I am a die-hard New England Patriots fan and a huge homer, and I believe Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning. Those who argue Manning is the GOAT, or at least that he is better than Brady, will point out Manning’s statistics and the MVPs. Those (like me) who vehemently argue that Brady is better than Manning and the best of his era will point to the three Super Bowl rings in five appearances and record eight conference championship games. Brady detractors will shout, “He’s had Bill Belichick his entire career!” Manning detractors will shout just as loudly, “He’s been surrounded by better talent than Brady for his entire career!” Both sides have made up their minds, and both QBs are still in the NFL. Neither side will budge from their position. No matter what information you bring to the table, this argument cannot be won.
This article will focus on each of their statistically best seasons (Brady in 2007 and Manning in 2013) in an effort to determine who had the better best season. Both seasons may be two of the best ever by a QB.
Both QBs averaged 8.3 yards per attempt in their respective best seasons. Both QBs also had Wes Welker to throw to. Both made it to the Super Bowl (the Patriots lost another heart breaker to the New York Giants; the Denver Broncos will play the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2).
The case for Manning’s 2013 season:
Manning had four neck surgeries that caused him to miss the entire 2011 season and he is 37 years old. Even I have to admit that is pretty remarkable. By contrast, Brady was 30 in 2007 and had never suffered a major injury (that came the following season when Brady tore his ACL thanks to the Patriots assassin himself, Bernard Karmell Pollard). Manning broke both Brady’s touchdown record (50 in 2007) by throwing 55 touchdowns and Drew Brees‘ yardage record by throwing for 5,477 yards. Brady threw for 4,806 in 2007. Manning threw 16 more touchdowns in 2013 than the second place QB — Brady threw 14 more than second place in 2007.
Yes, Manning probably had the better supporting cast as a whole (Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Eric Decker), but Brady did have the luxury of playing with Randy Moss, who could have been the best wide receiver in NFL history if he had been focused and applied himself more.
In 2007, Moss was ready to play and sometimes was in double or triple coverage. That opened up the rest of the field for Brady, plus he could still throw to Moss. This is why, although they won’t find another Moss, the Patriots need to add a receiver who can stretch the field.
The case for Brady’s 2007 season:
Brady edges Manning in both completion percentage (68.9 vs. 68.3) and passer rating (117.2 vs. 115.1). Brady threw eight interceptions (12 total turnovers) to Manning’s 10 (17 total turnovers). Yes, Manning threw five more touchdowns, but he also threw 81 more passes than Brady. Brady actually edges Manning in touchdown percentage (8.7 to 8.3). Brady could have thrown 57 touchdowns if he had thrown as many passes as Manning. How many top-10 defenses did Manning face in 2013? Two. That’s it. And only one was in the top five. I know you can only play who is on the schedule, and Peyton certainly helped the Broncos whoop some teams. However, in 2007, Brady had to face six top-10 defenses, four of which were in the top five. Manning was lucky enough to play against one of the NFL’s 10 worst pass defenses nine times in 2013, with six games against a team ranked in the bottom five.
So, who had the better season? Manning got the records, but Brady was more efficient, played tougher defenses, and had more wins (18-1 with a 16-0 regular season vs. 15-3 with the Super Bowl yet to be played).
I feel fortunate that I was able to watch both seasons. Any team would take either season, and both will be remembered for a long time. My opinion? I almost chose Manning because of his age (37) and the fact he had the season he did after four neck surgeries. However, Brady’s 2007 season gets the edge. There was something special about that season and the Patriots’ quest for 19-0 and immortality, which came up just short because David Tyree (who never had another NFL reception) made an incredible helmet catch after Eli Manning inexplicably was not sacked.