On Sunday, we'll be treated to yet another edition of the Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning matchup, the one we've collectively enjoyed for years dating back to Brady's emergence as one of the league's all-time greats. Manning, who has had his share of ups and downs against the Patriots, and, in particular, Bill Belichick, will get another shot Sunday when his new team, the Broncos, travels to New England for a mid-day showdown at Gillette Stadium. The circumstances have changed seeing as though Manning is in a new city, but whenever Brady and Manning butt heads, it's always must-see TV, sparking debates as to which future Hall of Famer has the upper hand. That undoubtedly puts pressure on each defense, too, and both teams figure to have their hands full against these elite quarterbacks, particularly the Broncos, who now have to contend with the Patriots' running game due to the recent emergence of rookie Brandon Bolden. The one advantage Denver might have is the fact they know Josh McDaniels' offense; the Patriots' offensive coordinator was the Broncos' head coach three years ago, so there is some carryover, but that might be negated by the fact Manning is still Manning, running the same offense he ran to near-perfection years ago in Indianapolis. This should be an interesting week for defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who will have his hands full breaking down film of the old- and new-look Manning. "Obviously, Peyton Manning is doing everything that he does," Patricia said. "He is obviously a tremendous player and is really driving that offense right now and doing all of the things that he does that make him Peyton Manning. He is certainly a very difficult and challenging quarterback to face and one that really seems like he has a good rhythm going. "They have tremendous players over there between (Demaryius) Thomas and (Eric) Decker and (Brandon) Stokley at the skill positions, along with the running backs all the way through, starting with (Willis) McGahee, who obviously had a huge game, and to the tight ends with (Jacob) Tamme and (Joel) Dreessen really coming through for them to make that offense go. He's really done a phenomenal job out there. He looks great." The running backs Patricia mentioned might be the key to the Patriots' defensive game plan. They've been elite in terms of shutting down opposing running backs, starting with Chris Johnson last week and continuing this past Sunday with the explosive C.J. Spiller. McGahee is a challenge, as always, and he's finally healthy, which makes shutting him down one of New England's focal points. The fans might love seeing another classic Manning and Brady shootout, but neither coach would prefer that -- particularly the Broncos, who have undoubtedly seen enough highlights of Brady picking apart the Bills in the second half of last week's win. After some struggles the past two weeks, the Patriots might have finally turned the corner. They had two receivers haul in more than 100 receiving yards and two running backs crack the century mark in the same game. The Broncos don't have the firepower to match that production, even with Manning. "We've shown, at times, flashes of pretty good football," Brady said. "I think that was a pretty big part of it last weekend and scoring. (We) really capitalized on the opportunities that we got there in the second half from really the defense turning the ball over for us that we didn't do in the first half. It's really our inconsistency that's leading to us not scoring points, whether it was in the first half of that particular game or the first half of the Arizona game. "If we play well, we can move the ball, (and) we can get the ball in the end zone. If we don't play well, if we don't do our job the way that people expect us and our coaches expect us to, we're not going to score points. If you don't score points you're not going to win the game." The same goes for each week, particularly in this upcoming game. The Broncos are a formidable opponent. They've had the Patriots' number in recent years. Now they have another familiar face -- a Hall of Fame quarterback who's been a thorn in New England's side for years.
- Peyton Manning
- Tom Brady