news 6 days ago

Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees: Inside the numbers of a historic QB playoff matchup

Sporting News — (Bill Bender)

Tom Brady and Drew Brees still have something to prove in their 40s.  

That's how Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre sees it. Favre – who played until he was 41 – says both quarterbacks clearly still have the desire to compete at the highest level.   

"That's what motivates a player like Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning and guys that played later in their careers." Favre told Sporting News before the season. "As much as they've accomplished; that's what kind of what drives them. They want to go over and beyond what you come to expect of them."   

That hasn't changed in 2020.  

Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion in New England, led Tampa Bay to a 11-5 record in the regular season and a wild-card victory against Washington. Brees, who signed a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints this offseason, led the Saints to a 12-4 record and a first-round bye.    

Now, they meet in the divisional playoffs at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 6:40 p.m. on Sunday.  

Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees

From a statistical standpoint, this is the greatest matchup of all time. Brees ranks first in NFL history in passing yards (80,358) and second in passing TDs (571). Brady is first in passing TDs (581) and second in passing yards (79,204). Manning and Favre are the only other two quarterbacks with at least 70,000 yards and 500 TD passes for their career.   

Brees owns a 98.7 career passer rating. That ranks fifth all time. Brady, who has a 97.3 passer rating, ranks seventh.  

This season, Brady has passed for 4,633 yards with 40 TDs and 12 interceptions. Brees missed four games but still passed for 2,942 yards with 24 TDs and six interceptions.  

Oldest QB matchup ever  

Brady, 43, and Brees, who turns 42 on Friday, made history on Sept. 13 when the Buccaneers and Saints met in Week 1. That was the oldest quarterback matchup in NFL regular-season history since the 1970 merger.  

That shattered the record Favre (38) and Vinny Testaverde (44) set when they were a combined 82 years, 44 days when they met in a matchup between the Packers and Panthers on Nov. 18, 2007.   

Brady and Brees reset that record in Week 9 and will do it again on Sunday. They will a combined 85 years and 169 days old. The fact two future Hall of Famers in their 40s will be on the same field three times in one season is nothing short of amazing.   

MORE: Divisional picks against the spread

How many season has Tom Brady played in the NFL?

Tom Brady is in his 21st season in the NFL. He made his NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000, taking over for starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe in a blowout Thanksgiving loss to the Lions. 

How many seasons as Drew Brees played in the NFL?

Drew Brees is in his 20th season in the NFL. He made his NFL debut on Nov. 4, 2001 with the Chargers, taking over for starting quarterback Doug Flutie in a loss to the Chiefs.

First head-to-head matchup 

Brady and Brees had their first head-to-head matchup on Oct. 2, 1999 in a Big Ten matchup between No. 4 Michigan and No. 11 Purdue at Michigan Stadium.  

The Wolverines won in a decisive 38-12 blowout. Brady finished 15 of 25 for 250 yards and two TDs. He threw both TDs in the first quarter to give Michigan a quick 14-3 lead.  

Brees was 20 of 49 for 293 yards, a TD and an interception.  

Brady vs. Brees head-to-head NFL matchups 

Brees and Brady have met head-to-head in the NFL seven times. Here is a closer look at those matchups:  

San Diego 21, New England 14 (Sept. 29, 2002)  

Brees (104 yards, TD) benefitted from a monster game from LaDainian Tomlinson, who had 217 yards and a pair of TDs. Brady had 353 passing yards, two TDs and two interceptions in the loss. Strangely, neither team made the postseason.  

San Diego 41, New England 17 (Oct. 2, 2005)  

Brees was 19 of 24 for 248 yards and two TDs in a one-sided blowout at Gillette Stadium. Brady finished with 224 yards, a TD and an interception in the loss. The Chargers did not make the playoffs that season. Brady lost his first playoff start to Denver in the AFC Divisional round.  

New Orleans 38, New England 17 (Nov. 30, 2009)  

The Saints routed the Patriots in the Superdome. Brees put on a show with 371 passing yards and five TDs. Brady finished with 237 yards and two interceptions. New Orleans won Super XLIV that season.  

New England 30, New Orleans 27 (Oct. 13, 2013)  

The Patriots won a thriller at Gillette Stadium when Brady hit Kenbrell Thompkins for the game-winning TD pass with five seconds left. Brady finished with 269 passing yards. Brees had 236 passing yards with a TD and an interception. Both teams fell short of the Super Bowl that season.  

New England 36, New Orleans 20 (Sept. 17, 2007)  

Brady led a victory at the Superdome with 447 yards and three TDs. Brees finished with 356 yards and two TDs. The Patriots lost Super Bowl LII to the Eagles. The Saints lost to the Vikings in miraculous fashion in the NFC Divisional round.  

MORE: Hall of Fame QBs who switched teams 

New Orleans 34, Tampa Bay 23 (Sept. 13, 2020)

In a Week 1 NFC South showdown, Brees passed for 160 yards and a pair of TDs. Brady finished 23 of 36 for 239 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. Brees' fourth-quarter TD pass to Emmanuel Sanders opened up a 14-point lead that the Buccaneers could not overcome. 

New Orleans 38, Tampa Bay 3 (Nov. 8, 2020) 

The Saints routed the Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football. The Saints led 28-0 at halftime, and Brees finished with 222 passing yards, four TDs and no interceptions. It was a night to forget for Brady, who finished with 209 passing yards and three interceptions. 

Brady or Brees to the NFC championship? 

In those seven head-to-head matchups, Brees is 135 of 208 passing (65 percent). He averages 242.4 passing yards per game with 18 TDs and one interception. Brady is 172 of 274 passing (62.8 percent). He averages 282.4 passing yards per game with 11 TDs and eight interceptions.  

This is the first playoff matchup between the two quarterbacks. Both teams were among the top-five favorites to win the Super Bowl before the season started. The Saints were fourth at 11/1, and the Buccaneers were fifth at 14/1. The Saints are 3.5-points favorites in Sunday's matchup. 

If the Packers win on Saturday, then the winner of this matchup will face Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. 

That's a quarterback matchup worth seeing, too.