Tom Brady Barely Outplaying Peyton Manning After Rough Start To 2014 Season

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Lamarr Houston, Tom BradyEven New England Patriots fans should be able to admit that Peyton Manning has been a better quarterback than Tom Brady this season.

Manning has 75 more yards, is completing 5.6 percent more of his passes, has four more touchdowns and a passer rating 14.3 points higher than Brady’s in one fewer game. The Denver Broncos quarterback has been showered with praise all the way to his  6-1 record, while Brady’s performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in September drew so much criticism that he’s still being mentioned in (dumb, hypothetical) trade rumors.

After a 30-for-35 performance Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Bears, it’s safe to say that Brady has righted the ship over the past four weeks, however.

Let’s look at the two QBs since Brady’s horrific Monday night performance four weeks ago:

Brady: 100 of 144, 1,268 yards, 14 touchdowns, no interceptions, 69.4 percent completion percentage, 8.8 yards per attempt, 129.1 passer rating

Manning: 100 of 141, 1,320 yards, 14 touchdowns, no interceptions, 70.9 completion percentage, 9.4 yards per attempt, 133.3 passer rating

It’s downright eerie how similar those numbers are.

Manning has benefited from his obviously better arsenal of receivers, however, as Broncos targets have dropped just five of his passes over the last four games, and only five more of his incompletions were because of throwaways, batted passes or times when he was hit while throwing, per Pro Football Focus.

Brady’s receivers have dropped 10 passes over the last four games, and 10 more incompletions were because of throwaways, batted passes or times when he was hit while throwing.

Take out those un-aimed attempts and drops, and Brady’s completion percentage soars to 80.7 with 10.2 yards per attempt and a 146.9 passer rating vs. Manning’s 76.3/10.1/133.3 line.

Brady’s targets have been playing much better of late, thanks to Rob Gronkowski’s improved health and Brandon LaFell’s emergence, but Manning, always the beneficiary of a better receiving corps, has a historically good offense around him. Demaryius Thomas is a top 10 receiver in the NFL, Emmanuel Sanders statistically is the best deep threat in the league right now and Julius Thomas has been an even better red zone threat than Gronk.

Manning’s receivers have picked up 560 yards after the catch over the last four games, while Brady’s have totaled 503, which puts Brady and Manning’s passing depth per completion at a nearly identical 7.65 (TB12) to 7.6 (the guy who sings about chicken parm in those commercials).

Neither Brady nor Manning are known for their arm strength deep into their careers, but Brady has completed 8 of 14 attempts over 20 yards for 264 yards with four touchdowns, while Manning has completed 9 of 16 deep passes for 360 yards with five touchdowns.

The stats are incredibly close, but Brady is just barely outplaying Manning over the last four weeks when looking at their numbers a little more closely.

The Brady-Manning debate will never be settled. Brady has the rings and Manning has the stats. At 37 and 38 years old, respectively, we probably won’t get to see many more Brady-Manning battles, so let’s enjoy Sunday’s matchup (and the crazy week ahead) as both quarterbacks obviously are still playing at the top of their games.

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