Championship Sunday presents a dream double bill. On the AFC side, the stage is set for Manning-Brady XV, as the Denver Broncos host the New England Patriots. Meanwhile, the NFC Championship Game provides a rubber match between Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawks and Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers, arguably the two deepest and most well-rounded teams in the NFL today.
This begs the question: Which title bout is truly the main event of Championship Sunday?
Greatest QB rivalry ever? Yeah, that's must-see TVEven the latest incarnation of the "What's Your Deal?" Bowl can't top the next installment of the greatest quarterbacking rivalry we might ever witness.
Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are young, and their teams are relatively new powers. You can envision many more of these games in the years to come. But every time Peyton Manning and Tom Brady face off, we should watch a little more closely. They played their first AFC Championship Game against each other a decade ago and there has been only one more of them since. We're not going to get many more of these matchups and, considering their ages and the implications for their legacies, we might never get another one with this much at stake.
Niners-Seahawks has so many enticing layers -- including actual defenseGive me San Francisco at Seattle. What with all of the rule tweaks and changes geared toward the offensive side of the ball, it's nice to see two old-school, defensively aggressive football teams meeting in a game of this magnitude.
I get the Brady-Manning thing, but enough already. If we didn't have to hear about it ad nauseam all week, it would make for a more attractive matchup. The NFC bout is enticing on multiple fronts, not just at quarterback. Throw in the fact that these two clubs are divisional rivals, and it makes for great television ... or radio ... or Game Rewind ... or iPhone app ... or ... Ah, you get the point.
Manning vs. Brady is a heavyweight bout of Ali-Frazier proportionsPeyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. Two of the best QBs -- not only in this era, but of all time. This is Ali vs. Frazier. Their last showdown, back in Week 12 of this season, was an epic tale of two halves that Brady eventually won in overtime.
You have Manning (the greatest statistical in-season QB of all time) vs. Brady (and his three Super Bowl rings). Manning has a less-than-stellar career playoff record of 10-11. Brady has a big edge over Manning in head-to-head games: 10-4, including 2-1 in the postseason. Does this continue? Every season, we debate who is the better QB, and the 2013 campaign is no different. Manning clearly has better talent around him at present, and he's playing at home. Can Brady pull off the upset? Look at what he has done despite a multitude of crippling injuries up and down the Pats' roster.
There are other subplots, too. Broncos head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio both have faced the Belichick/Brady Patriots many times through the years, and the results aren't pretty: Going back through his days as head man of the Carolina Panthers, Fox has one win in six tries, while Del Rio has never beaten New England's dynamic duo, falling short all seven times as a defensive coordinator/head coach.
It's not even close -- Pats-Broncos has legendary promiseThis is one of those questions where you will get an answer or two trying to be cute, making the case that San Francisco-Seattle is better because the 49ers and Seahawks are the more balanced teams or they're fighting for the future soul of the NFC or some nonsense.
Both games are great, but New England-Denver is a game we'll be talking about until we die. Two of the greatest QBs ever, both desperate for one more ring, squaring off at the end of their careers. We haven't seen them face each other in a playoff game in seven years, and there's no guarantee either player will ever get this close to another title again. It's one of the main events in NFL history!
Which game will we remember for years to come? Manning-Brady XVI could make my case citing past history, drama, intrigue, etc., but I'm going in a different direction. While these two games are the ones we would've picked as our dream title bouts at the beginning of the season, let's look ahead for the true answer.
In 10 years, will we talk, at all, about the NFC Championship Game? Will we, as general fans, remember details and plays and be able to recall them at the top of our minds? Have general conversations about them? Probably not. But what about the 15th edition of Brady v. Manning -- which could be the final postseason installment of this rivalry? Do you think we'll still have details and images etched into our memories from this one? Of course we will. It doesn't mean the victor is going to win the Super Bowl, but we'll remember this game more than its counterpart on Sunday.