By Mike Wilkening
Cold, Hard Football Facts Oddsmaking Analyst (@mikewilkening)
You have read a lot about Tom Brady and Peyton Manning this week. Hopefully, it’s been good, and hopefully, no sportswriters were harmed in the task of trying to paint the definitive word picture of the 15th meeting of teams led by these first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
Now, unless you’ve got a YouTube clip of writers fainting in press rooms in prose-induced agony, let’s get to the real fun stuff here in the AFC title game, in which Manning's Broncos are 5.5-point favorites over Brady's Patriots.
Let’s begin with a question you may have pondered over the years: Who’s had the better record against the spread: teams quarterbacked by Brady, or teams quarterbacked by Manning?
Well, score one for Team Tom.
Brady's record ATS
Since 2001, the Patriots are 124-87-5 (.588) against the spread in regular-season and postseason games started by Brady.
Assuming the standard 10 percent house edge, a $100 bet on every Brady start in this span would have returned a $2,830 profit.
Underdogs 11 times in 2001; underdogs 7 times in 2002; 2003 underdog five times, 4-0-1 ATS, 4-1 SU;
Broncos favored in 27 straight games; last time underdogs against San Diego.
Manning's record ATS
However, loyalty to Team Manning wouldn’t have been the worst investment strategy, either.
Since Manning entered the NFL in 1998, his teams are 137-118-6 (.536) against the number, good for a cover rate of 53.7 percent.
A flat $100 bet on each of Manning’s regular-season and playoff games would have returned a modest profit of $720, assuming the normal vigorish.
Still, profit is profit, and pro football handicapping isn’t the easiest endeavor.
Manning a money fav; Brady a killer dog
Manning's Broncos are big favorites in this game; Brady's Patriots are obviously a sizable underdog.
That situation sets up a the great money battle of the postseason: Manning's teams have thrived as favorites while Brady's Patriots have excelled the few times they're underdogs.
Consistently covering as an NFL point spread favorite in the NFL is not easy. Nevertheless, Manning’s teams have thrived in this role.
- Manning's teams are 108-89-6 (.548) ATS as favorites during his 15 seasons on the field
A flat $100 bet on all of those favorites would leave you up $1,010 entering Sunday’s AFC title game.
Manning's Broncos, by the way, have been favored in 27 straight games, dating back to the middle of the 2012 season.
However, even the most devoted Manning supporters know to be wary of betting against the Patriots when they find themselves in the role of underdogs.
- Brady's Patriots are a sterling 29-13-1 (.690) ATS as underdogs during his 12 seasons on the field.
This angle alone would have returned a healthy $1,470 for a flat bet of $100 in every game.
Amazingly, Brady's Patriots have been underdogs just 43 times in 12 season, and almost all of those early in the quarterback's career. The Patriots were underdogs 11 times in 2001 and seven times in 2002.
Digging further, we find that the Patriots are 25-18 (.581) straight-up as underdogs in Brady’s starts. Yes, the point spread riches are nice, but the money-line scores are something else. And as of Wednesday afternoon, the Patriots were 2-1 on the money line (+200), per the VegasInsider.com consensus lines.
The Brady-Manning game-by-game history
Were the Patriots to win outright against the Broncos on Sunday, it would mark the fourth time that New England had upset a Manning-led team.
The first such win came on September 21, 2001 — Brady’s first start with New England. The Colts were 13-point favorites at Gillette Stadium against the 0-2 Patriots.
Well, the Patriots romped, 44-13. Soon, Brady had displaced Drew Bledsoe. And before long, we had begun talking of Brady’s time as a starter as an “era,” which says it all.
And in the Brady era, the tussles with Manning-led teams have been among the most memorable.
Below is a handicapper’s summary of all 14 games between Manning and Brady since 2001, with point spreads and totals for all games. Brady and Manning have each been favored six times; two games were pick 'ems.
Some of the findings:
- Underdogs have ruled: Brady and Manning are each 4-2 ATS as dogs
- Manning is 3-3 SU when a favorite; Brady is 5-1 SU as a favorite
- Brady's Patriots won both pick 'em games
- Brady is 8-6 (.571) ATS vs. Manning (2-0 ATS vs. Manning's Broncos)
- 10 of these 14 games have gone OVER
Here is a rivalry that has thrilled — and here is a rivalry that has probably made some money for dialed-in handicappers over the years.
Brady vs. Manning, ATS and O/U
|Sept. 21, 2001||NE||Pats 44||Colts 13||Colts -13 ||Brady||O 44|
|Oct. 11, 2001||Indy||Pats 38||Colts 17||Colts -10||Brady||O 47|
|Nov. 30, 2003||Indy||Pats 38||Colts 34||Colts -4||Brady||O 43.5|
|Jan. 18, 2004||NE||Pats 24||Colts 14||Pats -3.5||Brady||U 42.5|
|Sept. 9, 2004||NE||Pats 27||Colts 24||Pats -3.5||Manning||O 44|
|Jan. 16, 2005||NE||Pats 20||Colts 3||Pick 'em ||Brady||U 52|
|Nov. 7, 2005||NE||Colts 40||Pats 21||Colts -4.5||Manning||O 48.5|
|Nov. 5, 2006||NE||Colts 27||Pats 20||Pats -3||Manning||U 48.5|
|Jan. 21, 2007||Indy||Colts 38||Pats 34||Colts -3.5||Manning||O 47|
|Nov. 4, 2007||Indy||Pats 24||Colts 20||Pats -5.5||Manning||U 56.5|
|Nov. 15, 2009||Indy||Colts 35||Pats 34||Colts -2.5||Brady||O 48.5|
|Nov. 21, 2010||NE||Pats 31||Colts 28||Pats -4||Manning||O 49.5|
|Oct. 7, 2012||NE||Pats 31||Broncos 21||Pats -6||Brady||O 50.5|
|Nov. 24, 2013||NE||Pats 34||Broncos 31||Pick 'em ||Brady||O 54.5|
|Jan. 19, 2014||Denver|| || ||Broncos -5|| ||O/U 56|
Point spread / total data sources: Marc Lawrence point spread archives, Jim Feist point spread archives, VegasInsider.com, "The Linemakers" of Sporting News. Box score information is cited from ProFootballReference.com.