Using QBS Grading to Compare Peyton Manning and Brett Favre's Touchdown Marks

Posted on October 19, 2014 at 2:40 PM

As Peyton Manning approaches Brett Favre's gargantuan mark for most touchdown passes in NFL history (508), there has been a big to-do about the record being broken in a different era. Such criticism is often prefaced with the usual "not to take anything away" bit, which in reality, just translates into "I'm attempting to take something away, even if my critique is deprived of contextual understanding." The QBS system was developed to address nonsense of this sort, by evaluating a quarterback's performance in relation to his contemporaries, on a year-to-year basis, accounting for the ever-fluctuating nature of of the game's rules and penalty enforcement.

This way, Favre's league-leading touchdown pass season in 1995 (38), is valued equally in relation to Manning's league-leading touchdown pass season in 2013 (55).


  • 1st place = 10 points
  • 2nd place = 9 points
  • 3rd place = 8 points
  • 4th place = get the idea


There's no doubt, Favre's 19-year pro career was prolific. But even when taking into account the different eras they played in, Manning's resumé is ages ahead of Favre's. While Favre played six of his 18 starting years (0.33 percent) prior to Manning's arrival in 1998, Nobody, Favre or otherwise, has even dominated the competition the way Manning has. Manning's ranked 1st-2nd in touchdown passes ten times—Favre did eight times. To put the magnitude of that accomplishment into perspective, Tom Brady, one of the greatest to ever play the game, has ranked 1st-2nd in touchdown passes only three times.

Brett Favre Season Rankings (Touchdown Passes)

  • 1995: 1st
  • 1996: 1st
  • 1997: 1st
  • 2003: 1st
  • 1994: 2nd
  • 2001: 2nd
  • 2002: 2nd
  • 2009: 2nd
  • 1998: 3rd
  • 2004: 4th
  • 1993: 5th
  • 2007: 6th
  • 1999: 8th
  • 2008: 9th
  • 2000: 10th
  • 2005: 10th
  • 2006: 13th

  • QBS point total: 109.0

Peyton Manning Season Rankings (Touchdown Passes)

  • 2000: 1st
  • 2004: 1st
  • 2006: 1st
  • 2013: 1st
  • 2014: 1st (Thru Week 7, 1st in touchdown passes per-game)
  • 2002: 2nd
  • 2003: 2nd
  • 2005: 2nd
  • 2009: 2nd
  • 2010: 2nd
  • 1999: 3rd
  • 2012: 3rd
  • 2007: 4th
  • 1998: 5th
  • 2001: 5th
  • 2008: 5th

  • QBS point total: 136.0


When it comes to throwing touchdown passes, Peyton Manning stands peerless in comparison to all other quarterbacks of all other generations.

That "doesn't take away" from Favre's accomplishment. Any quarterback to have ever held the career touchdown pass mark, the NFL's equivalent to MLB's career home run record, is in rarified air. But when Manning claims that spot, it will mean much more than becoming only the eighth player in the past 72 years to hold that distinction, he will be amongst them, the most prolific to have ever done so—even after playing-generation adjustment.

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