Not going to turn this into a Manning-Brady debate, as it's way off topic, but please. You mean the awesome Patriots that finished '99 on a 2-6 downslide, went 5-11 the following season, and was 0-1 (and on their way to 0-2 and not looking good at all) in 2001 before Brady got his chance in the second game of the year (due to Bledsoe being injured)? Hate to break it to you, but Brady didn't exactly come into a powerhouse team. Going into the 2001 season, in an informal poll, GMs around the league the picked the Pats as the least likely to win a Super Bowl in the next five seasons...he basically WAS thrown into the ringer...the Pats had lost 18 out of 25 games when he became their QB. Brady comes in, and just like that, the team has been a consistent winner ever since. No one does it all by himself, but do you think maybe Brady had just a bit more to do with the Patriots' success than you seem to be willing to get him credit for? You make it sound like he's been along for the ride all this time, when he's managed to lead his teams to a whole lot of wins with good defenses AND bad, and with both mediocre receivers and backs and terrific ones. He almost got to the Super Bowl with Reche Friggin' Caldwell as his #1 receiver in 2006. Peyton had a lot of terrific players around him on offense for much of his Colts career. BTW, Peyton's teams have been one-and-done 8 out of 12 times in the playoffs...Brady's teams have seen that happen just twice.
Look, I think they're both clearly the top QBs of their generation, few would try to dispute that, and QBs, like NHL goalies, tend to get too much credit AND blame for their teams' success and failure. I used to get caught up in the Manning/Brady debate, but I've gotten to the point where I simply appreciate that I got to see two all-time greats do their thing, and quite a bit on opposing teams, in very memorable fashion.
But if you're going to be a Peyton fanboy, at least acknowledge the facts before just blabbing "Well, Peyton's superior, mostly because I say so."
The Pats were .500 or better the four seasons before 2000. Brady came into a situation very similar to Rothlesiberger did in his first season, where the Steelers were 6-10 the previous year, but were a good team before that and were very well coached. Might explain why the Pats were able to win ten games with Matt Cassell as the starter. Meanwhile, the one year Manning isn't playing, the Colts are the worst team in league. And for all of Brady's "clutchness", people tend to overlook that he lost the Super Bowl throwing to one of the best WR's of all time, and to a Wildcard opponent, no less.
Before Manning got to the Colts, that team was the laughing stock of the NFL, for years. Manning got the crap knocked out of him his first year. There are a lot of QBs that never recover from that sort of thing. And with Manning, we know for a fact that he could dominate just the same on a completely different team, and coming off not playing for a year and as an older player.
As you said, it's pretty much hair splitting. But as I've said way back when, if you can go back in time and be the GM of the 2002 Texans, and had to choose Brady or Manning, the obvious choice is Manning.