LOVERRO: Burden on Peyton Manning in Tom Brady matchup

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) heads toward the locker room after shaking hands with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) after losing in overtime of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 34-31. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) heads toward the locker room after shaking hands with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) after losing in overtime of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 34-31. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

NFL conference weekend features the sort of matchup we love — the King Kong vs. Godzilla of quarterbacks in this football era.

The New England Patriots face the Denver Broncos Sunday, but the attraction is Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, one more time.

We look at it as a showdown between the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, even though they never actually face each other on the field. Manning doesn’t square off against Brady.

It’s like when two great pitchers are matched up. Save for the obligatory at-bat by National League pitchers, while Stephen Strasburg vs. Clayton Kershaw might be the marquee battle, they don’t go against each other.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, left, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, right, meet after the Patriots' 31-21 win in their NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, left, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom ... more >

But we pit them against each other, and it’s difficult to believe that Manning doesn’t see it as a game between him and Brady. He may be throwing at Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib on Sunday, but he will be measured now and forever against Brady.

We don’t argue about Joe Montana vs. Lawrence Taylor. We do, though, passionately debate Montana vs. Dan Marino, or John Elway.

In those comparisons, Manning doesn’t fare well against his New England peer.

Brady is 10-4 against Manning in his career, 2-1 in the playoffs. Manning has a losing career playoff record of 10-11, with one Super Bowl and one loss.

Brady has a postseason mark of 18-7 record. He’s been to five Super Bowls, and won three of them, twice being the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.

Brady wins the playoff comparison.

Statistically, over the course of their careers, it is Manning who has been Brady’s better.

In 16 seasons, Manning has 491 career touchdown passes, completing 5,532 passes in 8.452 attempts for 64,964 yards, and a 97.2 quarterback rating. He has won four NFL Most Valuable Player honors.

Brady, over 14 seasons, has 359 touchdown passes, completing 4,178 passes in 6,586 attempts for 49,149 yards and a 93.7 quarterback rating. He has half the number of Manning’s MVP awards, with two.

Brady carries the reputation of a winner. Manning has the burden of greatness coming up short in championship moments.

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