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Story highlights

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will face each other for the 17th time

Brady leads the series 11-5, but they're 2-2 in playoff games

Manning has won his last two playoff games against Brady

(CNN) —  

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will soon square off for the 17th time in their storied careers. Once again, the stakes are high: The winner of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Denver between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos advances to Super Bowl 50.

It’s yet another installment of an epic quarterback rivalry that’s enthralled NFL fans since 2000. Brady leads the series 11-5, but they’re 2-2 against each other in the playoffs. Most recently, Manning has had the upper hand; the last two times he faced New England in the playoffs, Manning emerged victorious.

Brady and Manning are surefire locks for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One or the other has represented the AFC in nine of the past 14 Super Bowls, earning Super Bowl MVP honors in four of those contests.

“I think playing someone 17 times is pretty cool, especially someone as great as him,” Brady said Wednesday. “To play against those Peyton Manning-led teams, you know you’ve got to play 60 minutes, and you’re going to be in for a tough game, and they’re going to take advantage of opportunities that they get.”

It’s a thrill for the players and coaches around them, too.

“You have two great quarterbacks that are at the pinnacle parts of their careers, and they’ve been so consistent from the adversity that they’ve been through, throughout their whole career,” Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said Wednesday. “Now, the clash of the titans is here again. You have an opportunity – when you’re a young kid, you watch those games or you play them on the video games, but now you’re on the field with those guys. You’re getting that roar from the crowd or you’re getting that feeling from the next teammate beside you. That next teammate, for me, is Peyton. I think that’s a big, monumental thing for me. I’m really excited to be playing this week and be part of this experience.”

But is Brady vs. Manning XVII the last time fans – and their teammates – will get to see this legendary rivalry?

This year just feels a little different. Manning turns 40 in March. Brady is 38. And while Brady’s numbers are as good as they’ve ever been, the future looks uncertain for Manning. Manning hasn’t revealed his future plans, but there has been wide speculation that this season could be his last.

“I have felt very fortunate to play 18 years like I have, and I know how hard I’ve worked to play this long,” Manning said Wednesday. “When I look across at the New England Patriots and see Tom Brady is their quarterback, I just know how hard he’s worked, as well. To play as well as he has over the course of his career, with the success that he has had and the team’s success, I have a lot of respect for him. He’s earned that respect. He and (Patriots head coach) Bill Belichick have earned all the respect and all of the accolades that they get.”

Ranging from respect to drama, here’s a snapshot on what this Brady-Manning rivalry includes.

Mutual respect

There’s a word that keeps coming up in all of this: Respect.

Neither player likes talking about the other, often insisting that it’s about the teams and not the two quarterbacks. But that hasn’t stopped the media from asking Brady and Manning to talk about each other countless times over the years. The two are friends and express mutu