I'm not saying the Brady-Manning era is over. It clearly is not since the two future Hall of Famers have the second and third best records in the AFC. Nor am I suggesting that Brady and Manning are the only elite QBs in the League. But for over a decade they have been at the center of AFC football, winning 4 Championships, representing the AFC in 7 Super Bowls, and claiming 6 MVP awards.
But Manning is 37. Brady's 36. How much longer can these guys continue to be so prominent in the game?
On Sunday Manning was limping on an apparently injured ankle. Brady's been denying that he has an injured throwing hand, but it appears to be swollen. How much longer can these guys endure the brutality of the game? How many more years can they play 16 games in 17 weeks, then play in even tougher postseason games? How much longer can they play at the highest level?
Manning's been sacked 265 times in his career. Brady 329. That doesn't include all the hits after they've released the ball, all the times they've been blocked hard during an interception or fumble return.
How many more throws do their arms have? How many more scrambles do their legs have? How many more progressions do their eyes have? How many more audibles do their minds have?
Manning is having an excellent year in Denver. Brady's 2013 season hasn't been nearly as impressive, but the team is 7-2 and there have been glimpses of greatness. Last week's win over Pittsburgh was vintage Brady. And his game-winning TD pass against the Saints was sheer brilliance.
If the season ended today, the Patriots and Broncos would be the 2 and 3 seeds in the AFC playoffs, respectively. The Broncos have the 2nd best record in the Conference and the Patriots the 3rd best. Peyton is putting up absurd numbers out in Denver. Brady has struggled, but once again has the support of a strong defense, which makes the Patriots a dangerous team in the playoffs.
The Broncos face the Pats on November 24th in Foxborough.
So enjoy this rivalry while it lasts. This might be one of the final years that both these guys can play at the top of their game, competing for Super Bowls and MVPs.