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Favre And Manning In Another Dream Matchup


Before Monday night's kickoff in Philadelphia, Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens compared his matchup with Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss to one between Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.

"You can put it up there like the NBA, when they had Michael vs. Magic," Owens declared.

Now, on the very next weekend, the NFL gets another of those dream matchups that is so authentic, Dan Rather couldn't make it up.

Inside Indianapolis' RCA Dome and on televisions across the country, Canton-bound Packers quarterback Brett Favre will square off against Canton-bound Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

On the same stage, on the same day.

Outside of Michael Vick vs. Tom Brady, there is no arms race that could be any more appealing than Favre and Manning. Think of it as the purest form of fantasy football.

"They're both great quarterbacks, especially when they're playing from behind," Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said last December, after his team lost to Manning and the Colts on Oct. 6, then Favre and the Packers on Nov. 16. "They're great two-minute quarterbacks that don't get rattled. Whenever you're ahead of them, you have to stay ahead of them. You have to get touchdowns instead of field goals. That's a big difference.

"Otherwise, those quarterbacks are going to remind you of John Elway in his days with the Broncos. They both tend to be at their best coming from behind, although it's pretty easy for them to get ahead and stay ahead, too."

They are model marksmen -- these two Pro Bowl quarterbacks -- as well as models of consistency.

Favre has started 191 consecutive games, a record for NFL quarterbacks. Manning is fourth on the list of consecutive quarterback starts with 98. Favre has thrown at least one touchdown in 27 straight games, a mark that Manning matched during 1998-'99. Favre led the NFL in touchdown passes last season with 32. Right behind him -- second -- was Manning with 29.

Favre might be the NFL's most marketable player.

Manning is not far behind. It is this weekend's Owens-Moss matchup, another Michael-vs.-Magic-type meeting, as intriguing as any the NFL can offer.

For now, there are other assessments to be offered up.

About Favre, Kiffin said: "Great competitor. He doesn't like to run, but he will. He takes hits but never misses games. Brett's not the greatest passer in history, but 11 vs. 11, he moves the chains. He's just so tough."

About Manning, Kiffin said: "He's just so explosive. Very smart. Reads defenses well. Looks off his receivers. They strike so quickly. It's boom! Boom! Dump off a pass for three yards. Boom! They really go for the big plays."

Aside from the big plays and big throws, what makes the matchup even more rare is the rarity of it. From 1953-1966, the Packers and Colts played twice per year. But Favre and Manning have been pitted vs. each other only once before, in 2000. It turned into the kind of game forecasted for Sunday.

The Packers jumped out to a 19-0 lead. Manning threw three second-half touchdowns to erase the lead, but Favre finished the day with 301 passing yards and two touchdowns, keying the Packers' 26-24 victory at Lambeau Field.

Sunday's rematch might be the final one. The Packers and Colts are not scheduled to meet again until 2008, meaning this could be the last time that Favre and Manning are on the same stage -- until some Hall of Fame reunion dinner.

So make the time. Set your TIVO. Stock your refrigerator. And grab a comfortable spot on your couch. Fantasy football kicks off at 4:15 p.m. ET.

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