Close your eyes, Falcons fans - Brady and Brees share playoff stage

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talks with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) after the Buccaneers' loss to the Saints on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Doug Clifford/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talks with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) after the Buccaneers' loss to the Saints on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Doug Clifford/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Last week to much critical acclaim, they aired the New Orleans-Chicago playoff game on the kid’s network Nickelodeon. Fountains of Nick’s trademarked green ooze - cartoonized, mind you - erupted after every touchdown in what was the network’s most watched show in four years. Presumably, with New England out of the playoffs, football needed more slime.

Anyway, people are having great fun suggesting other alternative networks for this Sunday’s Saints game.

People like 43-year-old Tom Brady, one half of the oldest quarterback matchup in playoff history when his Bucs meet New Orleans and the just-turned-42-year-old Drew Brees. Brady re-tweeted a spoof about the game airing on the History Channel, complete with art of both quarterbacks in full grey beards.

Might we also suggest PBS in a special episode of “Antiques Roadshow.”

Or MeTV, where such classics as “Leave it to Beaver” and “Perry Mason” live. Broadcast the game in black and white, of course. Although if it preempts my “Matlock,” someone’s going to receive a strongly worded letter if I can’t figure out how this email machine works.

One half of the NFC South has advanced to the NFL’s final eight, much to the delight of those who court TV ratings and to the despair of Falcons fans. For them, having Brady and Brees together on one stage is the sum of all loathing. It’s surf and turf to a vegan. Limbaugh and Hannity to a lib.

Let’s see. Brady has 28-3 inscribed on one of his Super Bowl rings as a co-author of the Falcons’ most crushing moment, and, further, is 7-0 lifetime against them. Brees wears the fleur-de-lis on his helmet, which automatically marks him as antithetical to all for which Atlanta stands. He has only a .655 winning percentage (19-10) against the Falcons. Would have been better had he not missed one meeting this season with a broken thorax.

When Tampa Bay signed Brady before this season, it not only sentenced New England to a year of Cam Newton, but also immediately catapulted the Bucs into playoff favoritism after 12 years of missing the postseason. And, son-of-a-gun, here they are with Tommy Dimples at the helm. See, you can buy happiness, or at least lease it short term.

This was a playoff meeting destined to happen, if only both teams could stock sufficient supplies of Ensure in their respective quarterback meeting rooms to last four months.

“When Tom Brady signed with the Bucs, and I knew that he was coming to our division, I envisioned this game,” Brees told the media this week. “I envisioned this game happening because I knew our aspirations as a team, to be in the playoffs and beyond, and I certainly knew what he was bringing to the Bucs and that talented roster. I think this is probably where we all envisioned being at this point in the season.”

Brady and Brees winning was as close as 2020 came to any semblance of normalcy.

Here in the senior division of the playoffs, Brees’ team actually enjoys favored status over the one led by the six-time Super Bowl winner. The Saints won both meetings this season, by a combined score of 72-26. They’ve won five consecutive against Tampa Bay. Head to head, Brees is 5-2 vs. Brady.

But if nothing else was discovered this season, it was that Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians has roughly the natural-gas reserves of Texas.

His latest emanation, regarding a third meeting with New Orleans and his players’ attitude: “I think they are really, really looking forward to it. Our guys are ready to play anybody, anywhere, that’s for sure.”

Both teams are top eight in both points scored and fewest points allowed, but why get bogged down in a lot of detail when it’s the old guys who will be hogging all the attention?

Here are two quarterbacks who make Matt Ryan look like a minor. They are his best argument for the possibilities after 35.

Here are the NFL’s two all-time leaders in passing touchdowns and passing yards playing on the same field in a game of some heft, like Canton busts come to life.

Here are the two shining exceptions to the trend in the NFL of the slick run-pass option quarterback. The QBs in Sunday’s first game – Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield – hadn’t learned any of the alphabet, and certainly not their X’s and O’s, by the time Brady was drafted in 2000. As someone who creaks and groans just getting up to yell at the neighbor kids in my front yard, I’ve come to appreciate such rebellions against youth, rare as they are.

Brady vs. Brees is a game for the aged, one for which postseasons were invented. Sorry, Falcons people, it’s also one that just had to happen.

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