What to Watch For: Drew Brees vs. Philip Rivers

Kent Nishimura - Getty Images

These two elite QBs are going to be under the spotlight on Sunday night for their throws, but it might be their decision-making that ends up determining the winner.

Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Philip Rivers has thrown 37 interceptions in 36 regular-season games. Over that same span, Drew Brees has thrown 41 interceptions in 36 regular-season games. I suppose the biggest difference is that Brees has 11 fumbles in that span while Rivers has 19. Still, any complaint about Rivers turning the ball over a lot can be said for Drew Brees as well.

The funniest thing about these two turnover machines might be that their respective teams are built around them because they're so talented when they're not giving the opposing team the ball. This means that, much of the time, the fate of the team is directly tied to, on a week-to-week basis, whether or not the QB can keep from making stupid passes. Oh, and also whether or not the defense can get the opposing QB to throw stupid passes.

In the 3 victories this season, Rivers has turned the ball over only twice. In the 1 loss, he turned it over twice. This seems like pretty basic arithmetic. If El Capitan turns the ball over once or less, the Chargers should win. This is not an eternal rule but, in 2012, it seems like a good rule because the defense has forced at least 1 turnover in all 4 games.

The problem is that Drew Brees is getting better about not throwing stupid passes. He threw 4 picks (and 4 TDs) in the Saints for 2 games, but has thrown just 1 interception (and 6 TDs) in the last 2 weeks. In addition, the Saints defense has started forcing turnovers of their own. They forced just 1 turnover in the first 2 games, but have forced 5 in the last 2 games (including 2 from the Packers).


So there you have it. Will this be a matchup of two very talented QBs? Yes, but this matchup will be determined more by which one of them can avoid making dumb throws than which one makes great ones.

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