One reliable preview. One key factor to decide the game. It's that simple.
Air & Ground matchup of Week 9
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS) -- Arguably the top two quarterbacks of this generation, and among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, will square off once again (for the 16th time, if you're keeping track, which we are).
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady -- two of the three winningest quarterbacks in NFL history -- will duel on the Gillette Stadium FieldTurf in Foxborough on Sunday afternoon, with Brady aiming to build on his 10-5 edge in his matchups against No. 18. Brady has won four of the last five games against Manning. However, that one loss was a doozy, the 2013 AFC Championship Game, in which Manning was brilliant (400 yards, two touchdowns) and Brady was pedestrian (277 yards, one touchdown). This game marks the first time in NFL history in which the two starting quarterbacks each have at least 150 career regular-season wins.
Brady-Manning Bowl XVI features two of the top three scoring offenses in the NFL. Manning has an embarrassment of riches at the receiver position with which to work. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas form a fearsome pass-catching foursome, which helps Manning build on his already ridiculous statistics. After a nightmarish Monday night performance against the Kansas City Chiefs, Brady has been spectacular. If you exclude his "Monday Night Football" game against the Chiefs (1 TD, 2 picks), Brady has thrown for 17 touchdowns and no interceptions, and 14 of those touchdown passes have come since that Week 4 debacle.
While Manning has an arsenal of receivers to throw, none might be as devastating as Brady's favorite target: Rob Gronkowski. In Week 8, he obliterated the Chicago Bears for 149 yards and three touchdowns as the Patriots posted a 50-burger. Gronkzilla -- who has the NFL's most receiving touchdowns since 2010 (49) -- leads all NFL tight ends with 558 receiving yards this season. He's on pace for 1,116 yards and 14 touchdowns. In four career games against the Broncos, Gronkowski has 25 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns.
Great Moments in Air & Ground History
Patriots 34, Broncos 31 (OT) (Week 12 of 2013 season) -- The Patriots rallied from a 24-point halftime deficit to emerge as 34-31 victors with a furious second-half rally led by Brady. Brady finished the game with 344 yards and three touchdowns passing. In building their early advantage, the Broncos rode running back Knowshon Moreno, who finished the game with 224 yards and one touchdown rushing. While it was a disappointing setback for Manning and the Broncos (take a look), Denver would get the best of New England in the AFC Championship Game before getting stomped in epic fashion at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.