FOXBOROUGH – Maybe it's the fact the Patriots have won four straight games. Maybe it's his passing numbers over those four games, when he's completed 69 percent of his throws, with 14 touchdowns and no interceptions. Or maybe it's because Halloween is Friday.
Whatever the reason, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was in a playful, joking mood on Wednesday. He even took a good-natured shot at Peyton Manning, his quarterback counterpart on Sunday in perhaps the most important regular-season game the Patriots will play in 2014.
For the 16th time, Brady and Manning will be the starting quarterbacks in a game involving their teams. Like almost all the others, this one will have regular-season meaning with a shot of postseason implication. Since the Patriots are 6-2 and the Broncos 6-1, Sunday's winner will have the inside track at the top playoff seed in the AFC. That could be important: the Broncos had the No. 1 seed last season, and beat the Patriots in Denver to win the AFC Championship game and advance to the Super Bowl.
Brady and the Patriots, who beat Manning and the Broncos last season at Gillette Stadium, will look to do it again.
"He's a great player, and you just know you're going to get one of the best offenses in the league. What that means for me is our offense has to be at our best," Brady said. "You can't think you're going to go out and score 10 points and win the game. I don't think any of our games have ever really come down to that."
It never has. In the 15 previous games involving Brady and Manning, the winning team has scored at least 20 points every time; at least 30 points nine times; and at least 40 points twice. The average number of points scored by the winning team in those 15 Brady-Manning games: 31.8.
Expect another high-scoring duel on Sunday: The Broncos lead the league in points per game (32.0), with the Patriots third (29.7).
Brady was asked about his rivalry with Manning, and whether the 17-year NFL veteran motivates him. Brady, who at 37 is a year younger than Manning, couldn't resist.
"I'm pretty self-motivated," Brady said. "He's always been someone I've really always looked up to and studied and admired. He is older than me, has more playing experience than me, so maybe when I'm his age I'll be playing as well as that."
Brady also discussed Denver's punishing pass rush, noting that Von Miller (nine) and DeMarcus Ware (seven) have combined for 16 of the Broncos' 23 sacks. But the press conference mood was light. Brady laughed, joked, and didn't hide his feelings about Halloween.
"Halloween's a great night, especially around here," Brady said. "My kids are coming into their own, so it'll be a fun night. Pull the pillowcases off the pillows and go to town."
Video: Tom Brady on rivalry with Peyton Manning
Tom Brady talks about Peyton Manning