Manning versus Brady, v. 2005

Ask whether Peyton Manning or Tom Brady is the better quarterback and you'd better have time for a lengthy discussion. So ColtPower asked the question that really matters: "What have you done for me lately?"

One has two NFL MVP trophies. The other has two Super Bowl MVP awards and three Super Bowl rings. The debate has raged on for the past few seasons. Who's better? Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning or New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?

Well, perhaps think the most important question to pose heading into Monday night's game in Foxboro is "What have you done for me lately?" Because what these two quarterbacks are doing in the here and now will be more important in determining which one of them with emerge with a win. Here's how the two star quarterbacks compare in key categories over the first seven games of 2005 as we present Manning versus Brady, version 2005.

Completion percentage
Brady's having the second-best season of his career in this area with a 63.1 percent completion average. But that's five full percentage points lower than Manning's 68.1 percent, best of his career for a season. And get this, Manning has completed only less than 74% of his passes in one of his last five games. Brady's hit that level of performance in two of the past five. Advantage: Manning

Yards per attempt
Brady is having more success this season going downfield than Manning. He's completed 29 passes of 20+ yards and 6 of 40+ yards while Manning has been forced to hit more underneath routes due to 7 and 8- man coverage schemes he faced earlier in the season. The Colts' signal-caller has 16 passes of 20+ yards and just one of 40+ yards. As a result, Brady boasts a healthy and career-best 8.11 yards per attempt versus Manning's 7.60 -- fairly typical for his career but well below the incredible 9.17 of a year ago. Brady has also posted the best single game of the two so far this year in this category when he went 22-27 against the Falcons with 13.0 yards per attempt. He has three games at 300 yards or better, and a fourth at 299. Manning's high was 264 in week four against the Titans. Advantage: Brady

Touchdown passes
Manning isn't tearing up the league at a record-setting pace like he did last year, but his 11 is slightly better than Brady's 9 over the first seven games. And he has a 9 to 6 edge over the last four games. Brady has just one touchdown pass in each of his last two games. Advantage: Manning

Brady has just one less interception than Manning (4 versus 5), but he's fumbled it away twice compared to just once by Manning. So overall they are each giving the ball away almost once per game (6 times in 7 games). Advantage: Draw

QB Rating
How do you follow up a 121.1 rating like Manning posted last year? With a 98.3 rating that is currently the third-best of his career. But don't overlook that Manning has notched ratings over 105 or better in three of his last four games. Brady is sitting at 93.8, and has two of his last four at 113 or better. Advantage: Manning

Some might wonder if this is a fair category to include since the offensive line can be responsible for the pressure. Good point, but it's the quarterback's job to have the pocket presence to get rid of the ball or run for his life rather than end up on the ground for a loss. Up until the last three weeks, Manning didn't take a single sack. Now he has five over the past three games. Brady's failed to avoid the sack at twice that rate, including 3 times last week against Buffalo to drive his total to ten. The Patriots have two rookies starting on the left side of their offensive line, so don't be surprised to see that gap widen even more after Monday night. Advantage: Manning

Third-Down Completion Percentage
Third-down is clutch time. The moment your team needs you to move those chains. Brady's worst down this year is third-down, completing just 47 percent of his passes compared to 66 - 70 percent the first two downs. It's also Manning's worst down, but he's still completing 64% of his third-down passes versus 68 - 71 percent on earlier downs -- no where near the dropoff in performance that Brady's experienced. With Brady sure to face a heavy pass rush on third downs and Manning facing a suspect secondary on his third down situations, this could be a key factor in Monday night's game. Advantage: Manning

Fourth Quarter Performance
Another key time of the game that separates the men from the boys. This one is no contest so far in 2005. Manning wins handily in this comparison. In the fourth quarter Brady is completing 64.5 percent of his passes but has just one touchdown and a QB rating of 86.2. He only has a lower rating in the second quarter (69.7). Manning has a mind-blowing 140.2 rating in the fourth while completing 81 percent of his passes.  His slow quarter is also the second, but even that one is better than Brady's with a 74.9. Advantage: Manning

Toss out the one category that was a draw and the Colts quarterback is clearly the winner in Manning versus Brady v. 2005 -- at least through the first seven games. He holds the edge in six of seven categories so far. And in addition to that lopsided outcome, here are two trends that take into account how the quarterbacks are playing at home and on the road to see if either one is likely to gain an edge in that situation this week. While you would think that the home quarterback would have an edge, it's just not the case so far in 2005.

  • Heading into game eight at Foxboro, Manning has thrown 9 of his 11 touchdown passes on the road and on grass this year. He's also completed 70 percent of his passes during those four road games versus just 65 percent at home. Of course, all of that will be meaningless if you switch on your television and see snow.
  • Brady hasn't seen a boost in his stats when he plays at home. He's completed 63% of his passes at home and away. And he's thrown just 4 of his 9 touchdown passes at home.

Now that we've seen which quarterback should have the best game based on the first seven contests, sit back and enjoy the show.  It's time for yet another Manning versus Brady showdown that will fuel the fires of the debate until the next time they meet -- no matter how the night plays out.

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