It’s Superman versus the Sheriff.
The young, physical specimen versus the aging, battered savant.
A true showdown for the ages.
And speaking of ages, it happens to be the largest age difference (13 years) between starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. To explain the difference further, Newton was just eight years old when Manning was drafted in 1998.
These two quarterbacks are astronomically different players in multiple aspects whether it’s age, skillset and everything in between. But they also share a few similarities with each other.
This Super Bowl matchup between the two marks the first time ever in the big game that two quarterbacks drafted number one overall have played against each other with Manning being the selection in 1998 and Newton in 2011. The two also happen to be at the top of numerous records as they are number one and two in the record books for most combined pass and rush yards in a players first five seasons as Newton (21,470-yards) just passed Manning (21,174) this season. And also are the only two quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 7,500+ yards and 40+ scores in their first two seasons.
While the similarities, mostly in terms of record breaking, exist, the differences between these two are what make this such a tantalizing matchup for the opposing defenses.
Newton is truly a one-of-a-kind quarterback with physical traits that have never been seen before in this league. He came in as a premiere dual-threat and has become more and more dangerous in each of his five seasons both through the air and on the ground. The Panthers quarterback has shattered the record books for the position due to his dual-threat ability as he holds the record for most games with a passing and rushing score (31) as well as being the first player in NFL history to throw for 10,000+ yards and run for 2,000+ yards in his first four seasons. And there’s many, many more that could be added to the list.
Newton’s first few years in the league saw plenty of individual statistical victories but it wasn’t until year three that he led his team to any real success and in this career-year, in which he’ll most likely end as the league MVP, he truly led his team and was the sole reason they are where they are today.
Manning on the flip side has already seen his prime years come and go but not without leaving his mark. The 18-year veteran has cemented himself as one of the best of all time, setting the record for career passing yards and touchdowns and already securing a Super Bowl ring with the Colts.
Manning also started off with subpar team success but quickly turned it around and became the elite quarterback that many think of. This season saw a massive drop off though as his age and the wear and tear of 18 years in the league has certainly taken its toll. He played in just 10 regular season games producing the worst statistical year of his career with just over 2,200-yards and nine touchdowns to 17-interceptions; nearly leading the league in picks.
And even into the playoffs it’s been a tale of two QBs.
The Panthers have lit up the scoreboard in both games thus far outscoring the Seahawks and Cardinals 80-39. Newton has been the primary x-factor as always, manning the helm and throwing for a combined 546-total yards and five total scores.
While the Broncos have needed plenty of defensive help in squeaking out two close victories by seven or less points in both games. In those games Manning has just 409-total yards and two scores while struggling to hit open receivers and get his offense into a consistent rhythm.
Where Manning makes his money though is in dissecting defenses at the line of scrimmage with his pre-snap reads and audibles. For years, the seasoned vet has been like an offensive coordinator on the field, calling and checking out of plays to exploit even the slightest weakness in an opposing defense and even with his physical traits declining, his mental prowess is as tough as ever.
Of course, it won’t truly be Newton vs. Manning as each team’s defense will really be the ones to have to face them. But when you have two teams led by such star-powered athletes as these, the comparison is inevitable.
And with Newton’s team-on-his-back playmaking abilities and Manning’s coordinator-on-the-field cerebral talents, these two both have the power to sway this Super Bowl 50 matchup one way or the other.