Both joined teams that had made the playoffs the year before, largely because of big defensive performances, and felt as though they were a veteran QB away from serious contention. Both had serious injuries the previous season. Both were Hall of Fame locks who spent the vast majority of their careers as icons with one team.
There were differences, of course: Manning decided on the Broncos early and went through far more offseason reps than did the late-arriving Favre. Conversely, Favre seemed to have a better familiarity with the offense he was running.
Favre, let's remember, had plenty of rust early on. He also thrived in 2009 not so much as a classic "game manager" but when he could pick his spots to take over. A look at the numbers shows that he threw 40-plus passes five times. The Vikings were 2-3 in those games. The other 11 games, he threw 31 or fewer passes. Minnesota was 10-1 in those games.
Denver's biggest mistake will be to put too much of this season on Manning, which it did early last night -- much to the Broncos' detriment. Manning made three terrible throws over the middle for three early interceptions, and those picks dictated the entire game. He ended up throwing 37 passes -- not an absurdly high number, but not ideal.
Willis McGahee ended up with 22 carries for 113 yards and two TDs. He's not of the same caliber of Adrian Peterson, but he does have four 1,000-yard seasons and can be a workhorse. Just as it took Favre time to find his legs and zip, it will take Manning time as well. As tempting as it might be to try to ride Manning's arm, recent history with Favre tells us moderation is the key in these situations.