Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady: One for the ages — and ageless –

Judy Battista highlights the storylines and factors to pay attention to in Week 9, beginning with Manning-Brady XVI and continuing below with 10 more things to watch.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The less glamorous reality of one of football’s greatest rivalries is that, very often, it has not been Tom Brady or Peyton Manning who determined the outcome of their meeting. It was the team that had the better defense (that helps explain how the New England Patriots won the first six meetings, from 2001 to ’04) or, even more counterintuitively, the better running game (the Denver Broncos had more rushing yardage in last season’s AFC Championship Game, although not in the regular-season overtime loss).

That’s not why everyone will watch the 16th installment of this rivalry, of course. But it is why the teams engaged in what John Elway dubbed an “arms race” to add parts during free agency, many of them designed to foil the other quarterback. The result is that Brady, 37, and Manning, 38, will lead much more complete teams than they did last season — the Broncos came into this week ranked first against the run and sixth in scoring defense; the Patriots hit midseason slotted second against the pass and 14th in scoring defense — and meet for just the second time in the regular season when their squads hold the AFC’s two best records. And, in what gives this game its glow, when they are playing, remarkably, some of the best football of their respective careers.

In their last four respective games, Manning and Brady have combined for 28 touchdowns, 2,588 yards and a passer rating of 128.2. Since Week 5, they are the league’s top two quarterbacks in passing touchdowns, completion percentage …read more

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