By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston


BOSTON (CBS) — A website with the bold name of “Cold, Hard Football Facts” is not the type of publication to leave much up for debate, and when it comes to the argument of Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, the website is ruling unequivocally in Brady’s favor.

Kerry Byrne, the site’s founder, put together a 3,500-word post in which he compares the two all-time great quarterbacks, and he said there really should be no debate as to which quarterback is the best. The article’s title paints a pretty clear picture: “No Debate: Facts Show Tom Brady Better Than Peyton Manning.”

“Short version,” Byrne summarized, “Brady is Manning’s statistical equal, despite playing his entire career outdoors with inferior talent, Brady puts up more points, wins more games, and doesn’t [poop] the bed every year in the playoffs.”

Well then.

To dive into detail a bit further, Byrne examined nine different areas in which to compare the two quarterbacks. Those categories:

Statistics
Playing Conditions (Outdoor vs. Dome)
Talent Level Of Wide Receivers
Scoring Efficiency
Strength Of Defense
Win Percentage
Head-To-Head Comparisons
Playoff Success
Playoff Failure (In Manning’s Case)

Some nuggets that really stood out in the story include:

1. Manning is far ahead of Brady in a number of volume stats (touchdown passes, passing yards, etc.), but in terms of efficiency stats (completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, passer rating), the gap between Manning and Brady is not a huge one. In fact, it’s “razor-thin.”

“Manning’s average attempt over the course of his career gains a whopping 7 inches more than Brady’s average career attempt,” Byrne wrote. “Over the course of 1,000 attempts, Manning will throw four more TD passes, but also 6 more INTs. In fact, the biggest single statistical difference between the two is that Manning is more likely to throw picks.”

2. Brady has played 92 percent of his career games outdoors, while Manning has played just 49 percent of his games outdoors. Brady’s stats indoors are much better than Manning’s. Considering he’s instead had to deal with the harsh New England weather for his entire career, it stands to reason that if Brady had the comfort of playing home games inside a dome, it’s realistic to believe his stats would be as good as or better than Manning’s.

3. In what is very surprising information, Byrne noted that Brady’s teams actually score more points than Manning’s. The Patriots, with Brady under center, have averaged 28.1 points per game, while Manning’s average 27.3.

“For a little perspective, only 10 franchises have topped 500 points even once in their history. Brady’s Patriots have topped 500 points four times in the last six seasons alone, and may make it five for seven here in 2014,” Byrne wrote.

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4. Manning’s teams are 5-10 against Brady’s Patriots, and Manning’s teams have a losing record (11-12) in the postseason. Brady, meanwhile, has seen unparalleled success, with his 18 playoff wins (and 18-8 record) and his .774 winning percentage in the regular season.

5. Lastly, in the irreverent category of Manning having trouble controlling his bowels in the postseason every year, Byrne really digs in.

“The bottom line is that his otherwise brilliant career is burdened by one undeniable weakness: he [expletives] the bed almost every [expletive] year in the playoffs,” Byrne wrote. “In fact, based upon regular season production and postseason results, Manning is probably the worst Big Game quarterback of all time, always reserving his worst game of the season for the playoffs.”

And unlike your local sports radio caller, those aren’t just empty words. Byrne went on to list every single one of Manning’s postseason failures in great detail. The man makes a strong case.

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Realistically, though, there’s no one article or argument that could ever conclusively end this debate for football fans. There’s the undeniable fact that emotions are always going to factor in, and with his legendary SNL performance and his regular jolly-old-guy commercial appearances, Manning certainly would beat Brady in a likeability poll in the United States. (If I may interrupt myself: Manning’s fake United Way ad on SNL was great, no doubt, but Brady’s sexual harassment skit never gets any love.)

Byrne’s piece is also rather dismissive of some truly incredible feats accomplished by Manning. The 38-year-old has thrown 513 touchdowns, more than anyone else in history, and just last season he obliterated Brady’s single-season record of 50 TD passes by chucking 55 touchdowns. And that’s after playing just one half of football in Week 17 against Oakland. By contrast, Brady needed to play every second of his Week 17 game in 2007 to narrowly beat Manning’s single-season touchdown record. This year, despite having arguably the worst arm strength of any QB in the league, Manning continues to produce at record levels. He’s on pace to throw for 50 touchdowns and 4,878 yards. While it’s true that it’s a different era in the NFL — one where Matthew Stafford can throw for 10,000 yards across two seasons — that’s still impressive, no matter which way you slice it. And he no longer has the benefit of playing eight home games indoors, which makes it all the more incredible for Manning as he nears 40 years old.

There’s also the fact that this is sports, and in sports, there’s rarely ever a right answer. Though many in New England would side with Byrne that Brady is superior, there will always be an equal number of (or even more) people who use the same stats and figures to argue for Manning’s supremacy.

But for now, Byrne presents perhaps the most thorough and compelling argument for Brady over Manning, and if you ever need to win an argument with your friends, you should read the whole thing. And then you might want to send the man a personal thank you.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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