ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It is a matchup that is awash in numbers, but it is rather remarkable how many times Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has faced the New England Patriots in his decorated career.
Especially when you consider Manning has not played in the same division as the Patriots since the league did its most recent realignment following the 2001 season -- Manning’s fourth year in the league. Sunday night will be the 17th time Manning has faced the Patriots since Bill Belichick became the team’s coach in 2000 and the 14th time he will have faced Patriots quarterback Tom Brady head to head -- both totals include three playoff meetings.
After some numbers crunching, as well as another huge nod to the fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information, here are some numbers of note:
Of Manning’s 14 games against Brady, eight have been at New England, including two of the three playoff games. Or as Manning put it with a laugh: “It seems like I sure do go there a lot -- out there to Foxborough. I don’t know how that always works, I guess it’s always random they say, but it’s been strange how that works out.’’
The Patriots and Broncos are already scheduled to play in the 2014 regular season as well since, in the schedule rotation, the AFC East is slated to play the AFC West.
The Patriots held Manning without a touchdown pass in just one of those 14 games -- the AFC divisional-round game to close out the 2004 season, a 20-3 Patriots win.
Manning has a season-low one touchdown pass in the 27-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday night. And while that number often makes defensive coordinators feel pretty good, it shouldn't. With that win, Manning is 149-57 in games in which he throws just one touchdown pass -- a .723 winning percentage.
The Broncos' 398 points are already, with six games remaining, the fifth-most scored in a season in the franchise’s history. Should they score two points Sunday, it will also be just the fifth time the team has scored at least 400 points in a season. The franchise record is 501 points, by the 1998 team.
In 20 previous meetings against Belichick as a team’s defensive playcaller or head coach, Manning has thrown for at least 300 yards in just eight of the games. Manning has thrown for at least three touchdowns in seven of those games, including the last three in a row.
Manning is 7-13 against the Patriots in his career -- a .350 winning percentage -- his worst mark against any team he has faced more than three times.
Inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, Manning is 17-of-19 on pass attempts to Wes Welker with eight touchdowns.
If it seems like Manning is getting rid of the ball faster than most other quarterbacks these days, it’s because he is. Manning has been the fastest in the league this season, holding the ball just 2.83 seconds on average on his dropbacks. He is the only quarterback under three seconds, on average, with the Bengals' Andy Dalton at No. 2 (3.02) and the Lions' Matthew Stafford at No. 3 (3.06). As a result Stafford (12 sacks) and Manning (13 sacks) have been sacked the least among quarterbacks who have started every game this season.