Manning in 2004 vs. Brady in 2007: A Decisive Answer as to Whose Season Was Better

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Updated: April 1, 2012

Through all the commotion of free agency and Manning being signed by the Denver Broncos, I decided to look back through his career and see all the things that he has accomplished. And to no surprise, one of his greatest accomplishments had some controversy surrounding it.  Although three years later, Brady would go on to break Manning’s record by one, some people say that Peyton’s season was more meaningful, and that his 49 touchdowns were worth more than Brady’s 50. So I decided to look into it, and the results surprised me.

When researching, I began to notice something quite interesting about these touchdowns; although all touchdowns count for six points, some of them, I believe, have more value than others. A touchdown when the score is close seems logically more valuable since the game is on the line, and pressure is high. If the touchdown is scored late in the third or during the fourth quarter of a close game, well I would consider that to be even more valuable. Not only does it increase your lead, it also makes it harder on the other opponent to score twice with minimal time left and momentum against them. Compare these cases with touchdowns scored during the second quarter or touchdowns when your team is already winning by an absurd amount, and you can see that those touchdowns aren’t nearly as valuable.

I realized through calculations that if context of the touchdown were taken into account, many people would probably think differently about who’s record breaking season was more incredible, Manning’s or Brady’s.

Let’s start of slow, with some obvious comparisons. If I told you Player A was able to complete 6.86 passes per touchdown, meanwhile Player B need 7.96 completions, you would think that Player A was more efficient, correct? Also, if Player A threw for 303.8 yards per game, while Player B threw for 300.4, you would once again conclude that Player A was the one with the better stats. In this case, Player A is Peyton Manning.

Moving forward, if I said Player A had thrown for 3.13 touchdowns per game and Player B had thrown for 3.27, you would say Player B was better this time. Furthermore, if I mentioned that Player A, on average, threw for a touchdown when his team was winning by 22.9 points, whereas Player B threw for a touchdown when his team was only winning by 7.8, you would say Player B’s touchdowns were much more valuable since the games were of a closer score. Well in this case, Player B is now Peyton Manning.

Lastly, if I said Player A threw for 23 touchdowns when his team was already winning and 26 when they were losing or it was a tie game, and Player B threw for 33 of his touchdowns when his team was already winning but only 17 when they were losing or tied, you could see that Player A’s touchdowns came at a better time than Player B’s did. Additionally, if I said nine of Player A’s “losing or tie game” touchdowns came in the third or fourth quarter, you would say that is better than Player B only scoring six of these touchdowns. Nevertheless, in this case once again, Player A is Peyton Manning.

Throughout all of these cases, one can see that the more efficient player, and the one with the more valuable touchdowns during their record-breaking seasons, is Peyton Manning. In other words, we can now contextually assume that Peyton’s season was better than Tom’s season, even if Tom had scored one more touchdown. Peyton Manning had a better recording breaking season than Tom Brady.

…and that is the last word.

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