Saints vs. Patriots = Brees vs. Brady
Tonight’s New Orleans Saints versus the New England Patriots has all the makings of an epic game. The Patriots are the most prolific team of the past decade with three Super Bowl wins and four appearances. They have a dominate defense that always seems to make the big play, as well as having one of the top quarterbacks and wide receivers in the league. The Saints on the other hand, usually don’t get the same credit as the Patriots and other great teams. Part of that has to do with their history; never winning a Super Bowl (or even going to one), and being an up and down playoff contender the past few seasons. Another reason why the Saints don’t get respect is that with the exception of Drew Brees, they don’t have the star power that New England, Indianapolis, Minnesota and other great teams have.
Also when it comes to star power, Brees doesn’t hold a candle to Tom Brady. Yet with the exception of Super Bowl rings, Brady doesn’t have the numbers to back up the argument that Brady is a superior quarterback to Brees. All you ever hear about when it comes to quarterbacks is that its Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and then everyone else (side note…what exactly does Brett Favre have to do to get out of this ‘everyone else’ purgatory?). If you take a look at the numbers Brees is equal to Brady (if not better).
First let’s look at Tom Brady. In 121 starts (123 games) Brady is 2,562 of 4,046 (completions and attempts) for 29,495 yards and has been sacked 217 times. He has thrown 217 touchdowns to 93 interceptions for a 93.6 quarterback rating. Brees in 116 starts (117 games) is 2,552 of 3,970 for 29,004 yards and has been sacked 152 times. He has thrown for 190 touchdowns to 108 interceptions for a 90.7 quarterback rating. Those numbers are about as close as can be. And when you factor in the five more starts for Brady, his completions, yards and sacks aren’t nearly as comparable to Brees’ numbers (unless Brees was behind the Redskins’ offensive line, I doubt he would get sacked 65 times in five games). Now in fairness, Brady’s touchdown numbers and interception numbers are still impressive even if Brees had five more games to his resume, as there is no way he would throw for 27 touchdowns in five games and the picks would only go up. What is worth noting, is that Brees’ numbers since joining the Saints have been exceptional, and his interceptions, sacks and incomplete passes have all gone down significantly, while his yards and touchdowns have improved. In reality, Brees has been an elite quarterback these past four years, but still carries the weight of his early Charger days with him (his last two years in San Diego weren’t too shabby either).
So why is one quarterback considered a surefire Hall of Famer and the other considered just a very good quarterback? Winning games, and winning Super Bowls. Why didn’t I consider those numbers for comparison? Because regardless what people try to tell you football is a team sport, and games aren’t won or lost by a quarterback alone. How many Super Bowl rings do Dan Marino, Warren Moon, Fran Tarkenton, Dan Fouts and Jim Kelly have combined? The answer is ZERO, despite the fact that all five are Hall of Famers and elite quarterbacks of their day. Is Troy Aikman a better quarterback than Dan Marino because he won Super Bowls? No, (though he might be a luckier quarterback) Aikman is deserving of a Hall of Fame bust, but he isn’t a better signal caller. And I think the same can be said here for Brady and Brees. Brady has played every single season on a playoff caliber team. Brees has played with some great players, but not great teams, until maybe this season. So while everyone else on the planet might want Brady over Brees. I’ll take Brees every Sunday (and Monday Nights) simply because he does more with less.
I don’t think tonight’s game will settle the debate one way or another, but I think the Saints will win tonight, behind a good balanced attack led by Brees. I’ll say the Saints win 31-24.