Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Jan 2016

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.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 20 Jan 2016

233 comments, Last at 26 Jan 2016, 4:28pm by Eleutheria


by Bobman :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 3:41pm

"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.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 3:43pm

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.

by Ryan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 3:45pm

Who even wants to bother with this anymore

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:10pm

Anything which can illustrate the idiocy of using playoff w-l records as a means of evaluating individual performance is welcome.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:10pm

Anything which can illustrate the idiocy of using playoff w-l records as a means of evaluating individual performance is welcome.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:09pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:15pm

Yes, you could. The point is that you are an idiot to think that playoff w-l records are a useful metric in evaluating individual performance. We're talking Phil Simms stupid. That's really, really, really, stupid. Really. Stupid.

(edit) Really.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:31pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:48pm

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.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:01pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:06pm

It's 30 data points, created by a gigantic number of variables, not two seasons worth of information. That's ridiculous.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:13pm

The fact that the teams have different makeups other than the quarterback is beneficial to the analysis. The competition likely averages out to average playoff competition.

Thirty data points is not a lot, but it's also not nothing.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:20pm

Yeah, it's nothing, if the goal is to develop conclusions with some degree of confidence.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:25pm

1% confidence level is still some degree of confidence.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:27pm


by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:31pm

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.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:37pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:45pm

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.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:54pm

Samples drawn from changing distributions cannot be compared even if you think the variables (even) out.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:59pm

This entire thread gives insight as to why macroeconomics is a great field to work in, if never being proven wrong is something you value.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:03pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:14pm

Oh, I love it, too. It is also a field, however, where deliberate, or perhaps just reflexive, intellectual charlatanism, can find very fertile ground, in the absence of vigilance.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:57pm

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.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:01pm

I'll just say this, if you tried submitting correlations like this for a paper - no one would take it seriously, because its overwhelmed by ommitted variables and violations of needed statistical assumptions.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:03pm

I don't think anything that anyone's done on this site would be publishable in a journal.

That doesn't mean this site lacks value.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:04pm

let me rephrase. The methodology for making the comparison is wrong.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:11pm

Do you have a quantitative background?

If so, I'd like to hear what's wrong with my methodology.

My background is in physics not statistics, so it's possible there's something I'm not considering.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:21pm

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.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:31pm

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%.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:35pm

If I knew nothing about the sport or topic in question - yes I would pick the .700. I could be right, but I could also be extremely wrong so I would have no faith in it.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:35pm

So are you saying that the experiment that I propose in 44 will not give you an accurate confidence level for concluding that a .700 quarterback is better than a .500 quarterback? I can agree with that, but it should at least give you an estimate on the confidence level. Right?

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:45pm

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.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:50pm

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.

by LyleNM :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:55pm

But if you didn't have any other information than .250 and .300, and you were forced to choose, you'd say the .300 hitter is better.

If "forced to choose", the correct answer is, "I don't have enough information."

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:59pm

What if I told you that you would win $500 dollars if the hitter you picked had a higher average next season?

You'd say, "I don't have enough information."?

by LyleNM :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:02pm

Well, a coin flip is better odds than the lottery at least.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:09pm

I never said you had to put up any money. It's free money. But I think you'd be foolish to pick the .250 guy.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:11pm

Very,very, very, trivially foolish. Which is kinda' not foolish at all.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:03pm

If those batting averages were based upon 30 at bats, I'd probably ask to see a video of their swing, and if I could make my bet based on that, because I'd consider 30 at bats to be about the same as a coin flip.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:12pm

Well, lacking video of the swing, I think you should go with the .300 hitter.

Thirty at bats is better than a coin flip. We can even quantify how much better it is.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:12pm

Not necessarily...

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:31pm

Well you should be able to quantify it if you have the number of at bats and the varianace.

by tuluse :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:02pm

Good thing we have more information than just W/L numbers.

by billsfan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:33pm

Football is a perfectly valid subject for publishing:


(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:


by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:09pm

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.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:14pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:22pm

If you were using the data from 30 playoff games, that might be a good point. You are only using "w" or "l", and we really don't know how much qb perormance went into producing that data point, and over 15 years, we now have increased the number of variables.

by LyleNM :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:26pm

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.

by tuluse :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:34pm

Alex Smith has a .625 winning percentage the last two years and Philip Rivers has a .406.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:39pm

But how many pairs of quarterbacks can you find that their records disagree with the consensus opinion on who's better?

Again, I don't think that a quarterback record over 30 games is definitive, but it's also not nothing.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:37pm

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.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:41pm

Yes. I never said it was near 95%.

I only said it was probably not 95% because 95% is considered definitive, and I wasn't positive that it was not 95%.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:44pm

Btw, here confidence means something very subtle. Its saying, we are x % confident that the true value lies in some range. But if that range is massive( ie swings from hugely positive to hugely negative); then we can't really be sure what the true value is at all.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:07pm

Yeah, you can come up with a p-value for the mean of some distribution being higher than the mean of another distribution.

We're comparing two distributions right? So we're not really talking about a confidence interval. Maybe the word confidence is misleading.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:11pm

We're comparing two samples being drawn from different distributions, but pretending like both are being drawn from the same distributions.

by tuluse :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:14pm

Actually aren't you talking about 60 samples drawn from 60 different distributions?

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:15pm

For the sake of brevity TULUSE!!!

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:15pm

For the sake of brevity TULUSE!!!

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:25pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:40pm

Absent knowledge of how much to weight all those other variables, it says nothing, or the something is so trivial in terms of confidence that it may as well be nothing, and really unworthy of mention as something which can illuminate the issue we are examining.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:48pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:53pm

Hey, we live in world where Phil Simms is allowed to talk to millions of people at once! Why do you hate humanity so!?

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:57pm

Fouts was arguably worse than Phil a week ago.

by duh :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:01pm

He was unbelievably bad. To the point of gee Dan it is time to hang up your mike.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:23pm

Oh, I agree. Phil's idiocy is transmitted with a voice that is ideally suited for the hearing impaired, however, whereas Dan's blockheaded nature is packaged with a more (marginally) mellifluous tone.

by PatsFan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 9:18pm

There's really no purpose to this reply other than see if the column width can be forced to narrow further.

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:01pm


by gormleymp :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:04pm

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.

by Joshua Northey :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:16pm

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?

by bmay :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:31pm

But the last 5 years have been clearly better for the Brady side of the argument

How so?

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:04pm

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.

by bmay :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:30pm

Which numbers are you looking at for 2011-2015?

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:19pm

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.

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:55pm

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.

by bmay :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:13pm

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.

by billsfan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:35pm

Right now, I'd take Brady with Manning's defense. Used to be the other way around.

by BroncFan07 :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:18pm

I've always wondered why Tony Carter doesn't share equal blame with Rahim Moore. I guess because his role wasn't as obvious.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:47pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:58pm

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.

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:10pm

Hard to meaningfully debate any topic when the beliefs of some/many debaters are based in large part on unshakable faith.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:15pm

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.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:11pm

"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?

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:16pm

Yep. Sorry.

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:30pm

Then I bet you're a Myers-Briggs S.

I'm an N (INTJ to be specific). I think that's why we're disagreeing about the value of a purely conceptual metric.

by BJR :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 6:02am

Completely agree. It was always tedious (especially the veering off into what-if? scenarios) and why anybody would want to retread this battered ground now is beyond me.

by eggwasp :: Fri, 01/22/2016 - 9:23am

There's no need to bring Joe Montana into this Will

by billsfan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:47pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:53pm

What does it tell you?

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:58pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 9:11pm

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.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 9:36pm

I still think another coach w cassel and that roster probably does a lot worse. Also ne was going to regress on pass o anyways.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 9:46pm

Perhaps. As for regression, NE averaged ~60% passing DVOA the two years following Brady's return, which appears to indicate the drop wasn't going to be substantial.

by Eleutheria :: Tue, 01/26/2016 - 4:28pm

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:

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 9:05pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:15pm

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. :)


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


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

by bmay :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:28pm

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)

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:04pm

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:


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


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?

by bmay :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:09pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:22pm

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?

by bmay :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:41am

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

Good post.


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.

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 12:08pm

"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.

by bmay :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 12:58pm

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?

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:11pm

"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.

by bmay :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:19pm

I agree that RBs were much better on NE than non-NE teams, but how much of that difference can be explained by their QB vs. OL vs. coach/scheme? And what quantitative evidence is there to back up your allocation of credit?

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:21pm

"how much of that difference can be explained by their QB vs. OL vs. coach/scheme?"

I don't know. My only point thus far is that NE's RBs haven't been worthy of being considered an advantage over Manning's teams.

by bmay :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:27pm

Can you try to put a percentage on each? Otherwise, it feels like we're just spinning our wheels with this discussion.

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:53pm

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.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:22pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:46pm

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?

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:53pm

My contention is that the quality of the QB has little correlation with the quality of the running game

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:55pm

This is not necessarily the same claim as what I said.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 2:13pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 2:13pm

I said the same above:

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

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 2:37pm

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.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 2:49pm

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.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 2:59pm

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.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:13pm

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.

by PaddyPat :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:30pm

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.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:43pm

Just a word - historically, according to pff - pm has peformed better under pressure than Brady - though that is PFF

by PaddyPat :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:51pm

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.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:56pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:02pm

Playoff points vs. regular season points:


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


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

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:05pm

The anya drop from brady in the playoffs is worse than it is for Peyton Manning. But again, I hate making judgements on playoff games to begin with.

by Snack Flag :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:27pm

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.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:25pm

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.

by ChrisS :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:37pm

As a pointed out above a large problem is that "better" is subjective and unless an agreed upon objective measure is used then all debate is futile (unless the debaters agreed before the debate started).

by fourthandgoal :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:32pm

As someone relatively new to the site, I completely agree with this and have been really disappointed by this kind of analysis from Scott. On this topic he seems far more similar to the irrational fans than to an objective analyst.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:49pm

I don't have insider so I can't agree or disagree.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:04pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:34pm

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!

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 12:19am

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-...

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.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 12:32am

The more weird, the better, sez I!

by blan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:42pm

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.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:32pm

"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.

by blan :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 5:18pm

"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.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 5:20pm

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.

by hscer :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:41pm

Both teams scored on offensive fumble recoveries in 06. Just one weird thing about that game out of many.

The luckiest play of that whole run for Manning may have been, ironically, the McCree play. Without it, Indianapolis has to travel to San Diego where I'm not sure they win.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:50pm

That game was the first and only time I remember rooting for NE. And started to switch after the mcCree play and challenge. I knew Marty was going to get ramrodded for that loss - which he did.

by PatsFan :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 8:13am

Not a play, but probably the luckiest break of all for Indy was a good fraction of the NE defensive starters coming down with norovirus (or something similar) by game time.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:47pm

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.

by fourthandgoal :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:01pm

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.

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:15pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:43pm

Just for the pure entertainment of the spectacle of meatheads making foolish arguments, I hope the Broncos win, in a game where neither qb has an especially good performance.

by ramirez :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 12:57am

"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?

by clipper :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 8:53am

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.

by ramirez :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 9:16am

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.

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 9:56am

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:05am

I agree that's a terrible argument and ramirez's post would be better without it...

but now that Champ Bailey has come out and said he thought it was a touchback, does that mean Brady was unlucky there? :)

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:22am

Brady was ... something ... there. Unlucky isn't the word I'd use.

Watson was unlucky there. That was the single greatest play I've ever seen where the outcome was to set the opponent up on the goal line.

by ramirez :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:07am

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.

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:19am

It's very telling to me that you didn't take issue with any of the other points I made

I'm now oddly curious to know what it tells you.

by ramirez :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:36am

All i"m trying to do is get them to concede that the reasons I provided were valid. Instead of doing that, they said that my point about pick sixes was a bad one, but it wasn't. The point is that not only has Brady turned the ball over less often than Manning, but that the particular turnovers he has created have been less costly than many of Manning's. I think that helps my argument, and it's a point no one else has acknowledged.

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:59am

Fair enough, but the point about pick-sixes doesn't enhance your argument. All it does is bring to mind a Brady interception which is about as costly as it's possible for an interception to be, all-but-directly taking points away from New England and setting the opponent up on the goal line. Tom Brady doesn't become a worse quarterback, or any less/more* superior/inferior* to Peyton Manning, if Ben Watson doesn't sprint 100 yards toward his own goal line or Champ Bailey doesn't slow down on a chilly night in Denver ten years ago.

And that's only one specific example of how random the outcomes are for interception returns.

(*delete according to preference)

by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:20am

Less costly? ramirez, do some research for a change instead of looking at totals.

I wrote this before the 2013 AFC Championship Game and most of it still stands. Manning had a bad early pick against Seattle. He had the pick-six against Seattle on a hit-as-he-threw play that you'd be silly to say was mostly his fault. Fumbled in the 4Q down 43-8 (garbage time). Bad strip-sack early vs. Colts last year. And that's it for new plays. Brady threw four INTs total in last year's SB run. They came when the games were still close/early. Picked at the 1 vs. Indy. Bad red-zone pick vs. Seattle, then another INT in 3rd QT when trailing.

Both quarterbacks have 22 interceptions in the playoffs. Brady has 115 more attempts, but studying all 44 plays show some key differences.

Brady has 18 bad throws and 4 tipped balls. On the tips, one was tipped at the line, one hit Donte Stallworth in one hand, one hit Sam Aiken high in one hand and another practically got Ben Watson killed in 2009. Two picks were thrown desperately in the fourth quarter with the Patriots trailing 27-13 (2005 Denver) and 28-13 (2012 Ravens). That’s still not garbage time yet as one score sets up an onside kick opportunity in a one-score game either way. Brady was at the Baltimore 22 on last year’s pick.

Manning has 15 bad throws, two QB/WR miscommunications with Marvin Harrison (both vs. Ty Law/2006 Chiefs) and five tipped balls. On the tips, one hit Marcus Pollard’s hand too high, one hit Reggie Wayne in the hands high, one deflected right off Kenton Keith’s hands deep in the red zone, one hit Eric Decker and the refs missed the defensive pass interference and one last week hit Decker in the chest and was deflected and caught in the end zone by San Diego. Three of Manning’s picks were in obvious garbage time: down 34-0 vs. Jets (4Q), down 41-0 vs. Jets (4q), down 20-3 vs. 2004 Patriots (12 seconds left). Against the 2006 Ravens, he threw a bomb on 3rd-and-17 with a 12-6 lead that was intercepted by Ed Reed. That served as a punt.

Each quarterback has had one interception fumbled back to them. Manning’s came in 2009 (BAL) with a 17-3 lead in the 3rd quarter. Brady’s came in 2006 (SD) with the Patriots down 21-13 and 6:16 left in the 4th quarter.

Luck Advantage: Brady

Each quarterback has had a turnover on the field reversed to an incomplete pass. Brady’s was the fumble that introduced us to the Tuck Rule against the Raiders in 2001. Without the call, the game would have been over with Rich Gannon taking knees. Manning’s was in 2005 against Pittsburgh on a Troy Polamalu interception overturned to an incompletion. Manning still trailed 21-10 with 5:26 left. Manning also lost a fumble last season against the Ravens on a very similar play to the Tuck Rule, but did not get that call in the last possible case it could have been used before the NFL removed it this offseason.

Luck Advantage: Brady.

Brady turned the ball over three times at home in the first quarter alone in an ugly 2009 loss to the Ravens. Manning threw three interceptions at home against the 2006 Chiefs, but still completed 30-of-38 passes (including a spike and one drop) in a 23-8 win.

Oh, and which quarterback threw four interceptions in the 2003 AFC Championship? When watching the game (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x10ejqw_which-qb-threw-four-interceptio...), felt like both, but only one defense took advantage.

Brady has four red-zone interceptions. All four were bad/forced throws. Manning has five red-zone interceptions. The last three all deflected off his receiver and the very first came when he trailed 41-0 in 2002 (Jets) and had the ball at the 19.

Manning has thrown three pick-sixes in the playoffs, including last year’s botched no-call. Brady has none, because Ben Watson tracked down Champ Bailey to the 1-yard line and prevented a 100-yard return in 2005.

Brady has 10 fumbles (3 lost) in the playoffs. Manning has 5 fumbles (2 lost). Fumble Luck Advantage: Brady

Manning’s first lost fumble was a handoff on a running play to Joseph Addai in Super Bowl XLI. The Bears recovered. Brady is credited with a botched handoff fumble in the 2006 AFC Championship in Indy. The Patriots recovered it for a touchdown. Fumble Luck Advantage: Brady.

Brady only had 3 INTs when he started 10-0 in the playoffs, but clearly that part of his game has changed and he’s always been as or more likely to have a bad turnover in a close game or in the red zone than Manning in the playoffs.

by ramirez :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:35am

Why is it more lucky for Brady to benefit from the tuck rule, a call that was made correctly, than it is for manning to benefit from the call on the Polamalu pick, which was a terrible call? The NFL later admitted the Polamalu reversal was the wrong call, how do you explain that?

I don't get the analytics community. It's full of people like Kacsmar and his lackeys, who claim to draw conclusions based upon stats and evidence, but are in reality some of the most deluded fanboys I've ever encountered. Kacsmar refuses to apply the same standards to Brady's career and achievements that he applies to Manning's, and it severely hurts his credibility as a football analyst.

If you apply fair and consistent standards to both QBs, you'll see that Brady has outperformed Manning in the playoffs, though I'll agree it's not by a gigantic margin.

by hscer :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:59am

Manning's 2 luckiest breaks came in a single game his team *lost anyway* thanks to the "idiot kicker." Is there really a better demonstration of that side of the luck argument?

I, too, tend to believe that "Brady has outperformed Manning in the playoffs, though...not by a gigantic margin." Although, it would be hard for me (or anyone really) to still think that if Brady were 9-13 in the playoffs, even though you can get him there without changing a single thing he actually did: https://twitter.com/hscer/status/689461727763689476

by Toner :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:13pm

Here's the tuck rule: "any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble."

Here's the video without any players talking over it: http://www.nfl.com/videos/new-england-patriots/0ap2000000146416/The-Tuck...

The ball stops moving forward and actually starts moving backwards when it was hit, meaning the ball was tucked before possession was lost. The reversal was incorrect.

by clipper :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:00am

I think you forget the most obvious reason, which is more important than your four reasons. Bill Belicheck has coached avery one of Brady's games while Manning has been coached by Jim Mora (never successful), Tony Dungy (fired by Tampa for being too conservative), Jim Caldwell (zombie sideline coach), John Fox, and Gary Kubiak, both of which have been derided as being too conservative. To me, this is the biggest problem with trying to compare the two. No formula can actually take into account the coaching differences.

BTW...maybe I overstated the fact the Brady won his 4th SB simply because of a game ending INT. However, the fact is that his team was on the verge of losing and he had no control...and yet still one. This has happened at least three times for Brady - tuck rule (which no one had heard about before and had rarely if ever been applied), McCree's INT/fumble, and Wilson's INT. I may be wrong, but I can't remember a single instance this has happened for Manning.

by clipper :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:00am

I think you forget the most obvious reason, which is more important than your four reasons. Bill Belicheck has coached avery one of Brady's games while Manning has been coached by Jim Mora (never successful), Tony Dungy (fired by Tampa for being too conservative), Jim Caldwell (zombie sideline coach), John Fox, and Gary Kubiak, both of which have been derided as being too conservative. To me, this is the biggest problem with trying to compare the two. No formula can actually take into account the coaching differences.

BTW...maybe I overstated the fact the Brady won his 4th SB simply because of a game ending INT. However, the fact is that his team was on the verge of losing and he had no control...and yet still one. This has happened at least three times for Brady - tuck rule (which no one had heard about before and had rarely if ever been applied), McCree's INT/fumble, and Wilson's INT. I may be wrong, but I can't remember a single instance this has happened for Manning.

by ramirez :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:15am

I really don't know how to get through to Manning's fans. They simply WILL NOT apply the same standards to manning that they apply to Brady. Dungy's an idiot coach? He turned Tampa from a laughingstock into a Super Bowl contender, and TB won the Super Bowl the year after he left, with mostly the same players. Then he took the Colts to a SB win in 2006, and we've already covered the fact that Manning doesn't deserve much credit, given how bad his stats were in the 2006 playoffs. Manning's best successes came under Dungy, one of the most successful coaches in modern NFL history. That's an indisputable fact.

The Tuck Rule had been applied before the Raiders game, and the call was made correctly. Look it up for yourself if you don't believe me. Your claims about the McCree fumble and the Tuck Rule, as I've explained above, are wrong. Brady still had to lead his team from behind after both of those plays, and without an outstanding performance by Brady down the stretch, the Patriots don't win those games. I know you won't acknowledge those facts, but they're true.

Brady has caught a few breaks, just like Manning, but Brady has more often taken advantage of those breaks with strong late-game performances. I don't think clipper is being objective and neutral when he argues otherwise.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:30pm

"Brady has caught a few breaks, just like Manning, but Brady has more often taken advantage of those breaks with strong late-game performances"

This is anectodal, but here's the difference. You mention the Tuck Rule, even if it was applied correctly, it was somewhat lucky. Please don't try to tell me Brady knew he was tucking it. He clearly thought judging by his reaction the game was over.

Manning's biggest break, arguably came against Pittsburgh with either the Polamalu interception being overturned, or the Bettis fumble.

In both cases the QB drove the team in tough field goal range. Brady left Vinatieri a 45-yarder in a blizzard. Manning left Vanderjagt a 48-yarder in a dome. Both needed the FG to get to OT. Vinatieri makes it. Vanderjagt misses about as bad as you can.

Both QBs did the exact same thing. THe kickers didn't.

I would never argue Manning has been a better playoff QB than Brady. I would argue he's been about as good, but he has gotten the worst luck in playoff history. They both have played quite well for QBs in the playoffs (both well below their regular season level). Brady's team has a better record partly because of events Brady had no say on.

by ramirez :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:08pm

You need to go back to my original post here. The point Scott made that I took exception to is when he said that the McCree game against SD, and the tuck rule game are negative examples for Brady career. What Scott is trying to argue is that the fact that brady caught breaks negates his strong play after that point in the game. If we apply this standard to Manning's best playoff comeback, the 2006 semifinal against NE, we would also conclude that it counts as an example of Manning getting lucky. Before the Colts came back, they caught 2 huge breaks. Saturday recoverd a fumble for a TD, and Caldwell dropped a sure TD pass when the Colts left him open in the end zone. So if Brady can't take credit for his comebacks against Oakland and San Diego, Manning can't take credit for winning the AFC champ against NE.

But of course, Kacsmar doesn't apply that standard to both players. He's trying to take away credit from Brady for his comebacks, but still give Manning credit for his big comeback. That's a grossly unfair double standard, and that's why Scott is wrong. In all 3 cases, I believe the QB deserves significant credit for leading a comeback.

hscer says that if you change a few plays in Brady's career, he has a losing playoff record. So what? I could just as easily say that if you change 3 plays in Brady's career, he has 6 rings, and a chance to get a 7th against Rex Grossman. So should I rate Brady as though he has 7 rings? Of course not. The what-if game is endless, and largely meaningless.

The other guy said that Manning is the unluckiest QB in playoff history. Kacsmar has made the same claim, but it's a fabrication. We've covered how in the 2005 game againt Pittsburgh, Manning received a huge dose of good luck. So you can't count that one. What about his other losses? What were the unlucky things that cost him the game against Tennessee, or the game from 2000 against Miami? Vanderjagt missed a long FG, but long field goal attempts don't count when Brady does it, remember? What about the 41-0 loss to the Jets? I guess Peyton got REALLY unlucky in that one. The 2003 loss to NE? Manning threw 4 picks. When other QBs do that, theyre ripped apart for playing terribly. But when Peyton throws 4 picks, he's "unlucky".

What about the 2004 loss to the Pats, when one of the highest scoring teams in NFL history scored an embarrassing 3 points? In the 2007 loss to the Chargers, Manning played much better, but I still don't see what was unlucky about it. In the Saints Super Bowl, Manning blew a chance to win the game by throwing a pick six. That's not bad luck. I think he was a little unlucky to lose to the Jets in 2010, but if you're not going to give credit to Brady for game winning Vinatieri FGs, you can't give Manning credit for one, either. You can't have it both ways. In 2012, Manning threw another killer INT. In the Seattle game, Manning played like garbage, and the highest scoring team produced 8 garbage time points. That's embarrassing. In 2014, the Broncos got outplayed.

So the claim that Manning always loses because of bad luck, or even most of the time, is just not true.

I'm stunned by how irrational the Manning fans in the stat community are (not all of them). It genuinely has the feel of a cult. If you don't worship at the altar of the great Peyton Manning, you're shouted down and treated like a crackpot. But the arguments Kacsmar and his friends make for Manning are irrational and unconvincing. They remind me of the Tebow fanboys, who could never admit that that Tebow was never anything more than an average NFL QB. It's sad, and truly pathetic.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:26pm

I'll shred this to pieces tomorrow. We won't have an AFC Championship preview on time if I do it now.

I'll only respond to your last paragraph right now. It's not a cult. It's people who actually are paying attention to the games and seeing what the QB is doing. If I tied your ass down A Clockwork Orange style and forced you to watch every dropback from the playoff careers of Manning and Brady, along with the key plays their teammates made or didn't make, then you would finally see just how ridiculous 22-8 vs. 12-13 really is.

by ramirez :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:48pm

Don't bother, Scott. I've already read your AFC champ preview from 2 years ago, when you made a bunch of bogus claims that Manning is better than Brady in the playoffs. I know you don't believe it. If you keep this going, I'll post the link to the comments section on your blog, where I posted as WR, and tore apart much of your article. You've yet to provide coherent answers to anything I posted on your blog site. I'm familiar with your litany of excuses for Manning's playoff failures. (Manning lost in 99 because of Harrison's drops, Clark cost him the 2007 SD game, the other guy forgot the snap count in 2008, etc.) Somehow, when Manning loses, Kacsmar says it's never his fault. I'm tired of the excuses. Don't insult my intelligence by making me read them again.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:06pm

You're WR? Well that makes sense. I don't bother to reply because you never learn anything anyway. You stick to the same nonsense like what you said above.

Seriously, take a look at what you said earlier. You're equating the Tuck Rule and McCree INT with a Dominic Rhodes fumble and a wide open receiver. Notice how PM isn't involved in the latter?

Brady fumbled, and it should have stayed a fumble against Oakland. He threw a big INT against San Diego, and got the gift of all gifts with it being fumbled back (in good field position too).

Somehow you are comparing Brady getting lucky there with Manning getting lucky because:

A) Manning's RB fumbled at the 1-yard line and his center recovered it.
B) Manning's defense left a WR completely uncovered, Brady took forever to recognize it, and by the time he did, the defender was in position to maybe prevent the TD that Caldwell dropped anyway.

I'm surprised you don't tell me Reggie Wayne not fumbling that ball in the air on the GWD was lucky for Manning (note: Pats were penalized so it would have been moot).

Had these plays gone the other way, I would just have even more ammo for Manning as the unluckiest and Brady the luckiest QB in playoff history. Really, a GW TD pass because no one even covered Reche Caldwell? That'd be a worse highlight than Corey Webster falling down vs. Randy Moss in XLII. Thanks, Manning brothers.

Brady nearly threw a pick-six on the third down that could have iced the game before Manning got the ball back. Who was lucky there? You've got me all confused now.

Look, if you ask someone to explain something and all you do is stick your fingers in your ears and cast it off as "excuses," then I don't know what more to tell you. What's the point of even replying if you're going to be that juvenile about it?

by ramirez :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:17pm

Exactly, Manning benefitted from a play in the 06 game where Rhodes fumbled, and Saturday recovered. Manning did nothing to make that TD happen, and he wasn't on the field when Caldwell dropped the TD pass. In other words, he had nothing to do with two plays that helped keep Indy's hopes alive.

All I'm asking you to do is admit that Manning caught a couple of big breaks in the 06 afc champ game. If you can't admit even that much, you may be more delusional than I thought. And btw, your excuse for why you didn't answer my points on the other site ("you never learn anything anyway") is the weakest of weak sauce.

by hscer :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:58pm

Who's shouting you down? I was under the impression we were all just debating.

As for your direct response to one of my posts, you could do give Brady six. Congratulations on judging quarterbacks on extenuating circumstances? Let's judge how they played, which is much closer, statistically and/or otherwise, than the W-L records would indicate.

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 9:44am

*Not so for Manning in most cases.*

Great! Now you just need to demonstrate this claim. Go through every snap of every playoff game and demonstrate that the "luck" factor was in Brady's favor. Cherry picking a few late game situations not only doesn't get you there, it says less than the argument it is trying to rebut, that wins in the playoffs matter.

For instance, was Peyton unlucky that Vandy shanked the FG against Pitt? Or was he lucky that the officials erroneously overturned a game sealing pick and his defense forced a fumble as the Steelers will killing the clock by the goal line?

by PatsFan :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:47am

Don't worry. After he's done cherry-picking stats to support his thesis, Scott "Triplette" Kaczmar will suddenly develop the vapors and say how he's much too tired/busy/excuse of the moment to perform any honest data analysis.

by hscer :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 9:39am

Without the breaks he doesn't get the chance. The real difference between Manning in 2000 and Brady in 2001 is the kickers, not the tuck rule. Swap kickers and both results are highly likely to be different and we would be no wiser to the actual timeline. You can say we should judge based on what did happen but then you're engaging in the judge-based-on-factors-outside-the-QB's-control crap which is what Scott is really arguing against beyond the whole Brady-Manning thing; hence, a forthcoming continuation.

by slomojoe :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 9:55pm

There's really one answer to this, that metrics can't capture I think. It boils down to two men, Brady and Manning, who undoubtedly want to be the best ever, and would not settle for less. So, imagine now giving them truth serum, and asking them the question whether they would trade their carreer for that of the other. What would be their answer? I obviously don't know, but while I can't imagine Brady making the swap, I suspect Manning would at least entertain the thought.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:03pm

Is there any player who wudnt rather have bradys career? I bet barry sanders wishes he had 4 sb rings too, but that doesnt mean hes worse than emmit smith.

by slomojoe :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:38am

Well, for one I am not sure Sanders had the ambition to be the best ever, certainly not at the monomaniacal level of Brady and Manning.

But be that as it may, if it were indeed such a clear-cut, obvious choice for a player who wants to be the best ever to trade his stats/accolades/technical skills for another player's with perhaps lower stats/accolades/skills but a much better winning record, then aren't we to just conclude that a much better winning record perhaps matters more than we would want it to in deciding which player is the best ever?

(And mind you, I am actually not sure Manning would make that trade, I am just suggesting that he is far more likely to consider it than Brady would be, and that this has to mean something for those who feel like they need to decide which of the 2 players is actually better. Which I personally do not.)

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:43am

There are people living all over the world right now who would much rather be living in the US or western Europe. They could gladly trade careers with just about anyone in those countries.

So aren't we to conclude that people who live in the US or western Europe are much better at whatever it is they do?

by slomojoe :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 12:01pm

Not sure what you mean, really... you need to be more specific.
But assuming for the sake of argument that your broad scenario were true (which I somehow doubt), I think that it would probably tell you that living in a wealthy country vs a poorer one plays a larger role in determining one's personal feeling of fulfillment/safety/personal satisfaction than individual career success. (All this assuming that one could have highly detailed knowledge of what it is like in essence to live in a different country, the same way as a football player can get a very good sense of what it would be like to have another player's career based on that player's stats, reputation and winning record.)

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 12:49pm

A person could want to swap careers with another person and not have it reflect personally on how well they did their job.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:42pm


by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:46pm

I didn't even know this was posted until now, but as it says above, we'll expand on this on here where everyone can read it.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 5:58pm

One interesting point - I'm a bit surprised one julian edleman injury can have such a dramatic effect on the effectiveness of the pats offense. It really altered my view of a) the ease of which you can just plug in anyone and b) how good julian edleman/welker are/were as receivers.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:43pm

Edelman is great, but his importance to this team is compounded by several factors:

1) The OL can't hold blocks for very long.
2) The OL can't run block and the RBs are either ineffective or unhealthy.
3) Amendola also got hurt immediately thereafter.
4) Gronk got hurt, too. And when he returned the team stopped running him in the middle of the field to lessen the likelihood of re-injury.
3) LaFell missed camp and hasn't been the same. Dobson was also put on IR.

So, the team can't switch to a run first approach, doesn't have the weaponry to go with quick passing and doesn't have the OL to be good at longer developing plays.

When I talk about how much difference he'll make this week, it isn't because I think Edelman is a top 3 WR, it's because he's a lynch pin that holds this year's offense together.

by clipper :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:16pm

I will mention right off I am a Manning fan so my opinions will likely be biased. Having said that, there are two points that are not given enough thought and, as far as I am concerned, sway the argument in Manning's favour. Brady's years have been spent exclusively with one head coach who has an aggressive approach within games. Manning has managed to bring three different coaches to the SB, all of which are known for being very conservative. I know a few QBs have gone to the SB with two different head coaches, maybe only Kurt Warner has done it with three? This is a huge factor since we don't know what Brady would look like with a different HC.

Second, there has always been the argument that Manning's weapons have always been better. However, Manning has never had the other-wordly talent of a Randy Moss or Gronkowski. Harrison and Wayne were both outstanding but not at the same level as Moss or Gronkowski. The fact that Moss was dominant elsewhere also shows that he was not the product of playing with Brady. It could be argued that both Wayne and Harrison were only a great as they were because of Manning.

Having said this, these points don't belittle what Brady has managed to do, it just reflects differences that he did not have to deal with that Manning did.

by eagle97a :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:47pm

I do know and understand the fascination people have with regards to "what-ifs" and hypotheticals when it comes to sports debates. I imagine that a portion of the community here share my belief that unless we are discussing quantum mechanics we are more interested in trying to understand what are the variables and underlying causes why a particular event/data point happened and is not as invested with hypothetical outcomes. These 2 QBs are in a tier with a few others as the greatest qbs to ever play the game. The fact that PM played in 25 PO games deserves acclaim and in an alternate dimension might have won a few more SBs if he didn't play concurrently with the dynastic Pats, semi-dynastic Steelers and other very strong AFC squads. Compare this to Elway Broncos who also contended with the 80s Browns, Bills and the Marino Dolphins and you would say that they were in a somewhat similar boat with the exception that the AFC then was historically weak in comparison to the NFC. My own takeaway is similar with the others that PM played in a system which limited his options to win more and really weakened him competing against a franchise with GOAT level coaching, excellent FO, competent ownership and of course GOAT level quarterbacking. PMs' GOAT level resume is sad to say a bit diminished by the results but still admirable and worthy of respect considering the circumstances ( he did win a SB which is something that Jim Kelly would have really wanted ). Having said that the question is does PM share some of the blame because he played in his system? I don't have an answer/opinion on this since I don't have any data and I think this is a question for another day.

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:59pm

Someone needs to analyze it in terms of production of their wide receiver groups, but IMO Manning has over the course of his career played more games with better receiving groups than has Brady (although if the unprovable argument is "Manning makes his guys better and Brady doesn't" then the riddle is solved without need for statistical analysis.

Brady had Moss for two seasons. Gronk for 4 injury free seasons. Brady has rarely had great wide receiver groups and has had some terrible crews (2006, 2013 without Gronk to name two). Manning had ten straight years with both Wayne and Harrison (with some prime Dallas Clark mixed in), as well as VERY solid skill groups in his first few years in Denver.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:55pm

The issue for me is - Brady's receivers may not be good receivers outside of NE, but thats because NE runs a very unusual system.

This actually a subtle and slight knock on brady that I do harbor. He throws short. I admit to personally hating short throws. They are aesthetically less pleasing to me. But were it just an aesthetics thing, I would move passed it. I mean, I hate how much steph curry's game is built on long bomb threes instead of attacking the basket like durant. Still, can't deny his greatness.

But, research on Yac has shown its not so much a qb thing as it is a system/receiver thing. And this is sort of born out across the league, where numbers are up, not coincidentally, because everyone else is going towards the short passing game. I applaud NE for really discovering this and doing it better than everyone else, but thats partly a brady thing and partly a receiver/scheme thing.

Edit - Just to be clear, I don't want to sound like this knocks brady all the way down to game manager or anything. The chiefs basically the same offense ne does with worse results across the board. It takes a talent like Brady to send it into the stratosphere, so if you think I'm implying that Brady is 2nd rate, undo that inference now.

by eagle97a :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:03am

I have mentioned this before but in addition to analyzing the WR/TE group for each QB, we need to analyze all of the other position groups inc. defense and special teams if we are to have a more complete picture of qb performance. Ignoring for the moment D/ST we should have a look how qb skill can enhance the running game. A qb is directly responsible in diagnosing the defense, setting the protection and identify the point of attack for the rb to punch thru to keep the drive alive and score. I can agree that from a physical standpoint running the ball requires far less from a qb than passing but the mental aspect is no less a part of the skillset required and therefore part of his performance. Granted that it is far harder to quantify mental performance but a rough approximation can be derived from drive success (points per drive and all other derivative metrics). The game management aspect like clock management is also one part even if others say this is more on the coach but the one executing it is the qb and ultimately he controls the huddle or the no-huddle, the snap and all other facets of the execution (with the caveat that you need to control for the quality of his offensive team mates and since the talent level among the different teams in the current NFL is razor-thin in difference this factor evens out). There are a lot of other variables that are too many to mention but one thing I believe in is traditional qb metrics like TDs, yards, ANYA etc. capture a small part of his performance and we need a lot more to have some semblance of a fair comparison.

by BroncFan07 :: Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:57pm

The better QB in this thread is:

A) The one who played for your favorite team, or
B) The one who didn't play for the team you hated more, or
C) The one you just enjoyed watching more, or
D) The one who won you the most fantasy championships.

All of the rest of this is an exercise in carpal tunnel syndrome.

by PatsFan :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 8:16am

[cue "Doctor Who" theme]
"The alligator (errr...Broncos fan) speaks the truth!"

by billsfan :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:16am

Let's make 'em both work summers in the steel mill and see who does better after.

by eagle97a :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 10:58pm

All I can say is after reading the latest fireworks in this thread is "Get your popcorn ready!" :)

by Will Allen :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:16am

I am genuinely agnostic with regard to the irrational debate. Tell me what the rest of the roster looks like, what the other rosters in the division look like, and what the other rosters in the conference look like, and I'll tell you which guy in his prime I'd rather have.

However, because I still firmly believe that this is primarily a game about the application of violence, I want to note that Brady has never, ever, had anyone in front of him who has been so inept in the application of violence as Charlie Johnson and Michael Schofield was/is. Not even close. I think there is a very good chance that the latter's ineptitude will be the deciding factor in the contest Sunday, even in Manning's currently reduced state.

by slomojoe :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:39am

Oops, posted in the wrong place.

by nat :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:49am

Well, this is all pretty silly, isn't it? At this point in a career, you get judged for your actual accomplishments, not might-have-beens. In the playoffs, that has to start with SB wins, and work it's way down from there.

Championships and Wins

With Peyton's playoff appearances and byes, the expected number of SB wins is 1.3. He has 1. He's nearly average.

The expected number of AFC Championships is 2.6. He has 3. He's just above average.

Together, he's as close to average as you can get. Not bad. Not good. Just average at succeeding in the playoffs.

All you can do in any game is win. He's 12-13 overall. Again, as close to average as he could get. Not good. Not bad. Just average.

Of course, he only plays on offense. And all he an do on offense is lead scoring drives, and avoid big failures like turnovers or failed fourth downs or running out of time while trying to score.

The average drive Big Fail rate is 20.2%. Peyton had big failures at a rate of 23.0%. That's not good. That's not awful. But it's bad.

The average drive fail rate (adding in punts) is 58.4%. Peyton's rate was 55.2%. That's good.

The average TD rate was 21.9%. Peyton's was 21.1%. That's a bit less than average. Not good, nor bad. But below average.

The average FG attempt rate was 16.0%. Peyton's was 20.7%. That's good in a sense and bad in a sense.

Overall, Peyton's drives led to TDs or FG attempts 41.8% of the time versus the average of 37.9%. So he's good there, even if he's not good at leading TD drives.

Total Assessment
Overall, you'd have to treat this an average-ish result on a large body of work. He wins like an average playoff QB. He led drives that scored FGs more than average but had drives fail badly more than average, too.

His legacy in the playoffs is exactly what people (other than Scott and other die-hard Peyton fans) think: average.

Average. Average. Average.

His record for one-and-dones will stand forever. But even that is only a couple games more than an average QB would have had with the same number of appearances.

Average in the Playoffs

Meh. Get over it guys. Peyton's legacy and Hall of Fame credentials are all about his regular season record and stats, which are really great. He deserves to get in on that basis. But he's dead middle of the pack for playoff accomplishments.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 12:57pm

Peyton has played in 4 Conference Championship games and it will be 5 come this weekend. Edit: just noticed you were pointing out wins, not played in.

"All you can do in any game is win. He's 12-13 overall. Again, as close to average as he could get. Not good. Not bad. Just average."

Expected records in the playoffs are actually losing because of the one and done format.

by nat :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:05pm


The mean (what we usually call "average") winning percentage is 50%. That's obvious.

The median (what we sometimes mean by "average") record is 0-1 in years when 3 or 4 teams with byes lose their opening game, and 1-1 in years when 3 or 4 teams with byes win their opening games.

Since Peyton entered the playoffs in 1999, the median yearly playoff record is 1-1. There have been 7 one-and-done teams in just one of those seasons. There have been fewer than 6 one-and-done teams 10 years in that period.

Perhaps you mean that losses tend to get distributed across a lot of teams that only make the playoffs occasionally, so the median team playoff record over a stretch of years is a losing one. That may or may not be true. But it doesn't apply in this case, since Peyton has made it the playoffs so often. In fact, it makes things look a lot worse for Peyton.

If you check the page for QB playoff win-loss records, Peyton's an outlier considering his number of appearances. For QB's with losing records, Peyton has 25 games started, Marino has 18, and Hasselbeck has 11. Twenty (!!!) other QBs with more than ten playoff games started all have winning records. Even the QBs with just ten games are predominantly winners.

History tells us that if you make it to the playoffs consistently, then you are expected to have a winning playoff record, too. For QBs with at least ten playoff games, the average winning percentage is 60.6%. Manning is three games shy of that mark, well below average for such QBs.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:09pm

So instead of actually addressing the way he's played and what's in the article, you hang everything on the W-L record, the exact thing I'm telling you is bullshit.

Incredible reading comprehension, nat.

by nat :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 2:47pm

I didn't read the whole article. It's pay-walled, and I'm not about to give ESPN more money. And it's written by a known extremely biased Peyton-fan, who also doesn't deserve to get more money for writing an obvious fan article. Sorry. You're okay, even good, on some topics. But when you hit your hot-button topic, you're just another fanboy.

And besides, you goofed in this comment. I based things on the results of OFFENSIVE DRIVES not just W-L. And Peyton's drive results in the playoffs are decidedly average. "Incredible reading comprehension, Scott."

Whatever Peyton has done statistically, it hasn't translated into notably good drives, much less wins. So what's the point, other than stats padding? I get that you could have great drive stats and still lose. But if you're only getting mediocre drive results, then the offense (and its leader) haven't earning anything but a mediocre playoff legacy, which is accurately reflected in a mediocre playoff W-L record.

To go deeper than that, you'd need to go into cherry-picked blame assignment for individual drives or plays, as you do with your "six key plays" concept. Or you'd have to ignore drive results entirely and just praise stats padding while ignoring important factors like playing inside, where stats are well known to be easier to compile. Either way, you've left the arena of accomplishments and have moved into the land of "might-have-been" and fantasy football.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:08pm

I've done a drive stats article for the playoffs each of the last five years, and will do a sixth before the SB.

How is 3rd in yards per drive mediocre? The fact that he's 14th in Pts/Dr just shows he's been saddled with terrible field position (31st out of 33) and a high rate of factors out of his control such as dropped passes, fumbled completions and short-yardage running game failures.

If he's average in the playoffs, I'd love to see what your distribution would look like since that means only about a handful of players could be above average. Note: over 200 QBs have started playoff games.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:34pm

Come on Nat, you're better than this.

That whole first section is equating a team outcome with him.

The second section is interesting, but do you take into account field position, for which Manning has historically been saddled with about the worst field position in history for a playoff QB?

by nat :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:29pm

The point about WINS is that they are what you are trying to accomplish in a game, rather than what you as an individual are trying to do to accomplish those wins.

But I immediately go to DRIVES because that's what a QB (as passer and play caller) has direct control over. So sure, if Peyton was great at leading the offense to successful drives and at avoiding big failures, we could forgive his mediocre W-L record. But that's not what happened, is it? His drives were pretty average at getting useful results. They adequately explain the W-L record, without having to blame his defense (or say that he was bringing the defense down more than they deserved, for that matter.)

You are right that the 1999-2010 Colts had bad average field position in the playoffs, about four yards worse than median. I suspect that was not just about the defense and special teams but also about those "big fail" drives. Those kill field position. It's better to punt than throw an interception or fail on fourth down, etc. Lots of field goal attempts might also explain some field position issues, since they cancel any field position you gained on those drives.

The Manning-led Broncos have no such field position problem.

But you did raise an interesting point. Could field position explain a contrast between compiled stats and drive results? What else might explain it? Is it just a Red Zone issue?

Regardless, the contrast does exist. It's real. For whatever reason, Peyton had issues with big fail drives, offset by his strong ability to lead drives into field goal range. The result was an offense that accomplished its goals like an average playoff offense, but not more than that.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:50pm

"For whatever reason, Peyton had issues with big fail drives"

Not interested in discovering the reasons behind such things? Isn't that the whole point of digging into this stuff?

Manning's offenses have 16 drives that ended on downs.

1. 99 TEN - Edge dropped a pass on 4th-and-4 in the flat
2. 00 MIA - Edge stopped on 3rd-and-2 run; Colts try a fake FG instead of a 46-yard FG. It failed
3. 03 KC - 13 seconds left, Colts up 38-31, run Rhodes on 4th-and-3. No big deal
4. 03 NE - Manning incomplete on 4th-and-10, down 21-14. NFL admits NE should have been penalized for holding/DPI on 3rd and 4th down.
5. 03 NE - Manning 9-yd pass on 4th-and-10. Troy Walters literally steps out of bounds a yard short with seconds remaining. Not on QB
6. 05 PIT - Manning buried on 4th-and-16 quick sack
7. 06 KC - up 15 in 4Q, three runs and a punt that gets botched and turns into -16 yd completion from Hunter Smith
8. 06 CHI - up 29-17 late, run Rhodes on 4th-and-6. No big deal.
9. 07 SD - down 28-24 late, Merriman abuses Tony Ugoh and Manning throws short & incomplete. You can criticize PM for that down series.
10. 07 SD - last chance, Wayne drops pass on 3rd-and-5 after big hit. Clark drops pass on 4th-and-5 to end game
11. 08 SD - Addai stopped on 3rd-and-1 run. Manning incomplete on 4th-and-1 in 3rd QT. Don't remember this one too well.
12. 09 NO - just watched this yesterday. 4th-and-goal of the SB, Wayne drops pass at goal line. Could have tried an onside kick if IND scored here.
13. 13 SEA - think this was a tipped ball on 4th-and-short before halftime, down 22-0
14. 13 SEA - down 43-8 in 4Q, 4th-and-2 incompletion. Don't remember it, don't care either at 43-8
15. 14 IND - 7-yard pass to Anderson on 4th-and-8. Bad ALEX decision here. Too far to gain (down 24-13 late here)
16. 15 PIT - perfect pass to Sanders on 4th-and-3, but he drops it on contact. Have to hold onto that one.

Still want to put these "big fail" drives on the QB? But hey, you'll always have 07 SD to point to at least.

by nat :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 4:12pm


It was inevitable.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 4:15pm

You're on the wrong website if you think analyzing what happened in a game is making an excuse. It's an explanation, and while I know it takes work to actually go back and chart this stuff, that's why I have this job and you're left being an annoying little gnat in the comments section.

by Snack Flag :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 6:19pm

Is this really the way to talk to your readers? It's not great when the writer of an article stoops to the depths of the lowest commenter. It's actually kind of depressing.

You should have a lot more respect for the community here. The thing that drove me to click on this FO discussion was smart conversation from readers about the article, not the article itself. Us commenters aren't perfect and we'll get into squabbles and say silly things to each other, but the regulars here (Will, chem burn, RickD, theslothook, milkman and many, many others) offer up a lot of different and interesting perspectives, even when the writers here don't.

Maybe it's asking too much for you to take the high road when sometimes a commenter, like me, won't. But some of us may also be less likely to participate in the discussion if it'll just turn into a back patting session for the writer.

by PatsFan :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 6:40pm

You're seeing the unfortunate problem with ESPN, SI, etc. draining off FO's best writers. Not blaming FO for that -- there's no way they have the $$ to keep that talent when the big boys come calling.

And so we get stuck with this.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 7:13pm

Just wondering, when scott is not referencing the patriots, do you dislike his work? I actually like his writing and the content. This topic was bound to cause an uproar.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 6:54pm

That's how I reply to nat. If you saw his comments over the years, you'd understand.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 7:13pm

In Scott's defense, nat has that passive aggressive know it all tone down to a science.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 4:04pm

I'm sorry, but this is just ridiculous, this entire argument. We have two guys that have played a combined, what, 33 years? And the debate is now reduced to the meaning of 16 drives? Good grief.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 4:17pm

"suspect that was not just about the defense and special teams but also about those "big fail" drives. Those kill field position. It's better to punt than throw an interception or fail on fourth down, etc."

That's an interesting question. We can look at where those big fail drives occur, but it also then comes to what the defense does on the other end compared to expectations.

I agree that in converting production into points, Manning's offenses have been average in the playoffs, but there are clouding factors, and any attempt to isolate just QB performance, whether it be DVOA/DYAR, or what Chase Stuart has done on his blog (I think there's a link here to that stuff) shows him as a good playoff QB.

by brownchowdhury :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:32pm

I'm guessing this is why these threads were banned. This reads more like a Breitbart comment section than a football analytics site. Actually scratch that, this reads exactly like a football analytics site.

The reality is that as a team sport, football analytics have a hard time isolating individual performances. We all accept that there exist things in football that statistics cannot currently measure. Thus gary can logically use SB wins as the single best measure of QB (or any other position) performance.


Assumption 1
The most fundamental measure of football performance is a player's (or coach's) added probability to a team of super bowl victories.

Assumption 2
The impact of "things statistics cannot measure" is large.

Thus we have no way of controlling for "things statistics cannot measure" and we are left with only one viable statistic: SB victories.

Argument over.

by dbrude@gmail.com :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:48pm

Hey Nat,

How about this post which compares each QB's expected ANY/A based on their season average and the defense they faced and then computes total value by multiplying by the number of attempts and the leverage situation.


by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:45pm

Personally I think the whole Brady vs Manning thing has become a moot point.

Back in 2005 the argument was "Brady's got rings" vs "Manning has stats but is always 1-and-done in the playoffs".

Since 2006 ...
- Both are capable of leading offenses that dominate and seem to score at will.
- Both have put up gaudy stats.
- Both have appeared in three Super Bowls winning 1 and losing 2.
- Both managed to come back from bad injuries that required surgery and play at a great level again.

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 4:17pm

And, to bring the comparison full circle, their playoff records are very similar.

Brady: 12-7
Manning: 9-7

by crw78 :: Fri, 01/22/2016 - 1:18am

This. Before I comment further, I will say that I am a Pats fan and always have been, long before Brady and Belichick came around (I even thought Belichick was making a huge mistake by not giving Bledsoe his job back!).

Prior to 2007, Manning was clearly the better overall player, but Brady had better overall teams and won 3 rings. Since 2007, Brady has proven that he could play at Manning's previously established elite level. Manning is without a doubt the greatest regular-season QB ever, at least statistically.

I think what clouds people's perceptions of both players is that, for whatever reason, there have been many playoff games where Manning has appeared to be beaten down, confused, surprised, whatever terminology you want to use, when his offense hasn't performed up to their regular season prowess. I can only remember this happening once or twice to Brady (2010 WC against Ravens and possibly the 2011? divisional round loss to the Jets). Maybe I'm forgetting some (and some may want to include the first SB loss to the Giants, and I wouldn't argue to hard against it). Of course, some of that has to do with the Pats not losing as much. Otherwise, their playoff numbers are relatively similar, and Manning has the edge in those numbers in many cases.

I really don't have any doubt in mind that if the players switched teams that Manning would have won SBs with those Pats teams, if the luck and other factors remained the same. However, I will say that one thing about Brady and the Pats in general is that they are willing and able to completely change their identity from game to game based on gameplan, personnel, matchups, etc., and that is an extremely difficult thing to do. While Brady has never been the best deep ball thrower, he certainly was able to take advantage of Moss's capabilities when he had him. But most of his career, his receivers haven't been of that ilk, and the offense has changed accordingly. He may not throw the ball deep very much anymore, but the reason he's still so good is his accuracy in tight spaces on short throws is usually phenomenal.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to Tom Brady = winner sauce! I kid of course.

by anotherpatsfan :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:47pm

It's time like these when I wonder what L'il Belichick might have to say...


by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 4:19pm

Wow, that was really, really bad. Great concept, awful execution.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 6:00pm

I thought it was funny.

by eagle97a :: Fri, 01/22/2016 - 8:48am

The irrational thread is a well-named thread since both sides remain irrational after all these years. Just to add fuel to the fire, I find that a lot of people still equate good passing with good qb-ing when one is just a subset of the other and being the best passer doesn't necessarily mean being the best qb. It is good to be reminded of the 11 commandments of being a good qb according to Bill Parcells, very illuminating.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Fri, 01/22/2016 - 6:10pm

Maybe ramirez won't choose to listen, but other people might be interested.

"The other guy said that Manning is the unluckiest QB in playoff history. Kacsmar has made the same claim, but it's a fabrication."

First we need a definition of luck.

"A combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person" or "success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions."

In the context of a quarterback, we're looking at events in a game that were really out of his control. There are a lot of those over the 3 hours, but we tend to focus on the most significant plays and the ones that move the needle in win probability the most, as well as the improbable mistakes like screwing up an easy catch or missing an easy field goal.

So it's just common sense that Manning has had the most bad luck. How else do you get to the most playoff losses ever with the most close losses ever despite such strong overall numbers and all those 4Q leads? Try naming another QB to fit the bill.

"What about his other losses? What were the unlucky things that cost him the game against Tennessee, or the game from 2000 against Miami? Vanderjagt missed a long FG, but long field goal attempts don't count when Brady does it, remember?"

If you watched the NFL Films' produced Game of the Week version of that 99 Titans game, it's basically a 45-minute production of "the Colts thought they had a play, but it didn't go their way."

Here's an old article that talks about the dropped passes (there were 7 of them) and "few breaks" going Indy's way - http://enquirer.com/columns/sullivan/2000/01/17/ts_manning_not_yet.html

That was written long before Peyton was the QB we know him as now, but any impartial analysis of that game will tell you he played fine, but nothing went Indy's way. The fake spike getting blown dead before halftime is a great example. In the third quarter, the Colts had a 4th-and-1 play they prepared for that week, but the refs blew it dead for a false start that really ticked off Mora.

Down 16-9 in the 4th quarter, I've pulled through research that Jerome Pathon dropped a pass on 3rd-and-10, though I don't know the ALEX there. The Colts just missed an 87-yard punt return after Terrence Wilkins' foot was out of bounds upon review. A false start and holding penalty led to a 3rd-and-22 where Manning threw a good pass under pressure to Marvin Harrison for about a 30-yard gain, but he dropped the ball, the biggest drop of the day. The Titans went up 19-9 with 4:19 left and that was basically the ballgame.

2000 Dolphins - this game is like the litmus test for how much people really know about old Manning playoff games. Colts tried a fake FG instead of a 46-yd FG that failed, costing them 3 points. Jerome Pathon dropped a TD on 3rd-and-goal that was so easy the announcer even called for the TD before having to correct the call of a drop, costing the Colts 4 more points as they settled for a FG. Harrison dropped a pass on 3rd-and-2 to end a 3Q drive, and was later flagged for OPI to wipe out a 38-yard catch. In OT, the Colts could have taken an offsides penalty to have a 3rd-and-7, but Vanderjagt told Mora he could make the FG, so they let him try it. He shanked that 49-yard FG in epic fashion. The Colts never got the ball back as Lamar Smith put them away with a TD run. So when someone says Manning only put up 17 points, you know they know nothing about the game besides the box score.

ramirez could not have done a worse job of understanding my point about the field goals. A 49-yard field goal in Miami is not an improbable kick. A field goal of 45-46 yards, especially following the Tuck Rule or just a 13-yard drive, in the weather conditions in NE was improbable and those drives do not speak as well of Brady. He of course had his kicker come through while Manning's blew it. Again, out of the QB's control, but the W-L record completely ignores this.

"What about the 41-0 loss to the Jets? I guess Peyton got REALLY unlucky in that one."

Actually, he kind of did. This game snowballed quickly because Manning's team never showed up, much like SB 48 really. But let's look at that beginning.

Colts down 7-0 on their second drive. Manning hits a few passes, suffers 3 drops and sets up Vanderjagt for a 41-yard field goal. Normal stuff in the 1Q. You're fine with a 7-3 game, but Vanderjagt misses the field goal. The next time Manning takes the field, the score is 17-0 Jets due to a double score with a fumbled kick return by Indy in between. About the only other time I've seen something like this in a playoff game was when it happened to Andrew Luck (go figure) against the Chiefs in 2013. And yeah, Manning still had a poor game, but it was another game where his receivers dropped 8 passes and just never had much of a chance. He threw the first two picks of his playoff career -- down 34-0 and 41-0 in the 4Q.

"The 2003 loss to NE? Manning threw 4 picks. When other QBs do that, theyre ripped apart for playing terribly. But when Peyton throws 4 picks, he's "unlucky".

One of the worst games of Manning's career, and yet since Brady didn't play well, it was still just 21-14 with the Colts having the ball and 2:01 left. How many games do you watch where the NFL admits defensive holding should have been called on 3rd down and DPI on 4th down? That's what happened here, and that's why illegal contact was given a strong reinforcement in 2004. I doubt Peyton would have tied the game there, but you can't say he was given a fair shake on this drive.

"What about the 2004 loss to the Pats, when one of the highest scoring teams in NFL history scored an embarrassing 3 points?"

Don't feel like getting into the specifics of that one, but QB play was not a deciding factor in that game. It was about the trenches and running game.

"In the 2007 loss to the Chargers, Manning played much better, but I still don't see what was unlucky about it."

Do you see the game or do you see the box score? Two interceptions off the hands of your own receivers would be deemed unlucky by most, especially when one is right near the goal line to Kenton Keith and Eric Weddle ends up catching it with one hand while being blocked. Those were huge. It's also ridiculous that backup Billy Volek went right down the field for the GW TD drive against a supposed top defense. The final kicker was the last drive. Wayne and Clark dropped passes on 3rd-and-5 and 4th-and-5. Wayne was hit hard on a good defensive play, so say what you want, but Clark let the 4th-down pass go right off his head. A terrible drop, and game over.

"In the Saints Super Bowl, Manning blew a chance to win the game by throwing a pick six. That's not bad luck."

You mean to tie the game. Pierre Garcon's 3rd-down drop and the surprise onside kick flub by Hank Baskett led to that lone big mistake from Manning.

"I think he was a little unlucky to lose to the Jets in 2010, but if you're not going to give credit to Brady for game winning Vinatieri FGs, you can't give Manning credit for one, either. You can't have it both ways."

2nd game in playoff history where a team took a lead in the final minute and lost. Only other ones have been the Music City Miracle and 2012 SEA-ATL. And again, you totally miss the point that I'm not impressed with what Brady did to set Vinatieri up against the Raiders and Titans.

Somehow you'll pass this all off as excuses when I'm just giving you the explanations for these games. When it comes to writing a recap or charting, I use the same methods for every team every week. I call a spade a spade. If Brady's receiver drops a big 4th-down pass, I'm going to tell you about it. But I can't make stuff up out of thin air. When you look at the actual game results, it is hard not to conclude anything but Manning has had terrible contributions from his teammates in high-leverage situations.

"Good times for a change
see, the luck I've had
can make a good man
turn bad

So please please please
let me, let me, let me
let me get what I want
this time"

by bmay :: Fri, 01/22/2016 - 7:40pm

Don't feel like getting into the specifics of that one, but QB play was not a deciding factor in that game. It was about the trenches and running game.

Didn't Indy's receivers have a bunch of drops that game, too?

You mean to tie the game. Pierre Garcon's 3rd-down drop and the surprise onside kick flub by Hank Baskett led to that lone big mistake from Manning.

Also, right before the end of the 1st half, Colts stop Saints at goal line, but Caldwell goes uber-conservative and doesn't let Manning throw -> 3-and-out -> short-field for Saints -> FG

by Scott Kacsmar :: Fri, 01/22/2016 - 7:47pm

Yes, there were six drops in the 20-3 IND-NE game. Four of them were early, including two third downs. Hell, Troy Brown defensed a pass away from Brandon Stokley. Colts had the ball 10 times and Rhodes and Wayne lost fumbles. Manning's only turnover came in final seconds with 17-point deficit. Even Kevin Faulk outrushed Edge, and of course Corey Dillon was excellent.

by theslothook :: Fri, 01/22/2016 - 7:50pm

Aaron even said that that game wasn't on Peyton. It was a collapse across the board. Something that got lost in all those pats games - the other side of the ball was generally a close match. Even in the afc champ game in 06 - one of the tds came from a pick six, another was set up by a very long kick return by gaffney. Bob sanders also dropped an int on earlier drive(though, in fairness, that brady screamed at the receiver so it might have been a miscommunication). It was a solid defensive effort all things considered.

by blan :: Fri, 01/22/2016 - 11:56pm

Scott, clearly you've studied Manning's playoffs starts more than me and possibly more than anyone that doesn't work in the NFL, and you are resolved that Manning was unlucky. I feel that I am open to being convinced that Manning had poor playoff luck, but this post doesn't move my opinion on that resolution for a few reasons.

First, I don't think statements like "So it's just common sense that Manning has had the most bad luck," will be effective on an analytics website. You seem to have the germ of an analytical argument in the rest of that paragraph, but I think starting off an argument with "So it's just common sense..." will poison the well for readers who aren't already convinced of your point. Furthermore, possibilities other than "Manning's luck has been poor" can answer your rhetorical question.

Second, listing poor plays by teammates does not tell you anything about Manning's luck without some reference to compare it to. You list a whole bunch of drops by teammates, but you haven't told us what the expected drop rate should be. What's the drop rate of other quarterbacks in the playoffs? What's the drop rate of Peyton Manning's receivers under other conditions? Your argument doesn't carry any weight until you make these comparisons.

Third, the overwhelming majority of what you call unlucky plays for Peyton Manning are offensive plays. It's very hard to decouple the quarterback's performance from the rest of the offense. Most of the time the receiver and the quarterback share blame on drops. Of course, there are some drops on which we'd assign the blame entirely to the receiver. For example, you describe Dallas Clark's 4th down drop as "terrible" so maybe that's one we'd assign entirely to Clark. Even so, that doesn't mean Manning necessarily has no influence on the catch other than throwing a perfect ball. Maybe Clark would have caught it if Manning had told Clark on the sideline to be ready for such and such play because we'll probably go to you on 4th down if that comes up. Maybe Clark was nervous and Manning could have settled him down by pointing out John Candy in the stands. Of course, this is pure speculation, but I'm trying to show how the quarterback is the leader of the offense and has some responsibility for every aspect of it.

Like I said above, I think you're much more likely to be able to rehabilitate Manning's playoff image by trying to show that his defenses were subpar. Although Manning has some say as to what field position his defense is put in, I think it's clear we can't assign blame to him for poor defensive play. So something you could try is calculating the expected points for opponents based on actual starting field position, but using an average playoff defense (you'd probably need to be careful about dome/outdoors since Manning played so many games in domes), and then comparing that with what Manning's defense actually gave up.

It's clear to me that you're very passionate about this subject, but I think it will serve you best to try to be as detached as possible when making your case. It will be harder for people to accept your results, even if the results are true, if some partiality shows in your arguments. I point this out because a couple people in this thread have accused you of bias, and I think your conversion rate will be better if you come off as impartial. I know that's especially hard for subject like sports, but the thing I like about this website is that it looks at sports analytically, and to me that means dispassionately (or at least as dispassionately as possible).

by Scott Kacsmar :: Sat, 01/23/2016 - 1:04pm

You made some good points here. My biggest problem is this stuff has been so ingrained for me it's like knowing the multiplication tables, and I expect too much from other people to know the ins and outs of games from years ago. So I get frustrated when someone says "What do you mean the 2000 Miami game was unlucky?" because to me it looks clear that that person does not know much about that game. If they did, we wouldn't have to talk about it like this. And I don't think people should speak so definitively about games they don't know much about. I sure don't try to be a know-it-all about playoff games involving Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw, because I don't even have the gamebooks from those games, let alone a full video copy.

by blan :: Sun, 01/24/2016 - 2:05am

Yeah. I think to really do this topic justice, it'd probably be a book length endeavor. You'd probably want to include game stills to show things like that the drops are really on the receivers. Even better would be to show the game clips, but of course you wouldn't be able to make that into a printable book. Not sure if you could get rights to those or if there would be enough interest to justify the effort, but maybe there'd be a market for it in five or so years when Manning is inducted into the Hall.

by blan :: Sun, 01/24/2016 - 2:07am

double post

by ramirez :: Fri, 01/22/2016 - 8:29pm

I've read this kind of stuff from Scott before. This is what he has devoted his career to, making excuses for Peyton's failures, and tearing down all of Brady's achievements. Seriously Scott, when have you EVER given Brady credit for a playoff win?

What's really incredible to me is that Kacsmar wants to give Manning the lion's share of the credit when his teams succeed, but then shifts blame whenever things go badly. I can't even fathom how he can say that Manning didn't contribute heavily to the 41-0 defeat to the Jets, or the SB loss to Seattle. Scott wants you to believe that when Manning suffers incompletions, it's always a drop by the receiver, but this isn't true. Why couldn't Manning, with a 15-0 deficit early in SB 48, lead his team back? They didn't even score until garbage time. Since Scott didn't talk about the 20-3 game from Jan 2005, here are the Colts drive results:

3 and out
3 and out
3 and out
fumble lost
field goal
fumble lost

I won't blame Manning for the fumbles lost, which are on his receivers. But how does the rest of that suggest to you that Manning played well? The Colts only crossed midfield five times all game, and this was one of the highest scoring teams in NFL history! I can only imagine what Kacsmar would say if Brady put forward a similar performance.

Now I still can't get Scott to address the original point I was making when I first posted in this forum. He's claiming that Brady's strong performances down the stretch against Oakland and San Diego don't count, because Brady caught breaks before leading the comebacks. So how can Scott justify counting Manning's performance against the Patriots in 2006 as a great comeback? Before Manning led the comeback at the end of the game, the Colts had a fumble recovery by a lineman for a TD, and Caldwell dropped an easy TD in the end zone for NE. So if Scott was consistent, he would apply the same standard to Manning that he applies to Brady, and he would declare that Manning's comeback didn't help the evaluation of Manning's career.

But Scott can't be consistent, and that's his problem. When Brady catches a break and then leads a comeback, Scott says he's overrated. When Manning catches breaks, and then leads a comeback, Scott says he gets credit for the comeback. How can you justify that blatant and unfair double standard?

Scott also rips Brady for the Tuck Rule call. If Scott is saying that that call invalidates Brady's comeback against Oakland, then how come he's willing to give Manning credit for his play down the stretch from the Jan 2006 game against Pittsburgh? Manning threw an INT that looked like it had clinched the game for Pittsburgh, but the officials inexplicably ruled that it was incomplete. The league office later admitted the refs blew the call. Again, if Scott was consistent, he would say that manning's near-comeback after that call doesn't count, because there's no way it's still a close game in the final minute without that blown call on the INT, and the later Bettis fumble.

Scott also says that we should really credit Manning for the play from Jan 2007 when Saturday recovered the fumble in the end zone, because he had gotten the Colts to the one yard line. So does Scott give Brady credit for the play in the same game, when Mankins also recovered a fumble in the end zone, on the premise that Brady got his team near the goal line? Of course not.

Scott isn't interested in the facts. He's interested in manipulating the facts, to make Manning look good, and make Brady look overrated. The fact that someone with as little integrity as Kacsmar is taken seriously as a journalist, and allowed to be a member of the pro football writers association, shows how low the standards for those things actually are.

If you're not going to address my points about applying fair standards to both Brady and Manning, don't bother responding again.

by fourthandgoal :: Sat, 01/23/2016 - 6:39am

The main problem I have here is that I think Scott has the correct answers, but he isn't honest and objective in his analysis to get there.

I think it's probably true to say that Manning is the unluckiest playoff QB in history, and that Brady has had more good luck than bad luck. But it's poor analysis to simply list examples of Manning's bad luck and Brady's good luck rather than trying to objectively weigh good luck and bad luck for each. It's further poor to refuse Brady credit for the great QB he's been, even while acknowledging he's had more than a fair share of luck.

I think it's easy to show that Brady has had better defensive and special teams performances in the playoffs than Manning has, but it's not honest to exclusively focus on games where Manning's team let him down and games where Brady's didn't. And I don't think it's fair to Brady not to consider that especially his earlier teams spent considerably fewer resources on offensive weapons compared to other areas of the team.

I think Peyton Manning has been an incredible quarterback, and deserves more appreciation. But this isn't the way to do it. It is the closed mindedness and bias that I hoped Football Outsiders avoided.

by Anon Ymous :: Sun, 01/24/2016 - 8:39am

Great post, though I'm not convinced Scott is correct... or if he is, if it is all that big a factor.

For instance, would it be bad luck if Manning had to face a clearly superior team on the road with his #3LT, #2LG, #2C, #2RG and #2RT? Or that his team was taking control at the end of the first half before his RB fumbled?

How about if he had to play on an ankle so shredded he still wasn't fully practicing 6 months later and his OL conveniently crapped the bed? Or if he somehow scored a go ahead TD only to watch the defense give it up?

How about if his defense gave up a 21-3 lead partially because a couple dozen teammates were suffering from the flu?

Or how about if his best weapon - a person who just had the most dominant season at his position in the history of the league - got hurt for the super bowl? And despite his absence, as well as the fact that the opponent recovered both fumbles, he was a dropped pass away from winning the game?

Would those be used as examples of Manning's bad luck? Would a game winning FG be considered good luck if the same placekicker missed two attempts earlier and the defense blew two 4th quarter leads?

Call me crazy, but I suspect the answers to these questions depend largely on which QB we are talking about.

by fourthandgoal :: Sat, 01/23/2016 - 6:42am

On a different note, I'm not sure why so many here are giving so much weight to clutch situations in evaluating QBs when there isn't much proof that "clutch" performance exists and that players perform differently in clutch situations than other ones. Shouldn't quarterbacks be evaluated on the entire body of work, of which clutch situations are just a small part?

by theslothook :: Sat, 01/23/2016 - 12:46pm

This is my biggest gripe and it goes all the way back to the start of this rivalry. Its essentially what ramirez keeps parroting.

If you want to argue Brady is a better qb, you dont need to point to clutchness to do it.

by theslothook :: Sun, 01/24/2016 - 11:28pm

I for one am glad the Brady Manning football games are concluded. Its been over a decade, its time to let it recede into football lore. Plus my guy won :P

by eagle97a :: Mon, 01/25/2016 - 12:39am

Score one for PM, the Broncos and fanboys! But seriously congratulations to PM and the Broncos (and to the Panthers as well). Good luck on the SB, I suspect that the Broncos will need that against the Panthers seeing how they are playing right now.