When Matt Ryan and Drew Brees play Sunday, it won’t just be the latest installment in a long-running rivalry. It’ll also be the continuation of a historic series of matchups between two durable, great players.
Per Mike Triplett at ESPN, this will be the 20th time Ryan and Brees have met on the same field. That’s the most ever between two QBs in the Super Bowl era, as he notes, beating out Dan Marino-Jim Kelly and John Elway-Dave Krieg. If you wanted to argue that this is the greatest QB rivalry in NFL history, I’d be hard-pressed to argue against you. It helps that both of these players may someday reach Canton.
Per @ESPNStatsInfo this will be the 20th meeting between Saints' Drew Brees and Falcons' Matt Ryan as starting QBs - most in Super Bowl era. Brees leads the series 11-8. (CORRECTION from earlier): Dan Marino-Jim Kelly and John Elway-Dave Krieg are tied for second with 18 meetings— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) September 20, 2018
Brees owns the all-time advantage in that clash—this will not surprise you, as the Saints were fairly dominant at times in the Smitty years—but it’s close enough that Ryan could erase the lead in 2018 and 2019. Both players have had success against their opponent, too:
Brees: 688-913, 7,657 yards, 46 touchdowns, 26 interceptions
Ryan: 452-715, 5,603 yards, 32 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Chances are we’re nearing the end of this rivalry, as Brees probably has 2-3 years left in him, and Ryan’s probably anywhere from 4-7 years away from the end of his career. That means that as much as we despise Brees and the Saints more generally, we should take some time to appreciate just how great this rivalry has been, in large part because of the play of the two men who have been under center for nearly every game this past decade.