ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the Coke and Pepsi of contemporary quarterbacks, the biggest brand names at their position, names that will always be linked.
They’ve gone head to head 13 times. With nine wins, Brady has an edge that almost seems insurmountable. Manning will point to his eight trips to Foxborough (“I don’t know how that always works,” Manning joked. “I guess it’s always random they say, but it’s been strange how that works out.”) as a reason he has a losing ledger against Brady.
For as much as they will be measured against each other, their mutual respect his incredibly high.
“I think it’s pretty well documented my respect for Tom as a quarterback,” Manning said. “The way he prepares, just the way he is better each season than the one before, which tells you how he obviously approached the offseason, takes care of his body, challenges himself every single year. Those are a couple of the many things that are impressive about him as a quarterback.”
Manning leads the league with 3,572 passing yards and 34 touchdowns, while Brady’s numbers (2,552 yards, 14 TDs) have taken a hit as he’s adjusted to new receivers.
But the Patriots are still eighth in the league in scoring and they’re two games removed from hanging 55 on the Steelers.
With Brady under center, Manning said his offense will have to be prepared to put up numbers.
“Our offense knows what kind of challenge our defense is facing going against Tom and that offense,” Manning said. “We’re studying film all week of their defense and the multiple looks they give you. It’s been impressive. They’ve had a number of major injuries yet they really apply that ‘next man up’ philosophy and they’ve had some different guys step in and do a great job.
“But we know we’re going to have to be on our game offensively, because their offense is capable of scoring points, scoring points quickly, and certainly if you had a lead how quickly they’re able to come back because of Tom and that offense. So we feel like we do have to be on our game offensively in order to compete.”
A day after practicing in 60-degree weather, the Broncos were going through drills in 2 inches of snow.
Frigid weather hit the area in the early morning, and the Broncos decided to work in it.
“Yesterday was about 65 [degrees], very warm,” interim head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Today it was nice because that’s what we’re going to face not only this week but as we finish the year. Good for us to go out and work in the elements.”
The low for Sunday night in Foxborough is expected to be 18 degrees.
Even though he’s used to the weather having grown up in Minnesota, it didn’t make it easier for wideout Eric Decker.
“It was too much like home,” he said. “It was cold. I don’t think it’s anything you really get used to. You just embrace the cold, but it was a good practice for us because we know this weekend is going to be a little bit chilly.”
After giving up 251 rushing yards to the Patriots last season (151 to Stevan Ridley), the Broncos are making it a priority to cut off the Patriots’ ground game.
“They hit us with a lot of tempo last year,” said defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. “I think that the pace they were going at caught us off guard. We’re prepared for that now. We’ve got a good game plan in store for it. So we should be all right.”
The Broncos have the fourth-best run defense in the league, giving up just 927 yards. The Patriots have the league’s No. 9 rushing offense (1,269 yards).
“They ran it well,” Del Rio said. “They did a nice job. They outexecuted us the last time we got together and hopefully we’re a little bit better this time around.”Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.