Yes, please: Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady

Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady for the 17th time, this time with a Super Bowl berth at stake?

Yes, please.

The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots will meet next week in the AFC Championship Game, setting up Chapter 17 of the Brady-Manning matchup.

We’ll appreciate this version even more because as the events of mid-to-late November remind us, there are no givens in football. Brady-Manning 17 was supposed to have taken place by now, a highly anticipated meeting in Denver on Nov. 29. Then Manning’s foot injury changed plans and a national television audience was officially introduced to Brock Osweiler, Manning’s eventual successor in Denver.

Brady and Manning chatted briefly on the field before that game, sharing a quick embrace. The mutual admiration between them is well-documented.

“There’s nobody that has more respect for Peyton than me, outside of probably his parents and his brothers,” Brady said leading into the November game, which Denver won in overtime 26-20, handing the Patriots their first loss of the season. “If anybody can appreciate what he’s accomplished it’s me, so he’s just been remarkable in every part of his career. He’s been a tremendous player.”

In December, when Manning was identified in an Al Jazeera report as one of several high-profile athletes who were supplied performance-enhancing drugs from an anti-aging clinic, Brady shared his public support.

“I would consider him a good friend and you hate to see your good friends go through anything like that,” Brady said on sports radio WEEI. “He’s been a great player for this league, for his teams, for his organizations. He’s been one of the best players to ever play the game. Those are always challenging times, but he’s a tough guy. I know that. He’s a very mentally and physically tough guy. ...

“I fully support Peyton and my friendship with him over the years. He’s a guy that I can always count on and he’s been someone who has always been so supportive of me. We’ll have lifelong friendship.”

And now, they’ll also add a 17th chapter to their storied rivalry -- Brady playing at an extremely high level, and Manning looking to recapture some old magic as he relies more on veteran savvy at this point.

Indeed, good things come to those who wait.