade, but there is still no better NFL theatre than Tom Brady going against Peyton Manning. The Bird and Magic of their era go at it again in Foxboro Sunday night.
Perhaps juiced by their 31-point fourth quarter against the Bills Sunday, the Patriots are solid touchdown favorites (51.5) in Week 5. But Manning appears to have gotten back his mojo just in time for the battle at Gillette.
Losses to powerhouses Atlanta and Houston are in the rear view mirror after the Broncos spanked the Raiders and Manning finally had a Manning-like game: 30 for 38, 338 yards, zero INTs.
“That line seems about right,” says Covers Expert Sean Murphy. “The Broncos, and Peyton Manning in particular, will continue to get better, but the Patriots have reason to stay motivated after a slow start to the season, and Sunday's huge second half against the Bills could really serve to get the ball rolling. Tough spot for the Broncos coming off a blowout win inside their own division. Peyton will undoubtedly be up for this one, but I’m still not sold on his arm against an underrated Patriots defense.”
Denver and New England are both 2-2 SU, both beating bad teams and losing to good ones. The Patriots are 3-1 ATS (Pats got a cover in the loss to Baltimore) while the Broncos are 2-2 ATS. Both are 2-2 O/U.
Brady-backers in games against Manning teams haven’t had much success of late. While New England dominated early games against Manning, since 2005 New England is 0-5-1 ATS when Brady and Manning have gone up against each other.
Comparisons don’t end there.
Manning has had more than his share of trouble winning at Gillette (for a while Ty Law was his daddy), and it seemed for a long stretch that Brady could beat everyone except the (pre-Manning) Broncos. Both have MVP awards (Manning 3, Brady 2), both have Super Bowl rings (Brady 3, Manning 1), both have won Super Bowl MVP awards. When Manning broke the NFL record for TD passes with 49, the Patriots brought in Randy Moss and Brady threw for 50 a few years later.
Since then, both have lost full seasons to injury and have battled their way back. That Manning is returning to the league in different laundry won’t matter much to fans in Foxboro, who always viewed him as more of a Super Bowl obstacle than the Colts teams he led.
Manning is 36 years old, Brady 35. As far as we know, neither is even considering retirement. Still, it’s probably a good idea to enjoy this one as much as we can.
No guarantees what the future holds. Just ask Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.