A couple days ago, WSJ Numbers Guy Carl Bialik asked me to compare Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. I had recently looked at a comparison of Kurt Warner to other great QBs of his era, and for some reason Drew Brees hadn't crossed my mind. When I did run the career numbers for Brees, the results were surprisingly strong. If Brees plays well and the Saints win, perhaps his name needs to be in the discussion for the Hall of Fame.
Here is how the two Super Bowl QBs' careers compare in terms of Win Probability Added (WPA) since 2000. This includes playoffs and Super Bowls.
And here is each QB's Expected Points Added (EPA) by year:
On a per-game basis, Manning's WPA is +0.22 Wins/G, and Brees' is +0.16 Wins/G. Manning's EPA per game is +7.1 Points/G, and Brees' is +4.4 Points/G.
Manning unquestionably leads in stats like these, but Brees' numbers are actually second in the decade, ahead of Tom Brady's. Sunday's Super Bowl will arguably feature the two best QBs of the last ten years. Perhaps it's more accurate to say they're the most heroic QBs, and not necessarily the 'best.' Either way, if both players perform up to their billing, it should be a great game.