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AFC Playoffs: Tom Brady Has More To Gain This Sunday Than Peyton Manning

Brady Manning

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Without question, Peyton Manning has the most to lose this Sunday, leading his Denver Broncos into the AFC Championship against his chief adversary in the New England Patriots.

Manning still is stuck with just that one Super Bowl ring, one less than little bro Eli Manning, and just as much as less distinguished, modern-era signal callers like Joe Flacco, Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer. Manning may be the best passer in NFL history, but with just one championship, he is not is the discussion when it comes to the best quarterback of all time.

However, Tom Brady is in that discussion.

We all know we judge the all-time quarterbacks on a scale far less focused on passing numbers and much more insistence on winning in the postseason. Here are some Brady numbers that stand out: 18 career playoff victories, two more than the man he is chasing for all-time superiority, Joe Montana; eight trips to the conference championship game, which is basically good for every two out of three years Brady has been the starter; five trips to the Super Bowl, and three Vince Lombardi trophies.

The fourth Brady title has been oh-so elusive. Brady won his third Super Bowl at age 27 and a fourth title seemed all but imminent to happen before retirement. That was until losses in Super Bowl XLII and XLVI to the New York Giants happened, while other postseason heartbreakers were mixed in between.

On Sunday, Brady has the chance to get to his sixth Super Bowl, which would be an NFL record. And if Brady were to take home the Super Bowl XLVIII crown two Sunday’s later (barring a Nor’easter, the Super Bowl will be held Sunday, February 2), he would have to go down as better than his boyhood idol Montana for all-time supremacy.

The reason? It is much harder to win the NFL these days, with more teams and franchises having more difficulty signing their top players than in the days of Montana’s San Francisco 49ers. Plus, Brady’s two unsuccessful trips to football’s biggest game has to count for something.

A victory over the Broncos would mean that Brady is one more win away from being the best of all time, and how often can we say we are watching a football player solidify his case as the greatest ever? Not to mention at the most important position in American sports? That is what Brady is on the cusp of.

Dan Charest is a Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DannyACharest or add him to your network on Google.