How does the Broncos loss in Super Bowl XLVIII alter the Brady/Manning debate, if at all?
Jason: I don't think it alters the great debate much, but it did contribute to the old narrative that Manning has the numbers, but Brady has the rings. Lombardi trophies shouldn't be the only measure of a player's success, but when two guys are pretty close in terms of ability and numbers, it's a damn nice tiebreaker. Denver's loss all but assures that Brady will retire with more titles, and that's worth something. But even if Brady comes back and wins a fourth championship and sends Peyton off to an early retirement with four lonely fingers surrounding his lone ring, it won't dissuade folks from getting entranced by Manning's genius commercials or his hand signals and references to Midwestern cities at the line of scrimmage.
Raj: It definitely makes Brady a winner. Even if Manning had won that Super Bowl, it still would be debated if he was the greatest of all time. This is because Brady has done more and that too consistently without many pro bowlers. Manning lost with all of his star receivers in front of the world by 35 points. That really tarnishes his chances of being the best quarterback of all time. It's a no-brainer, Brady takes it.
Rick: For me, it didn’t alter the debate that much because I don’t think Brady would have beaten that Seattle Seahawks defense. Peyton Manning ran into one of the best defenses in the NFL. I think both quarterbacks are at worst in the top 10 all-time. You can still make the case that Peyton is a top five quarterback. You can put the blame on Manning, but Seattle should get more of the credit for their dominating performance on defense. The fact of the matter is I take more stock in Manning’s 400 yard performance that he put on the Patriots in the AFC title game. Brady still ranks higher than Peyton on my list, but it’s a lot closer than what it was a season ago.
Derek: Peyton Manning is going to have to do quite a lot to remove the stink from Sunday's game off his resume. It's one thing to get thrashed in the Super Bowl when you're the plucky underdog who happened to sneak into the game and are facing a juggernaut (San Diego vs. San Francisco, Super Bowl XXIX, for example). It's another thing to have the "greatest" offensive season in NFL history, enter the game as the favorites, and completely crap the bed by scoring a measely eight points.
If Peyton won, he'd have two titles, five MVP's, the TD record, the yardage record... Suddenly, you're making a strong case that could overpower the extra title that Brady holds over him.
Now, Peyton is 1-2 in Super Bowls. He won one against Rex Grossman, threw the game-clinching INT in the second one, and got decimated in the third. He's 11-12 in the post-season and has some staggeringly bad losses in which his team was favored. Compare that to Brady's 3-2 record in Super Bowls, his 18-8 record in the playoffs which includes several huge underdog victories, his 2 MVP awards, his superior head-to-head record, and other records (21-game win streak, 16-0 season, most coach/QB wins, 100+ games over .500, best all-time win percentage, etc. etc.) and I'm not sure how it's really even a debate.