Some would argue that the only man standing in his way of clearly claiming that title is Packers quarterback Brett Favre as their respective 10–1 teams get ready for action Thursday night.
Romo, who was just 11 years old when Favre started his NFL career as a second-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons back in 1991, will face the future Hall-of-Famer head-to-head in a nationally televised game on Thursday night to throw some more fuel on the fire. And if you take a look at both men's numbers from this season, there are an uncanny number of similarities between the two despite the gap in age and experience.
But there are some key differences that should impact which player leads his team to victory.
To put those into differences into perspective, you need to first take a look at each quarterback's baseline numbers after 11 games. Romo is currently ranked third in passer rating behind Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger with a score of 105.3. He's completed 233 passes out of 352 attempts for 3,043 yards (13.1 yard per completion) and 29 touchdowns. The Cowboys' leader on offense has a 66.2 percent completion rate, has thrown 13 interceptions and has been sacked 16 times.
Brett Favre is currently fifth in the NFL with a passer rating of 101.5, with Jacksonville's David Garrard sandwiched in between him and Tony Romo. He's completed 291 of his 425 attempts for 3,356 yards (11.53 yards per completion) and 22 touchdowns. While completing 68.5 percent of his passes, he's thrown eight interceptions and has been sacked 14 times.
At first glance, Romo has the edge in passer rating, yards per completion and touchdowns. But the Packers' veteran quarterback has a better completion percentage, more total yards, less interceptions and less sacks.
So who's got the edge?
Red Zone Passing: Heading into this game, the veteran has performed better in the red zone than Tony Romo. While completing 59.6 percent of his passes inside the opponents' 20-yard line, Favre has thrown 15 touchdown passes and hasn't been intercepted once after his team crosses into that critically important area of the field. His passer rating in the red zone is 109.4, significantly higher than his overall rating.
In short, Favre gets even more confident when he sees the goal line is within his grasp.
While Romo has thrown just one interception in the red zone, his completion average drops from 66 percent to 52.4 percent when he's working inside the tighter confines of the red zone. That's a 14 percent drop compared to roughly a nine percent by Favre. And although Romo has more total touchdowns than Favre for the year, he's logged just 12 of them inside the red zone. His overall passer rating drops to 89.5 once he gets inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
The Long Ball: No doubt about it. Tony Romo can't get enough of the big-play passing game and leads the NFL with 43 passes of 20-plus yards this season. One of the most dangerous quarterbacks for any secondary to face, he's thrown 17 touchdown passes of 20-plus yards to also lead the league in that category.
And no one is even close to breathing down his neck.
New England's Tom Brady has 12 long-ball touchdown passes, while no other NFL quarterback has more than eight. Romo's average throw of more than 20 yards gains 30.2 yards for his team.
Favre is in fifth-place with 37 long passes and averages an even healthier 35.8 yards per completion. But by comparision, he's only thrown seven 20-plus-yard passes for touchdowns.
Worth noting before kickoff
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
-The pair of quarterbacks are practically carbon copies of each other on first down. Their completion average, yardage and passer ratings are dead-even. But Romo is a high-risk, high-reward quarterback on first down where Favre is more conservative. As a result, the Dallas quarterback has struck gold 12 times on first down plays, tossing twice as many touchdown passes as the veteran from Green Bay. But he's also thrown eight interceptions on first down compared to just two by Favre.
-Neither quarterback has been particularly hot in the first quarter this season, but Romo in particular has been a slow starter. Six of Romo's 13 interceptions this year have occurred in the opening period. And he's also suffered six of his 16 sacks in the first quarter. Believe it or not, Romo's passer rating is a mere 58.3 during the opening 15 minutes of the game.
- Although the Dallas defense is ranked seventh in the league with 30 sacks, don't expect any blitz packages to be a major factor in throwing Favre off his game. In blitz situations, he's been completing 70.9 percent of his passes this year, has thrown four touchdown passes and just three of his eight interceptions. And he hasn't been sacked during a blitz.
- Favre heavily favors his wide receivers in the passing game, throwing 59.3 percent of his passes to them. The running backs are next in the pecking order, with Favre targeting them 21.9 percent of the time, leaving the tight ends with just 18.1 percent of the throws.
- Romo uses his tight ends much more actively, targeting them 29.5 percent of the time he drops back to throw. The wide receivers draw 50.9 percent of the passes while the running backs are the least-likely targets at 17.9 percent.
Bottom Line: Who's got the edge?
Make no doubt about it, it'll be tough for Brett Favre to operate effectively in the pandemonium that will surely exist inside that stadium in Dallas on Thursday night.
But I still think he's got the edge in this head-to-head matchup.
Tony Romo's slow starts could put him in a hole early if Favre comes out fast and focused. And as the veteran, he's likely to want to send a message early that the young pup is going to have to try to keep up with the old man.
Romo's long-ball passes that have powered 17 of his 29 touchdown passes to date might not be as easy to complete into the right set of hands against a 10–1 opponent.
And if he heads into the fourth quarter trailing, he could be in big trouble. The Packers defense has logged 16 of their 32 sacks this season during the final 15 minutes of play. Romo's completion rate dips to 61.9 percent when blitzed, and he's taken seven of his 16 sacks in blitz situations, so his performance could suffer at a time when Dallas could least afford it.
Favre's performance in the red zone along with his low number of interceptions this season could be the two differentiators that keep the veteran a step ahead of the rising young star in Dallas. His steadiness and patience should allow him to hold off a very worthy challenge from Tony Romo.
And if he's able to do that in Dallas and in front of a national television audience, the debate may be quickly short-circuited.
At least until the playoffs begin.
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