Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady: Who's the better bet?
It's time for the Conference Championships which feature a pair of blockbuster matchups - but one clearly rises above the other as Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos host Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for a showdown in the AFC Championship.
Manning and Brady will face off for the 15th time - and will do so with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.
Here's a breakdown of the all-time matchup in a special Tale of the Tape:
Straight-up: Brady 10, Manning 4
Brady has dominated the head-to-head record between the future Hall-of-Fame QBs, winning the first six encounters - including the 2003 AFC Championship Game - and going 7-2 at Foxboro Stadium. Manning does have the most significant victory of the series, leading Indianapolis back from an 18-point deficit to prevail 38-34 in the 2006 AFC title game. It's the biggest comeback in conference championship history. Pats kicker Stephen Gostkowski booted a 31-yard field goal in overtime to give the Pats the 34-31 win when the two teams met in Week 12 this season.
ATS: Brady (7-5-2)
This matchup is much closer than the SU history, in part due to a series of closely contested games. Brady kicked off the tete-a-tete with a 5-0-1 ATS record - highlighted by a 44-13 rout of Manning's Indianapolis Colts in Brady's first career start - but Manning covered in each of the next four matchups. The Pats covered as 1-point faves in the Week 12 clash at Foxboro this season.
With two of the best quarterbacks of a generation facing off, points are often scored in bunches - and the Brady-Manning encounters are no exception. The first meeting saw 57 points scored, kicking off a trend that saw the teams combine for greater than 50 points in five of the first seven showdowns. The high-water mark of 72 points was set in New England's 38-34 win in Week 13 of the 2003 season and equaled in the Colts' 38-34 win in the 2006 AFC title game. The teams combined for 65 points in Week 12, which finished Over the closing total of 54.
Passing yards: Manning 3,971, Brady, 3,403
Manning has edged out Brady when it comes to passing yardage, averaging a whopping 283.6 yards per game compared to Brady's mark of 243.1. Manning has a number of big yardage games against the Patriots on his career resume, including a 349-yard performance in the 2006 conference championship and a 326-yard effort in a 27-20 triumph over the Patriots earlier that season. Brady was hurt by a 168-yard showing in their first-ever encounter in 2001.
Touchdowns/interceptions: Manning: 29/20; Brady: 26/12
Known more as a gunslinger than his Patriots counterpart, it should surprise no one that Manning has more touchdowns and interceptions in the all-time series. Manning handed Brady his first victory as a starting quarterback, throwing three interceptions - two of which were run back for scores. He also has a place in history as the first quarterback to throw for four touchdowns against the Bill Belichick-led Patriots in 2003 - albeit in defeat.