Even though Peyton finished the season with 55 TD passes, five more than Tom Brady's 2007 record (which, incidentally, broke Manning's previous record of 49), and well over 5000 yards, something seemed a bit...off in my stat-addled brain. For such an otherworldly season, Peyton seemed to be involved in an awful lot of close games, and he also seemed to be mercilessly piling it on against hapless opponents.
Incidentally, did anyone else find it strange that, during the Patriots' undefeated 2007 regular season, every football journalist with an internet connection lined up to shame the Patriots for "running up the score", yet not one of them had the cojones to say the same about the the Broncos in 2013, even though those very pundits reminded us at every turn that Denver had outscored the 2007 Patriots?
At any rate, my theory on Peyton Manning has never changed: He's great when he's comfortable, but apply one bit of pressure, of the psychological or pocket variety, and he can't be counted on. Tom Brady, on the other hand, takes his game to another level when it matters the most. No, he doesn't always win, but then, Joe Montana lost a few big games, too.
If my theories on these two great quarterbacks is true, then the statistics during their respective record-setting seasons should show that Manning's performance declined against stronger opponents and during road games, when quarterbacks are less comfortable, and that Brady's numbers exceeded Manning's in these same situations.
Well, well, well. Looks like I was right again! In his supposedly transcendent 2013 season, Manning beat Brady in exactly two out of nine categories in road games, and in ZERO out of nine categories vs. opponents over .500.
Seriously guys, I know you love Peyton. He's a funny dude who makes cool commercials. And I know it pisses you off that Brady is more handsome than you (and me), and is married to a Victoria's Secret angel who also happens to be the richest model on the planet Earth. But take the emotion out of it for a minute, and look at the chart again. How many different ways do we have to say it? Peyton is not the guy you want when the going is rough.