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ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Over at ESPN Insider, a look at Tom Brady and Peyton Manning's playoff records. So often wins and losses come down to one play, and the difference between Brady's 22-8 and Manning's 12-13 is heavily determined by six specific plays where neither quarterback was even on the field: four field goals and two plays by defenders named Moore. We'll be expanding this article with a look at similar plays for other current top quarterbacks in a second article on Football Outsiders next week.

We will not be enforcing our usual "no Brady-Manning arguments" rule in the discussion thread for this article, so go nuts, people.

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233 comments, Last at 26 Jan 2016, 3:28pm

1 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

"We will not be enforcing our usual "no Brady-Manning arguments" rule in the discussion thread for this article, so go nuts, people."

Ooooh, Scotty-Scotty-Scott-Scott, you serious?

I can't imagine, given their current productivity, this thread having nearly the vituperation it did 10-12 years ago when it hijacked FOMB and ended up quarantined. But holy crap were those fun arguments. And they don't change, but Manning's tumble down the cliff just takes away the urgency a bit for 18ers and makes 12ers feel like they're kicking Grandpa's three-legged dog. All in good fun, of course.

2 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Oh, that and rings are all that matter. Yes, when Manning wins his second this year (even from the bench, a ring is a ring, eh?) he'll finally be twice as good as Trent Dilfer, half as good as Brady, and his kid brother will finally tell him the secret password to get into the treehouse he and Flacco built.

4 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I don't have ESPN Insider, so I can't read the article, but the article's premise sounds silly to me.

Couldn't you do the same exercise (changing six high leverage plays not involving either player) to make Brady win all six Super Bowls he played and Peyton Manning not win any Super Bowls?

I agree that close games often come down to one or two high leverage plays. However, in order to make your case, you would have to look at all high leverage plays that didn't involve Brady or Manning and show that more of them broke Brady's way than broke Manning's way. Maybe you did that, but it seems like it would be very difficult to show.

10 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

If that's the thesis of the article, then I can't really argue with it. But based on the title and description that's not what it appeared to me to be.

Again, can't read the article so maybe someone who can would clarify.

However, I think you go too far downplaying the usefulness of playoff win-loss records. We agree that they are probably relied on too heavily by most people, but they do mean something. If all of those high leverage plays not involving Brady or Manning were completely random, then the probability of them all breaking for Brady is 2%.

In other words, if the last 15 years of playoffs were played over again 100 times and all random high leverage plays were randomized, then Manning would have the same playoff record as Brady or a better playoff record two times.

Now, if you could show that Brady got more breaks from his team than Manning did, which is probably true, then you could show that number should be higher. But that doesn't seem to be what you or Scott is saying.

13 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

No, I'm not going too far in downplaying it. Before we even get to the high leverage plays that don't involve the two qbs, or are random, we have to examine what it means that a football game has 44 starters, before even examining the role of special teams. It really can't be overstated. The use of w-l records, in a sample of 20-30 playoff games, in a one-and-done format, as a means of comparing the performances of two individual football players, is just monumentally, incredibly, titanically, unfathomably stupid. It gives good reason to despair for the human race, as much as wasting time talking about a game with players in funny pants can do so.

16 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I agree that many players are involved, but the quarterback is the most important player on the field. The quarterback is so important that I would think that some valuable analysis regarding the quarterback play can be extracted from the quarterback's win-loss record.

Thirty playoff games is nearly two seasons. I think that's more than a large enough sample size to start to make some conclusions. Again, I think most people probably rely too heavily on wins and losses to evaluate quarterbacks, but it seems to me that you can get some information from two years worth of a quarterbacks record.

34 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

There are all kinds of flaws by pretending you can string playoff games and make up a full sample. Statistically speaking, these are all games coming from different distributions, but i prefer wills explanation - theres a million other variables that change so pretending like these are comparable is wrong. That's not a convenient excuse by manning fans but a statistical reality.

35 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Yes, there's millions of variables, but without any reason to suspect that the variables are biased one way or the other, then you'd expect they should average out. And in fact the more variables you have the more likely they are to average out evenly.

Now, if we actually did the analysis, we could probably say that there are some systematic biases in the variables (e.g. Brady has had a better coach). But that's not the argument Will or Scott appear to be making.

39 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

We can't even begin to make any reasonable assumptions about what weight should be assigned to the variables. There are no reasonable expectations. It's all guesswork, and we have no way of even approaching the development of a framework which give us any basis for confidence as to the quality of our guesses.

50 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Ah but I love Macro!!

Despite no damning single piece of evidence, theories in macro do evolve and people do change their views, it just takes a while. Andrew would agree with me, I think. The role of central banks being one that fundamentally changed our view of macro back in the 1960s. And again today.

44 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Well, I think a reasonable starting assumption is that the variables are distributed in an unbiased manner.

Look, I agree quarterback record is not a great statistic for determining who's the better quarterback. But it's also not nothing.

If I gave you the records of two quarterbacks over the last two season and one quarterback had a .500 record and another had a .700 record, I think you could say with some amount of confidence (probably not 95%, but higher than 1%) that the quarterback with the .700 record is the better quarterback (the quarterback position is just that important).

We could actually try this out and see how it worked. We could rank quarterbacks by some metric that you like and then see how well their two-season records correlated with that metric.

59 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I work as a statistican.

I should be clear - its not like it will lead you off a cliff or anything, its just - to correlate two things against each other, there are some underlying assumptions that are made. If any are violated, it doesn't mean your answer will be wrong, just that you can't be sure your results aren't biased.

One is the ommitted variable assumption - like not accounting for the changing players, schemes, coaches, road and away effects.

The other is the independent and identically distributed assumption. Namely, if these were samples drawn from a constant distribution, we could compare. But the distributions themselves are changing - particularly the rules environment and the age curves of the players in question.

64 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Yeah, I'm aware that things are very messy.

My point is playoff quarterback record is information. It's not not information.

If I told you one quarterback had a .700 record over 30 games and another had a .500 record, and that you had to predict which one is better by some other metric in a game not in the original 30 game sample. Wouldn't you have to pick the .700 quarterback?

I mean you might not even be able to quantify your confidence level, because of some of the issues you raise, but it's above 0%.

72 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I took a class on the econometrics on popular economic theories. One looked at the growth across rich and poor nations. One of the prevailing theories in economics was that investment in heavy industries( think steel and raw capital accumulation) was the key to economic growth. And the data seemed to back up that idea, because raw capital was seen among high growth nations. We know now that that theory is wrong, but unless you know what to look for, running regressions or making simple comparisons can be incredibly misleading.

Think of a baseball analogy. If we looked at raw stats and saw a .300 hitter vs a .250 hitter, we might proclaim the .300 hitter better. But, how volatile was the batting average? Are those rates stable across time. Are there age effects going on? Those aren't so much ommitted variables as much as changing dynamics that will completely mislead our results.

73 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Yeah, you'd ask all those questions about the hitter, and they would help you determine how confident you are in saying the .300 hitter is better than the .250 hitter.

But if you didn't have any other information than .200 and .300, and you were forced to choose, you'd say the .300 hitter is better.

Look, I'm not saying quarterback playoff record is a definitive stat or even a very useful stat.

What I am doing is disagreeing with Will who said playoff record has no utility in determining which quarterback is better.
All, I'm saying that playoff record for a sample size of thirty games has some utility.

98 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Football is a perfectly valid subject for publishing:

http://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/opre.19.2.541

(I'm assuming everyone here's read this at some point, or at least the folks who remember DPAR)

And, if you're feeling ambitious, there's always this:

http://www.iospress.nl/journal/journal-of-sports-analytics/?tab=submission-of-manuscripts

55 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Yeah, it is a real mistake to compare 32 consecutive regular season games with 30 playoff games played over 15-18 years.

I really think a metric that gives you a very low degree on confidence in a proposition may be worse than no metric at all, due to the very human tendency to begin to be invested too much in a position. I guess I really pefer a default inclination to proclaim "Damned if I know", which is, of course, a position in and of itself, but I think it is one that is more likely to result in constant improvement in one's knowledge.

57 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Well I see some information as better than no information. You can use some information that puts a conclusion at a low confidence level in combination with other information to raise the confidence level.

But as far as two seasons vs 30 playoff games. I think 30 playoff games is a better measure of a quarterback's ability because his teammates are likely to have changed more in 15 years than in two years.

62 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Well I see some information as better than no information. You can use some information that puts a conclusion at a low confidence level in combination with other information to raise the confidence level.

This makes about as much sense as evaluating school teachers based on their students' standardized test scores. There is no proper context, no proper accounting for other variables, no (or nearly no) useful information at all. And what useful information might be there isn't likely to tell you what you think it tells you.

68 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

95% is waaay too high a confidence interval for that.

By that measure, for example, Alex Smith (19-12), Teddy Bridgewater (17-11), Ryan Fitzpatrick (16-12), and Matthew Stafford (18-14) are better than Drew Brees (14-17), Philip Rivers (13-19), Matt Ryan (12-18), and Eli Manning (12-20). Those tiers are upside down, I'd guess, to most reasonable observers. But that's around 25% of the established starting quarterbacks in the league over the past two seasons.

88 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

The way I'm picturing it in my mind is that Brady+teammates has a distribution of win loss records and Manning+teammates has a distribution of win loss records. We only have one measurement and we found Brady at 22-8 and Manning at 12-13.

First we want to know whether the mean of Brady+teammates is greater than the mean of Manning+teammates. Scott's article appears to be trying to argue that there's no real reason to think the mean of Brady+teammates is greater than the mean of Manning+teammates because six high leverage plays can get the records to look the same. I think that's silly to say because the probability of six 50-50 propositions to all fall one way is 2%.

Will appears to be saying that our one measurement of the Brady+teammates distribution and the Manning+teammates distribution doesn't say anything about who is better Brady or Manning. While I agree that you have to be careful because the teammates are different, the matchups are different, and the single elimination factor, I think that our one measurement of the two distributions does say something about the two quarterbacks. How much? Probably not a whole lot. But something.

91 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I think we're having a disagreement about epistemology that we probably can't bridge.

I see data that doesn't allow you to reach a definitive conclusion but contains some residual information about the system of interest to be useful as long as you are careful about how you use it.

I do agree with you that most people don't have the proper care when using this type of data.

121 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

W-L is 30 data points but lets compare DVOA or DYAR to get more data points and adjust for variables like defense or field position. Now 30 games provides a lot of data and we can at least adjust for some reasonably meaningful confounders even if we can't account for everything. I imagine Brady is still better on the basis of turnovers alone.

8 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I think when we were originally having those arguments the people claiming they would rather have Brady were deluding themselves and letting outcome bias distort their perceptions.

But the last 5 years have been clearly better for the Brady side of the argument, and so now it seems a lot more even to me in terms of who was was the better QB over their career.

Can I take Manning from seasons 1-13 and Brady for seasons 14 on?

17 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

2011 and 2015 for two reasons. Look at 2007 on (they both missed a season)- the statistical imbalance which was clearly in PM's favor going into 2007 seems to swing back towards Brady. Not trying to fan the flames, but that is my sense after a quick look at the numbers. I am sure others will look at it differently.

95 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

If I did my ciphering correctly, from 2007 on, Brady: 3057/4728 for 36464,281TD, 72INT, 8.2AY/A, 14121 DYAR. Manning: 2994/4490 for 34354, 264TD, 112INT, 7.7 AY/A,11810 DYAR.

If you look at 2001-2006, Manning's 10,319 to 5,718 DYAR advantage seems to exemplify the statistical disparity of that particular PM-TB era, despite ringz and stuff.

14 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Much of this is subjective, but that "14 on" seems a little late IMO - Brady stats 2007 and after compare quite favorably with PM. Brady is closing the statistical gap as time goes on, and I didn't think that would happen in a meaningful way early in his career. Agree that Manning's decline this year seems to skew the popular perception of the rivalry. A win Sunday helps him immensely perception-wise.

In any event, Scott will beat the drum for Manning as long as there is skin on the drum, so we can count on him to keep this debate alive.

Would like to see someone analyze these two in terms of performance in light of the weapons and O-lines they had, but that would be quite an undertaking (and is perhaps impossible). I continue to believe Manning is a little higher in GOAT ranking, but it seems IMO they may both wind up top 5. Again, very subjective.

22 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Would like to see someone analyze these two in terms of performance in light of the weapons and O-lines they had, but that would be quite an undertaking (and is perhaps impossible).

Scott did a little bit with REC+/- and C%+ differential before the season started, but I think there are more factors to look at like receiver age/career trajectory.

12 Attempt to Rationalize the Irrational Brady-Manning Argument

I think one of the main reasons the argument of who is better between Brady and Manning is irrational is because the term "better" is not well defined in this context. Therefore, in order to have a rational Brady-Manning argument we must define our standard. I will attempt to do so in this post.

I propose that the measure for who is better between Brady and Manning be defined as follows. Take both players and simulate their careers over a large ensemble of various teammates and coaching staffs. The player with the larger number of Super Bowls wins when averaged over this ensemble is the better player.

Of course, it's not currently feasible to do any such calculation, and it may never be feasible. But if we ever want reach a consensus on which player is better, we must first agree on a metric for greatness.

15 Re: Attempt to Rationalize the Irrational Brady-Manning Argument

An unobtainable metric is really the same as no metric.

Frankly, I know this sort of debate is the foundation of all sports yakking, but I've really developed the inclination that it is very uninteresting, because it really can't be examined in an empirically sound, precise, way in football. To me, it is akin to a debate about the existence of a Supreme Being, which just bores me to tears.

23 Re: Attempt to Rationalize the Irrational Brady-Manning Argument

Better that than a sheen of pseudo-empiricism, which is what dominates so many sports debates, especially in football. I prefer my Faith-based debaters to be frank with regard to the foundation of their position. If nothing else, it tells me to avoid wasting my time trying to convince them that they are wrong.

20 Re: Attempt to Rationalize the Irrational Brady-Manning Argument

"An unobtainable metric is really the same as no metric."

I disagree. If we at least know what we want to put in the metric, then that will help clarify what we have to keep in mind. For example, you argue above that the other 52 players matter. Of course I agree with this, and that's why the metric explicitly takes teammates into account. You didn't mention coaching staff, but of course that matters too.

I would argue that, in principle, it likely can "be examined in an empirically sound, precise, way in football" with a sophisticated enough simulation algorithm and powerful enough computers.

In fact, it's possible that we're all just part of a simulation to determine who is better Brady or Manning. How's that for an ontological argument? Does that one bore you?

101 Re: Attempt to Rationalize the Irrational Brady-Manning Argument

Why not? FO projects WL records and playoff odds pre-season based on brute-forcing thousands of simulated games. Just swap QBs for each season's simulation, and see how the projections change...

We have a full season each of Colts without Manning and Patriots without Brady, hell we even have TD-record MVP playing for a new team. I think those tell you something.

104 Re: Attempt to Rationalize the Irrational Brady-Manning Argument

Tbh, the Cassel season did teach me something about the Patriots. Yes, their record was inflated by the easy schedule; but even still - there were some interesting trends that emerged that season. Like Cassel actually putting up advanced numbers that were way beyond what hes ever done in seasons after. Also, the way Ne's pass offense got a lot better in teh second half after they took some of the training wheels off Cassel. It was interesting that they had the highest pass dvoa in football in the 2nd half, so high that it was up there with the steelers last year. Ofc, there's a lot of small sample size going on, but its interesting nonetheless.

Does that imply brady is some version of Olandis Geary? For some people it does, but not to me. After all, if you put a hall of fame qb in a good system - that should produce excellent results. Which it has.

106 Re: Attempt to Rationalize the Irrational Brady-Manning Argument

No doubt, but like the rest of this discussion, there are lots of other factors involved.

First, did you know that NE's passing DVOA dropped more after Brady's injury than Indy's did after Manning's?

NE 2007 PDOVA: 72.7%
NE 2008 PDOVA: 14.4%

Indy 2010 PDVOA: 29.5%
Indy 2011 PDVOA: -16.5%

There is also the consideration that NE's roster was vastly superior in 2008 than Indy's was in 2011, and that, as bad as Cassel has proven to be, he is much better than the QBs Indy was trotting out.

Personally, I find the comparison between post-injury performance to be one of the weaker pro-Manning arguments.

233 Re: Attempt to Rationalize the Irrational Brady-Manning Argument

Cassel:
2008- 458 DYAR, 1.1% DVOA
2010- 589 Dyar, 8.4% DVOA

Why does everyone forgot that under near identical circumstances (talented supporting cast, weak schedule), Cassel was able to replicate his success in Kansas City, granted for only one season, but the 2010 Chiefs showed that Cassel could lead a team to the playoffs. That's something he never did in New England.

2010 Chiefs played better then the 2008 Patriots.

The only thing analyzing the Chiefs/Pats from 2007-2010 is it proves that:
Thigpen

105 Re: Attempt to Rationalize the Irrational Brady-Manning Argument

I don't think they have the ability to separate quarterback play from the rest of the team accurately (It's a very difficult problem). I think they probably just take the DVOA from the previous year, maybe make some adjustments by hand for departures or additions, and then plug that into a formula that gives them a probability of winning based on the team's and opponent's DVOA.

24 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Just some food for thought regarding points scored in playoff games. Special teams and defensive scores are ignored for both to make my life easier. :)

Manning

Avg PPG: 22.2
Avg PPG allowed by defense: 18.3
Net: +3.9

Brady

Avg PPG: 26.3
Avg PPG allowed by defense: 19.4
Net: +6.9

While Brady has faced an easier slate of defenses, his teams have scored three additional points above opponent average than Manning's teams. I'll leave it up to you to decide if NE's superior defenses early on matters more or less than Manning's superior weaponry.

It is also noteworthy that Manning's numbers are skewed upward by a few outstanding performances. Not that he should be penalized for that, but it is interesting to consider the figures for each QB without the high end. Please note that I am cutting off an extra data point for Brady to account for the fact that he has played more playoff games.

Manning with top TWO games removed

Avg PPG: 20.2
Avg PPG allowed by defense: 18.2
Net: +2

Brady with top THREE games removed

Avg PPG: 24.3
Avg PPG allowed by defense: 19
Net: +5.3

30 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Potential confounding variables on offensive PPG:

1) Number of offensive drives
2) Starting field position
3) Receiving fumbles
4) Non-QB rushing fumbles
5) Non-QB rushing efficiency
6) Non-QB offensive penalties
7) Dropped passes
8) FG/XP efficiency
9) Opposing defensive penalties
10) Efficiency of coaching decisions (e.g. going for it on 4th down)

52 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I know.

Which do you think made a significant impact over the course of 30 and 25 game samples?

EDIT to add this from below...

Playoff points vs. regular season points:

Manning

Regular season ppg in playoff seasons: 27.7
Playoff PPG: 22.2
Difference: -5.5

Brady

Regular season ppg in playoff seasons: 28.4
Playoff PPG: 26.3
Difference: -2.1

Did any of your factors materialize in the playoffs in ways that they didn't in the players' respective regular seasons?

54 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I don't have the numbers for each, but my hunch is that 1, 2, 5, and 7 had the most impact.

For instance, just took a quick look and while Manning's offenses score 84.4% as much as Brady's offenses per game, they score 87.3% of Brady's offenses per drive. It might not look like much, but that's just one variable that, when controlled, brings the needle closer.

60 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Good post. 5 is probably not a good one to go with unless you mean how well the defense stops the run. The Patriots only occasionally have a rushing attack worth factoring in, and Brady is leaned on for a high percentage of total yards. In fact, I've read that Brady is responsible for the *highest*, but I don't know precisely how that is being measured.

FWIW, Manning's teams scored 97.5% of Brady's squads during playoff regular seasons, so you don't have to bring it up to 100% to make a good argument... but I think you do need to to explain why these factors manifested in larger degrees during the regular season than they did in the playoffs.

Would you mind sharing what the relative per drive scoring % was for playoff regular seasons?

157 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Sorry for the late response. Couldn't figure out how to get past the spam filter.

Good post.

Thanks.

The Patriots only occasionally have a rushing attack worth factoring in

I don't agree with this. They might be sub-par this year due to injuries, but almost every year since 2006 or so, Patriots rushers have been in the top 10 (usually top 5) in DVOA, EPA/P, SR%, and fumble%. The have also been top 10 in Adjusted Line Yards almost every year since the early 2000s. I would be surprised if they were not just as efficient during the postseason.

I think you do need to to explain why these factors manifested in larger degrees during the regular season than they did in the playoffs.

I think you would need to look at the other factors I mentioned to see what else is happening.

162 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

"I don't agree with this."

Nonetheless, it is true. Other than the fumble rate, virtually every other factor you mentioned reflects positively on Brady and how teams defend him than anything about the RB corps. NE has had some terrific *receiving* backs, but only Dillon in 2004 merits mention as a plus runner.

"I think you would need to look at the other factors I mentioned to see what else is happening."

It is entirely possible that outside forces are exaggerating or even causing the disparity, but support for this claim has been decidedly weak. Regarding this reply, if it couldn't be demonstrated that the factors you initially mentioned were bigger factors in the playoffs than they were in the regular season, that should be viewed as at least indicative of the numbers being properly contextualized. At the very least, it eliminates a significant number of possible factors.

165 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Other than the fumble rate, virtually every other factor you mentioned reflects positively on Brady and how teams defend him than anything about the RB corps.

It sounds like you're saying that QBs have a strong impact on how efficient their rushers are. If so, do you have evidence to support that claim? I have never seen any (and I'm guessing the discussion will end here because I don't have any evidence against the claim either).

Also, I know this is just one counterexample, but if your claim were true, wouldn't the Patriots have had worse than a 15.3% DVOA (4th best) and 4.64 ALY (3rd best) in '08 with about the same rushers and efficiency they averaged from '06-'10?

168 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

"Also, I know this is just one counterexample, but if your claim were true, wouldn't the Patriots have had worse than a 15.3% DVOA (4th best) and 4.64 ALY (3rd best) in '08 with about the same rushers and efficiency they averaged from '06-'10?"

Rather than talk about Brady's numbers, this is probably the best illustration of coaching prowess. Do yourself a favor and check the performances of those RBs on other teams. You also have to recognize that, despite Cassel, teams were still far more concerned about Moss/Welker/Gaffney than they were the RBs.

It really isn't that hard to see how much Brady and NE's scheme aids the RBs, just look at Laurence Maroney, who was consistently one of the higher rated RBs by DVOA and success rate, but who was out of the league within months after being traded to Denver.

All that said, this is good ammo for those who claim that Brady benefited from better coaching/scheme than Manning.

179 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

How can I put a percentage on it when I don't know?

The entire nature of this conversation is wheel spinning because even if it was demonstrable that RBs accounted for X% and coaching is Y%, etc. someone could move on to the next factor. Or say that Brady still benefited from a few cherry picked fluke plays.

The fact remains that NE retains a much higher percentage of their scoring in the playoffs than Manning's teams have. And that Manning's numbers are more skewed by a few great wild card performances than Brady's are. If you want to add context, be my guest, but for it to be meaningful you need to show that the factors raised influenced playoff performances in ways that they didn't in the regular season. If this isn't the case, and Manning isn't a contributing factor in his teams' scoring, then you would expect the percentage to remain about the same.

171 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

It is so easy to dispute the claim that great QBs have that effect on their run game. We've seen in many years the run games that complemented Manning, Brees, Rodgers, Ben, Rivers all be terrible and those QBs remain good.

A QB definitely impacts his o-line pass blocking performance, but running game? I think it is more New England being brilliant at coaching and developing lineman.

176 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

That fact that good QBs sometimes have bad running games doesn't mean they don't impact it, it just means that a good QB is no guarantee of running success.

Is it your contention that a team will generally not see a decline in running efficiency as the quarterback quality worsens? Or that defenses aren't more capable of focusing on rushing attacks if they don't have to worry as much about the passing attack?

181 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I think his point is, if good qb play doesn't correlate to run dvoa(and I have run countless regressions on this to verify this fact); then suggesting that its brady thats driving the rush success is weak argument. In fact, I assert that brady has very little to do with it. In perusing some of Pff's grades, its remarkable how many of the linemen are either good at one thing but not the other and very rarely good at both. I suspect teams that pass either have linemen suited for that role or find linemen who fit that role. Teams that rush do the opposite or focus on it more.

Ne is a magical land that seems to foster both; suggesting even more plaudits should go to their coaching staff. In fact, their consistently excellent run games and special teams are pretty much unmatched in dvoa history. I have gone back and looked.

183 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Well, I think Bellichick deserves to be considered the greatest coach in any sport ever. Look, you could argue brady is the greatest qb of al time(not an unreasonable argument); but him alone doesn't give you 4 sbs. If you put him with the browns, they might win a sb or two, but they won't have this kind of sustained success. It really needs that pairing.

185 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

It is odd that as someone who hates the Patriots, as time has gone on, their sustained success has made me grow my respect and admiration for Belichick and the coaching staff more than it did for Brady.

He is coaching at a different level that basically anyone else. I think both coaching staffs this year in the NFC Title Game are fantastic top-to-bottom, same with Baltimore and maybe 1-2 others, but nothing close to BB.

The only modern coach I can compare him with is Popovich.

186 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Its remarkable when you watch and follow the spurs - they just resemble the patriots in so many ways. Hollinger had a great line. "The league has been chasing the spurs for years but still have no idea how they are able to do what they do. And the media is worse, its why they keep predicting the spurs to die and they never do."

I've gone back and forth about which organization has been more impressive.

189 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I'm more impressed with the Spurs (obviously, again, biased), for a few reasons:

1.) The Spurs have been able to stay competitive despite their best player aging and becoming less and less a focal point of the team's play, especially on offense

2.) Despite what people may think about QBs, the NBA is probably the sport where one player can have the most impact, and they've battled for years, really since about 2011, without having a top-10 level player until Leonard took the leap last year

There may be more, and books can be written about comparing them.

31 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I want to wiggle my two cents onto this thread somewhere. While I am a devoted Patriots fan, I have felt ever since around 2004 or so that Manning was probably the better player in a total, statistical, and pragmatic sense. However, Brady's strengths coupled with the flexibility of his schemes and his coaches' approaches have enabled his offense to be more flexible, which often results in better outcomes against good teams, or so it has seemed to me. I recently rewatched the 2009 Super Bowl, and I picked up another observation from that game, which have been an isolated game (I haven't studied a lot of Peyton's other playoff disasters in as much depth). It seemed to me in that game that from somewhere around the beginning of the 4th quarter, that Manning began to press. On several key third downs (including the pick-6) my eye suggested that there were open receivers near the sticks, capable of picking up the YAC to reach the down if you accept some negative ALEX, and that Peyton was striving for the big, game-changing play. It happened enough times in that game, resulting in bad outcomes, that I wondered if Peyton's playoff outcomes at critical moments really had started to systematically deteriorate over the course of his career. It would be absolutely human to suffer from the ghosts of past playoff snafus, and my sense is that this may be the case--that Manning has a greater tendency to press in pressure situations than Brady does. Moreover, resting the final weeks of the season has been a feature of Manning's career and not Brady's. Might that not play into things a bit too? My guess is that there is something subtly systematic about the divergent playoff outcomes.

41 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Oh, no disagreement there. Peyton also has consistently lower sack rates, etc. It's just something I noticed in the 2009 Super Bowl. I'm not sure how well it generalizes. In the 2006 AFC Championship game, Peyton was definitely weaker in the opening quarter than he was in the 3rd and 4th. In the 2003 Championship Game, I thought he played fairly abysmally throughout. In the 2004 game, the Patriots' offense was about the running game, and the Patriots used Peyton's audible tendencies against him. Honestly, I thought some of Peyton's worst playoff performances were against KC and Baltimore in 2006, both games that his team won. One would really have to examine the playoff games thoughtfully and try to run a situational comparison, especially for 3rd down value and close and late to see if there's anything to my observation. It's just a sense I have. Tom has tended to preside over tight finish victories, but obviously, that often has to do with the defense rising up at clutch moments.

43 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

See - it depends how one chooses to look at things. Take that chiefs game. If that pick gets returned for a tying td - it won't change anything on brady's overall resume, but it would give anti-brady crowd more ammo to show hes not clutch. I won't bedgrudge your opinion, but I don't think Manning himself plays poorly in high leverage situations. I think everyone's numbers get worse in the playoffs overall.

63 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

To add to this point, Brady has led a variety of effective offenses. At different times they've bombed it to Randy Moss, attacked the seam with Rob Gronkowski, produced death by a thousand hitches and bubble screens to Welker/Edelman, handed the rock off to Dillon/Blount/pick your RB, turned Shane Vereen into Marshall Faulk, etc. This changes year to year and week to week.

Of course, so much of this is dependent on personnel and good coaching. To me, Brady's strength is that he's open to both. He finds a way to incorporate most every receiver into the offense and he's perfectly satisfied in games where he hands the ball off 40 times. There isn't a signature Patriot offense for teams to game plan for - that's a huge advantage. Since they're not tied to a singular identity, they can let offensive personnel leave in FA and replace them with cheaper alternatives. They're rarely tied to a bloated contract. The team's worst offensive contract I can think of is Aaron Hernandez.

Contrast that with Peyton who's (from my admittedly not as well-educated POV) wanted (required?) his teams to use the same offense for the last 15 years. If I'm not mistaken, this year is the first year that he has not been in a Tom Moore-type offense. Don't get me wrong, it's perhaps the greatest offense of all time due to the length of its dominance (combining Indy and Denver). But this does present disadvantages, namely lack of flexibility and decreased leverage with your skill position talent.

Another byproduct of Peyton's teams spending a significant amount of cap space on receiving talent is that they can't spend it elsewhere on the roster. This is why, when they face off, Brady is usually leading a team that's more well-rounded (though perhaps not as much vs. the Broncos). I'm NOT saying that Brady is paid less than Peyton because that's silly.

Both of these guys have benefitted tremendously from playing with great talent and it's not worth going into a rabbit hole hole of Moss/Gronk/Welker V. Harrison/Wayne/Clark. That being said, Brady has managed to win in more ways than one and, to me, that's the biggest difference between the two. I don't know that it makes him "better", but it definitely has contributed to the Patriots reaching 10 conference championships during his career.

28 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

There's a lot of good and subtle debating points to be had with Brady vs Manniong. Lots of thoughts on stylistic preferences, teammate contributions, coaching, situations etc etc. I've enjoyed some productive discussions with pats fans on this.

Unfortunately, it all gets debased when both sides twist arguments in one direction or the other. In earlier threads, I nearly(ok did) get sucked into one such argument with a brady fan. It detracts from the conversation when one side declares the debate "over." This debate isn't over even if brady or Manning wins the next sb. Seriously, if anyone thinks its obvious who is the better qb - then that person should be on a different site.

112 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I don't even know what fourthandgoal is agreeing to, because the formatting in the comments section is a little funky (just look at the indented mess above).

But I can't help that I get more and more jaded about the NFL each season. I'm actually happy Seattle lost in Carolina, because if this turned into a SB run, we would always point to Blair Walsh missing a pretty easy 27-yard field goal as the breaking point in a freakin' wild-card game. You should have been 0-1 only scoring 10 points, but here's a 4-0 SB run. So thankful we're spared of that one, and I think people know I like Wilson.

I didn't write this to talk about which QB is better in the playoffs or overall. I wrote it because I'm sick of the playoff records overtaking the playoff performances.

Take the active group of Brady, Ben, Flacco, Peyton, Rodgers, Brees and Wilson. Maybe we can add Luck, Cam, Romo, Eli and a few more to this, but I'm not as certain yet. Put these quarterbacks in playoff games on a consistent basis and I believe they can all give you generally good performances (everyone has off days). Good stats. They'll also have their team in a position to win most of the games.

So what actually decides who wins the game and who loses? When Flacco forces a game-ending interception in NE last year, that's easy to pin on him. But when it's the 2011 AFC Championship Game, he did his job. Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff didn't. That won't get reflected in his W-L record, but it matters.

All I'm saying is we can keep track of these things. There aren't that many playoff games (523 in history to this point). We only have a fraction available in good video with easy access to, but every game these days gets charted. Of course it can be done for the regular season too, but we know more importance gets placed on the postseason, so start there.

What's more objective than standardized tracking of each game and applying the same concepts to each player?

Am I crazy for equating Manning setting up field-goal attempts of 49 and 46 yards in Miami and a dome in early-round playoff games to Brady setting up Vinatieri for kicks of 46 and 45 yards in a blizzard and freezing cold in early-round playoff games at home? Am I crazy for equating the 35-28 lead Manning gave Denver over Baltimore and watching Rahim Moore blow it to the 23-20 lead Brady led his team to over Baltimore and watching Sterling Moore save the day in the end zone?

Two kicks by top kickers, two pass targets by defenders named Moore. There's your main difference between 22-8 and 12-13. That's what I wrote about here.

Both quarterbacks can often get you to a point where the game can be won, but which one will see his team close the deal? You think Manning's defense gets an interception at the 1-yard line from Wilson? Denver couldn't even stop Seattle in overtime when it played them last year. Fittingly, a Lynch run ended that one.

I'd be a lot more kind to Brady's playoff career if he was the one making the decisive plays more often instead of the Vinatieri field goals and big interceptions we'll always remember. Instead some of the most significant Brady plays are the Tuck Rule and Marlon McCree. That's not a positive.

114 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Gosh, why is being jaded about the NFL a factor in seeing Seattle lose to Carolina? I think among the most fun things about Seattle winning the Super Bowl this year would have been that they were losing 9-0 in the 4th quarter of a Wild Card Game, and needed a pull hooked chip shot in the closing seconds to win it! Why the lack of enthusiam for men yielding blood, sweat, and tears, in titanic, violent, struggles, which are decided by random, chaotic, out of the blue events!? Baby, that's what I call entertainment, and tell me The Gods are not pleased!

129 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

As much as I root for whoever is playing the Steelers, I think they would have been even more crazy to win it all, more like a Giants Super Bowl run crazy. Not only did they need the insanity/stupidity of the Bengals defense to pull out the wild card game, they needed a Kembrell Thompkins drop to even be in the playoffs: http://www.buffalobills.com/video/videos/Bills-Mario-Butler-knocks-away-Jets-Kenbrell-Thompkins-chance-to-save-the-game/d565bceb-daad-48db-a935-2f5d280b29ac

I totally expected the Steelers to pull off a Super Bowl run because of those two games, as glad as I am they finally lost.

115 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Yeah, those are similar plays, but you are ignoring lucky plays for Manning and unlucky plays for Brady.

For example, if Jeff Saturday doesn't recover Rhodes' fumble in the end zone in the 2006 AFC Championship game, Manning likely never wins the Super Bowl that year. If Rodney Harrison breaks up David Tyree's reception then Brady probably has another Super Bowl win.

In order to prove your point, you'd have to show that more of these breaks went to Brady than they did to Manning. This very well may be true, but I think it would be pretty hard to show.

123 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

"For example, if Jeff Saturday doesn't recover Rhodes' fumble in the end zone in the 2006 AFC Championship game, Manning likely never wins the Super Bowl that year."

In the first quarter of that game, Brady was charged with a fumble on a handoff that squirted into the end zone and was recovered by Logan Mankins for a TD. Rhodes fumbled on his own at the 1-yard line. If New England recovered, they likely would have been at the 1-yard line with 13:24 to play in a 28-21 game. Maybe they win, maybe they don't. Lots of time left, which is why my examples are with a far more certain win probability change just from changing one play.

"In order to prove your point, you'd have to show that more of these breaks went to Brady than they did to Manning. This very well may be true, but I think it would be pretty hard to show."

Look, unless I'm going to recap every single game -- I should just do this some day on my blog -- I don't get the space to write that much, but I know analytically that is the case here. I have every game researched, though I'm still waiting for a full copy of Manning's first playoff game vs. 1999 Titans to nail down a few specifics of that one. I have at least seen the Marvin Harrison dropped pass on 3rd-and-22 that would have gained a first down.

For reference, 10 of Manning's 13 playoff losses were close games in the 4Q. Only four of Brady's 8 losses were, so he's already had more losses without a 4QC/GWD attempt. Brady has the 9 GWDs and NE is 11-3 at holding a one-score lead in the playoffs. Manning has 2 GWDs and his defense is 6-6 at holding a one-score lead, which is just awful. They were 5-6 before Sunday.

200 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

"Manning['s] defense is 6-6 at holding a one-score lead, which is just awful."

I think arguments like this are much more effective at making your point than pointing to some plays that hurt Manning or helped Brady. Although, I can understand if that doesn't make for a good article for a place like ESPN.

A couple questions though:

1. Are you taking into account how much time is left that it is necessary for the defense to hold the lead? If Manning is scoring with more time left than average, then you would expect his defense to do worse than average at holding the lead.

2. Are you considering games where Manning gets the ball back on offense in that 6-6 record? Clearly if the offense has the ball you can't blame a failure to hold the lead entirely on the defense.

201 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I have stuff calculated for each drive that I didn't get to use in this article, but will use on FO next time. I did show a table in here of what each QB did in the 4Q with a one-score lead, and Brady's numbers are definitely worse which follows the regular-season trend of him not being as good as you'd expect with a one-score lead.

Which just makes Doug Pederson sound even sillier.

117 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Your argument is fine if you are trying to say that win loss can be misleading so we can make no determination as to which QB is better from it. It isn't valid if you are trying to demonstrate that Manning is the better QB and using these plays as evidence that his record is suppressed due to bad luck. To make the latter claim, you need to demonstrate that the "luck" for both QBs was even prior to plays at the end.

For instance, Manning threw a game sealing pick against Pitt that was erroneously overturned and he benefited from a Bettis fumble on the goal line as the Steelers were salting the game away. Neither of those plays was any less meaningful than the shank at the end and he had no direct impact on either.

120 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I was agreeing with theslothook that it isn't obvious who the better QB is, although I'd give Manning a very slight edge. And while I agree with the article and most of the posters here that W-L is a poor measure of a quarterback, the implication here and in pretty much everything I've seen Scott say about the topic is that it is obvious. Living in a place where I frequently have to deal with irrational NE fans who cherry pick data points, it seems to me that his writing on the topic does likewise, albeit in the other direction.

122 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Scott has a Manning GOAT and Manning >> Brady mindset and has produced a not insubstantial body of work in that regard.

I've said at least a few times here (but not for a long time, as this thread subject has been dormant), IMO Manning has had a better statistical career than Brady. I never thought Brady would get anywhere close to that statistical level, and as a fan it has been fun to watch his development and success since 2007 - it's been a good ride which will end soon. IMO Manning top 3 GOAT and Brady closing in on top 5. Manning's dive off the cliff this year has made it more difficult (at least for newer fans) to remember his heights. The perception of the two is a bit skewed at this point and many in the media are ready to bury PM, but if Denver wins Sunday his media star will rise again.

131 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

"Instead some of the most significant Brady plays are the Tuck Rule and Marlon McCree. That's not a positive."

Here Scott demonstrates his complete inability to be objective when discussing Brady/Manning. He's hoping that you won't look at what happened after each of those two plays. Brady played extremely well in the 4th quarter and OT of the Raiders game, both before and after the Tuck Rule call, which was made correctly. Even after the Tuck Rule, the Patriots still had to drive for the game-tying and game-winning scores. Against San Diego, after the McCree fumble, Brady produced a TD drive, with a 2pt conversion, and a GW field goal drive to win the game. Sure, he caught a couple breaks, but he also took advantage of them. Why do people like Kacsmar always try to deny this? Brady's performance at the conclusion of those two games should absolutely be considered a positive when evaluating his career.

And he tries to minimize the significance of Brady's Super Bowl winning drives against the Rams and Panthers, but in each case, Brady had very little time left on the clock. It makes no sense to argue that as time is running out in the Super Bowl. Brady should have passed up a FG and tried to get it in the end zone. Also, Scott likes to use the WC game from January 2011, when the Jets beat the Colts, as an example of a great clutch drive by Manning. But the score that put the Colts ahead late was a Vinatieri FG, just like the ones he had for New England in the Super Bowls. So Vinatieri FGs are only clutch when Manning is the QB, right Scott?

136 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I think you miss the point here. In those two instances, a bad play by Brady was bailed out by a lucky call. Not so for Manning in most cases. I think the fact that Brady wins his fourth SB simply because of a combination of bone headed play calling and a NE defender jumping the route is a great example of how much is beyond the control of the QB. I don;t think Scott is saying Brady is bad, he's making the point that his team mates and coaches have risen to the occasion when, in Manning's case, they often have not. Another clear example - in the 2009 SB, if Hank Baskett recovers an onside kick that goes through his hands, the Colts start with great field position and already up. Since he doesn't and the Colts immediately surrender a score, Manning is forced to play aggressive offensive football the entire second half. Outside of the pick 6, Manning was playing great and would likely have had not only a second SB, but also a second game MVP.

137 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

This is why it's completely pointless to rate players by picking out a handful of plays from their career, and then talking about what might have happened differently. But I don't agree that Manning doesn't get lucky. Look at his stats from the 2006 SB run. He won because his defense, running game, and special teams largely carried him to the title. If you think Brady won the SB only because of the Butler INT, then I guess you weren't watching when Brady led 2 fourth quater TD drives, or when Seattle got the incredibly lucky catch by Jermaine Kearse. This is what I don't get about Manning's fans. They like to cherry pick the cases where Brady caught a break, without putting those situations into proper context. It's because they can't admit to themselves that Brady has deserved to have more success than Manning in the postseason.

There are 4 main reasons why Brady's teams have won more postseason games

1. Brady's stats are as good as, or better than Manning's in the playoffs. The gap widens significantly when you remove Wild Card games, of which Brady has only played 3 in his entire career.
2. Brady has succeeded 9 times in 12 GWD opportunities in the postseason, Manning just twice in 10 tries.
3. Brady's teams outscore Manning's by more than 4 ppg in the playoffs, and Brady is still ahead even if you remove safeties and points scored by the defense and special teams, like kickoff return TDs. Brady's teams also outscore Manning's by points per drive.
4. Brady has consistently produced fewer turnovers than Manning in playoff games, and has never had a postseason INT returned for a TD.

These are the facts people like Kacsmar never talk about, because they want you to think Manning is better in the playoffs than he really is.

140 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Brady ... has never had a postseason INT returned for a TD.

Ugh. Talk about THE most teammate- and context-dependent single fact anybody has produced in this thread. I hope Tom Brady pays Ben Watson a dime for every single time this is brought up as an example of Brady's tres awesomeness.

142 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Are you trying to deny that QBs typically lose when they throw pick sixes? And Brady lost the game in Denver, so how does that help the argument that Brady WINS because of his teammates? It doesn't. It's very telling to me that you didn't take issue with any of the other points I made, none of which indicate that Manning has matched Brady's performance in the playoffs.