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Published on 10/05/2012 at Fri Oct 05 09:00.
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Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning meet on the field for the 13th time Sunday in Foxboro.

We all know this weekend is about Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, no matter what each quarterback tells you. But for one second, let’s indulge their insistent “it’s Patriots vs. Broncos” remarks and look at how the Patriots vs. Broncos fare in the eyes of Football Outsiders‘ smarter stats. Remember that negative percentages are good on defense, bad on offense and specials.

Offensive DVOA – 33.2% (1st)
Boom. There it is folks. The stat that doesn’t lie. The Patriots are the NFL’s best offense. Maybe this game is about Peyton Manning having to purely outscore Tom Brady after all, because one thing is certain — the Patriots will score. They have the top-ranked passing attack (52.2% DVOA) and second-best rushing attack (19.1%). Both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski returned to practice this week, so if they’re full go for Sunday, the Pats will even have their Bronco-killing two tight end formation in play.

The Broncos’ saving grace may be the fact that their defense is decent. They’re ranked 7th in DVOA with -15.3%. Only Arizona ranks higher defensively (6th, -17.2%) among teams the Patriots have faced, and the Cardinals beat them.

Defensive DVOA – -1.7% (18th)
The Patriots have a number of young playmakers on their defensive front seven, including starting rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower. The growing pains have been minimal, and in fact each is playing solid. Where the Patriots struggle — and where they’ve always struggled over the last several seasons — is in the secondary. Safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory are susceptible to getting beaten deep and taking bad angles. The Patriots pass defense, at a morbid 18.2% DVOA, reflects that, while their -30.8% DVOA against the run shows much more discipline in that area. Denver’s 10th-ranked offense has a chance to make the Patriots pay, especially if they rely on Peyton Manning’s arm.

Special Teams
Special Teams DVOA – -3.3% (24th)
Neither special teams is anything special, though the Broncos do have a slight edge with the 17th-ranked special teams unit.

The Broncos may be a bit more statistically balanced between offense and defense, but the Patriots’ offense is good enough to make anyone pay anyway, especially at home. Looks like this could be all about Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning after all.

  • TheTroglodyte

    I’m really excited about this game but it makes me nervous Manning is going to be exposed. He has a long history of shakiness in big games and I’m still seeing an awful lot of his throws wobble something fierce.

    This game could easily set the tone for the rest of the year one way or the other. I don’t think we necessarily have to win it but we have to play very well across the board.

  • DougEngland

    I’m not predicting what is going to happen, but…
    I have watched every single play of every single game Peyton Manning has played in the NFL. Please do not fall into the media created trap that “he has a long history of shakiness in big games”. Trust me, nothing could be farther from the truth.
    (Also, I could show you plenty of highlights from the 2005 season when he threw for 49 TDs and had a 121 QB ranking, and he still threw plenty of passes that “wobbled”.)
    Remember this is the guy that made Belichick go for it on 4th and two at his own 22 ahead by six with two minutes to go.

  • TheTroglodyte

    I have not watched every single play. I find that really hard to believe anybody has. I have seen probably 80% of his games though and you and I will have to agree to disagree.

  • TheTroglodyte

    Also, that Belichick play is blown way out of proportion. You should include the rest of the context that there was about 4 starters on that defense not injured and I don’t think there was a single starter in the secondary. He was working with arguably one of the worst secondary’s in the last decade.

  • Leo Maes

    Didn’t know it took that long for a guy to be in the league to finally get exposed… that’s ridiculous. Also I will have to disagree with you as well on you explaining about wobble throws, the guy just picked apart a defense. Atlanta game, bad decisions ( that’s all it was ) and the Houston game was getting burned twice on defense. Manning is fine, and if the d plays solid… Broncos win.

  • Doom92

    I agree that playing well is paramount. We are and will still be learning to play together if this was another close loss and we competed for the whole game it would be a good thing. I think seeing us only play for the last 9 min again and loose close would be a set back for sure.

  • Doom92

    I think it would be even a little weird if some one saw every play of ANY players entire career. But if you say you have who am I to say you have not (in this case the under-tone is intended)??? With that said I agree that Peyton has been known for a wobbly pass or two well before landing here ~shrug~. LOL…

    I remember saying on a number of occasions, “what makes this guy so great” something I’m sure many other fans said about Elway that didn’t watch him week in and week out… I have ties to Indiana and have had a few discussions on Elway vs Peyton that were; we’ll say spirited ;-).

  • Doom92

    I agree he as well… Manning isn’t broken by any stretch of the imagination. Our town is rough on QB’s is part of what it boils down to, having Elway in his corner is a good thing where that is concerned.

    Manning simply has a fare amount of “ring rust” left on him. To think that he is broken is simply, as Leo says, Ridiculous… He’ll get past it and we’ll just have to be patient. And the really GOOD thing for us is that he still has a short memory, I think that is in the Manning family DNA.

  • TheTroglodyte


  • TheTroglodyte

    Well said