From 2001 until their final matchup in 2015, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning developed one of the greatest one-on-one rivalries in sports history, right up there with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.
The gravity of the Brady-Manning rivalry makes any comparison to their rivalry newsworthy. That's exactly what happened this week, when Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd compared the quarterback matchup in Cincinnati's upcoming game between Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes to the greatest quarterback rivalry in league annals.
"It's going back to that quarterback fight. I look at it like Manning and Brady," Boyd said, via the team's website. "You can't stop them. It comes down to whoever excels and takes advantage of their opportunities and drives and scores points. These are the types of games that we have to take care of the football and not turn it over."
It's early, but Boyd's comparison has some legs. Burrow and Mahomes already have playoff history, as Cincinnati rallied to upset Kansas City in overtime in last January's AFC Championship Game. Earlier that month, the Bengals won a high-scoring game over the Chiefs that saw Burrow throw for 446 yards and four touchdowns.
Both quarterbacks are enjoying stellar 2022 campaigns. Mahomes, who already has league and Super Bowl MVPs on his mantle, is in the driver's seat to win his second league MVP. He currently leads the league with 3,585 yards and 29 touchdowns. Mahomes' play -- which is even more impressive given the offseason trade of Tyreek Hill -- has led the Chiefs to a 9-2 record.
Burrow has rebounded from a slow start. Last year's Comeback Player of the Year, Burrow has completed 68.2% of his passes for 3,160 yards with 23 touchdowns eight interceptions. Burrow has continued to have success of late despite being without top wideout Ja'Marr Chase for four games and Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon for the past one-and-a-half games. The play of Burrow has helped the Bengals compile a 7-4 record after an 0-2 start.
Clearly, the talent of both quarterbacks makes any matchup between their teams a must-see. And given the excitement level of their last two matchups, it's safe to say that Mahomes and Burrow may be on their way to having a rivalry similar to the one Brady and Manning shared during their legendary careers. Given their ages (Mahomes is 27, Burrow is 25), the two quarterbacks should have plenty of matchups against one another over the next decade-plus.
Boyd was comfortable comparing Burrow-Mahomes with Brady-Manning. It was a different story, however, when he was asked which of the two was Brady and which one played the role of Manning.
"It's Burrow and Mahomes. I wouldn't compare them," Boyd said. "Those are two guys with records for fastest two quarterbacks to reach 10,000 yards. It's hard to stop Burrow and hard to stop Mahomes. At the end of the day, Burrow is two up. Whichever one you want to pick, whoever got the most wins, there you go."