In the pantheon of all-time great athlete rivalries, we get to one of the best Sunday.
Maybe it's not Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson. Or Martina Navratilova vs. Chris Evert. Or Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier. Or Wayne Gretzky vs. Mario Lemiuex.
But Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning is something special, and they'll go at it one more time with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Brady's Patriots, a week after blowing out Manning's former Colts team, meet his new team, the Broncos, in Denver.
Even though the argument can be made that Brady and Manning are two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, when they've gone head-to-head, it's been fairly one-sided. Brady has gone 10-4 against Manning, and 2-1 in the playoffs. Manning would like nothing more than to even up that postseason mark this weekend.
But no matter what happens, all signs are pointing to this having the potential for another legendary game between the two – even though their respective running games have been great. The two combined for nearly 10,000 yards this season and 80 touchdowns – 55 by Manning. So let the oneupmanship commence, because it could turn into something special.
New England (13-4) at Denver (14-3)
2 p.m. Sunday, CBS. Broncos -6 (55.5).
The skinny: Think this one might be a shootout? These teams combine to average 66 points a game, and Manning just got done rewriting the record book set in part by Brady. Although both teams relied on their running games last week, this feels like the running games will only play a major factor to set up more big passes from either side – or if one team gets a big lead and wants to burn clock. Denver was great at home this year, and the Patriots struggled on the road, going just 4-4. Brady may have the all-time edge over Manning, but this week, Manning gets a little revenge and should head to the Super Bowl with his second team.
MattE’s pick: Broncos 37, Patriots 27
San Francisco (14-4) at Seattle (14-3)
5:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox. Seahawks -3.5 (39.5).
The skinny: The Seahawks are counting on homefield advantage to be huge for them on Sunday. Way back in Week 2 four months ago, they routed the Niners in Seattle, 29-3. But when they had to go on the road, San Fran eked out a win. The Seahawks lost just once in Seattle this year and are one of the NFL's elite favorites playing at home. But the Niners have won eight straight and are playing great when it matters most. Still, Seattle at home should be too much once again, and Colin Kaepernick should get his first road loss in the postseason.
MattE’s pick: Seahawks 26, 49ers 20
Last week: 1-3 straight up, 3-0-1 against the spread. Playoffs: 4-4 straight up, 4-2-2 against the spread. Regular season: 165-90-1 (.647) straight up, 131-115-10 (.533) against the spread