Brady vs. Manning: Which QB has made the most money for NFL bettors?

Put quite simply, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two of the greatest quarterbacks ever. They have each been a boon for NFL bettors, if you happened to bet on them. And if you plan on wagering on the AFC Championship Game, then you have no choice but to choose a side when Brady and the New England Patriots visit Manning and the Denver Broncos as 3-point road favorites Sunday.Below is a simple table of all of the betting statistics for games they have been involved in (not including pushes) throughout their storied NFL careers.


Games Won ATS

Games Lost ATS

Percent Won ATS

Games Over Total

Games Under Total

Percent Games Over

Tom Brady







Peyton Manning







As you can see, both great quarterbacks not only lead their teams to victory but also, more often than not, their bettors.

Brady’s record against the spread is so great that it is actually statistically significant, with a p-value of 0.016. Brady’s teams have performed above expectations at such an absurdly high level that is one of the few tips I have discovered that has statistical significant: Just bet on Brady. In Brady we trust.

Of course, Manning has been great against the spread as well. But it isn’t that helpful knowing that both have been great against the spread since they play each other in the AFC Championship Sunday and they both can’t cover the closing spread. Luckily, they have faced off enough times that we can look at the results and see if there are any trends there.

When Brady plays Manning

They have played each other 16 times, basically once a year for Brady’s entire career. Of those 16 times, 12 matchups have come in the regular season and four in the playoffs. So – we ask the $1 million question – when they’ve gone head-to-head, who has been the better value for bettors?

It is close. Brady’s teams have covered the spread eight times and Manning’s have six times, with two pushes, so a slight edge to Brady. But in the four playoff matchups each have covered the spread twice.

As for betting total, it’s a little more lopsided with 11 of the 16 matchups going Over the total (69% Over). The bad news? During the playoffs only one of the four have finished Over – less than half.

Now, this is not a typical Brady vs. Manning matchup. As mentioned before, most of the Brady vs. Manning matchups have gone Over the total, suggesting high-scoring shootouts.

But with Manning not having his greatest year (putting it mildly) and the Patriots being so injured, offensive expectation may be tempered a little bit for this bout. This is reflected in the betting total, which at 44.5 is the lowest of their matchups since 2004. Below is a cool little graph that shows how the totals of Brady vs. Manning matchups have changed over time.

As you can see, there is a general upwards trend… and then a huge dip down for this year. This year’s game is not like the others, and therefore perhaps trends that held up in prior years won’t hold for this year.

Harrison Chase is the Co-President of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, a student-run organization at Harvard College dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management.


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