National Football League

Legacy Play

November 5

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

And Tom Brady and Drew Brees are once again proving that to be true this season.

The two elder statesmen quarterbacks of the NFL are now rivals in the NFC South, currently guiding their teams to the playoffs – and possibly into Super Bowl contention – late into their careers.

Brady, 43, and Brees, 41, are the two oldest starting quarterbacks in the league, and their Week 1 face-off was the oldest quarterback matchup in NFL regular season history since the merger in 1970.

And considering the two veteran superstars have a combined 41 seasons of experience between them, it's no shock that they are atop the NFL record books in most of the major passing categories. 

Brady is a six-time Super Bowl champion, with nine championship appearances under his belt, while Brees has won a Super Bowl ring of his own as well. And added to their inherent rivalry is the fact that when they meet this Sunday in Tampa Bay, NFC South supremacy will be up for grabs.

Earlier this season, Brees and the Saints came out victorious over Brady and the Bucs, 34-23, in what was Brady's first game with his new team.

Brady threw two interceptions and didn't look particularly sharp – possibly due to a lack of preseason reps in a new environment – while Brees tossed two touchdown passes.

However, since that matchup, both squads are humming, with the Buccaneers going 6-1 and the Saints going 4-2 since Week 1. 

Brady has thrown 18 touchdowns to only two interceptions in the past seven games, and Sunday's rematch against the Saints will arguably serve as the biggest game of the season for Tampa Bay, considering a loss would give the Saints the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Buccaneers in the NFC South, and it would drop Brady's career record against Brees to 2-5.

Does that mean a majority of the pressure is on Brady in Week 9?

Speak For Yourself co-host Emmanuel Acho believes so.

"Everybody right now is saying Tom Brady and the Bucs are the best in the NFC, and Tom Brady and the Bucs might be the best team in the NFL. So if Tom Brady and the Bucs can't be the Saints – again mind you _ that's a bigger issue. Tom Brady is under a lot more pressure than Drew Brees."

On paper, few would argue against the idea that Brady's weapons might have the edge on Brees'.

Wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin – who might be able to take the field this weekend as he recovers from a finger injury – form arguably the best receiving duo in the NFL. 

The Bucs also boast the likes of future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski, and have now added superstar wideout Antonio Brown, who will suit up this weekend.  

Brees, on the other hand, has played all but one game this season without All-Pro wide receiver and reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas, who has been sidelined with ankle and hamstring injuries.

Even without Thomas, the Saints are firmly in the mix of the division race, and it has a lot to do with the brilliance of Brees, who leads the NFL in completion percentage (73.1).

So while Brady might lead the more talented team, ESPN's Max Kellerman believes Brees is actually the more indispensible player, explaining why on First Take.

"The Saints, year in and year out, we think they have a shot to do it, and a lot of it has to do with the continuity with Drew Brees under center."

The more valuable quarterback entering Sunday is up for debate, as is the veteran gunslinger facing the most pressure. 

What isn't up for to debate is that the two great QBs, entering the twilight of their careers, still have a lot left in the tank, as their legacies are still taking shape in 2020.

You could call Sunday a real legacy play.


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