By Tommy Keeler Jr.
The debate has raged on for years. After Sunday, there should be no question -- Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the National Football League.
There are some out there who believe it's Denver's Peyton Manning. He's having a great year, but I've been on the Brady bandwagon for a few years now. The bottom line to me is Brady has three rings and Manning has one.
I think the New Orleans Saints would agree after Brady and the New England Patriots shocked them with a last-minute 30-27 comeback victory.
Brady doesn't have the wide array of receivers he's had in the past. He doesn't have a reliable tight end, at least not until or if Rob Gronkowski comes back from his injury. Wes Welker is now catching passes from Manning in Denver.
When the season first started I watched the Patriots and thought, how on Earth can Brady and the Patriots score with these receivers? Against the Saints he showed they are doing just fine.
With only 1:13 left, no timeouts, trailing 27-23, Brady marched the team right down the field. No problem. He threw the game-winning touchdown to Kenbrell Thompkins. Who?
Thompkins is second on the team with 21 receptions for 318 yards and leads the team with four touchdowns.
Julian Edelman, who is one of the very few receivers back from last year's team, leads the team with 41 receptions for 411 yards. Brady also has Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola to throw the ball to, although Amendola was injured late in the win over the Saints.
Brady's numbers aren't spectacular this season. They certainly pale in comparison to Manning, who has plenty of solid receivers in the Mile High City. Brady is 136 for 239 for 1,480 yards. He has eight touchdown passes and four interceptions, which is a lot for him at this point in the season.
However, the only numbers that really matter are 5-1. That, of course, is the Patriots' record.
Despite not having a really talented group of receivers around him, I've yet to see Brady get flustered. He stays calm, cool and collected, and that's part of the reason he's the best signal caller in the game. The bottom line is Brady is a winner.
Brady and the Patriots haven't won since 2004, but they've been to the Super Bowl twice since then. The Patriots have been to the Super Bowl five times since Brady was drafted in 2000. That is what I call consistency and Brady is a big, big part of that.
All this being said, I've never been a Brady fan. First of all he played at the University of Michigan, and I am a fan of The Ohio State University. Plus, I've always thought he was too much of a pretty boy, and of course he has the model wife in Gisele Bundchen. But the one thing I've always had for him is respect.
That's just one of the reasons the Patriots were my pick to win the Super Bowl at the start of the season. I simply think they're due, and I believe the 36-year old Brady will get at least one more before he retires.
Of course, I didn't think my pick of the Patriots to win it all was looking too good when they were trailing by four in the final minutes and the Saints had the ball. The announcers on FOX had already given the Patriots a loss and I turned to watch the pre-game show for the Dallas Cowboys-Washington Redskins game.
Then a few minutes later, I noticed everyone on Twitter talking about Brady. And I thought to myself, 'I should have known better.'
There's still a long way to go in the season, but I still think the Patriots have as good a shot as anyone to win it all.
As for the debate about Brady vs. Manning -- I'll take Brady in a big game with the game on the line every time.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd