The jockeying for the better individual record is in the background, peeking over their shoulders.
The scuffle for the superior team record is the main course for New Orleans' Drew Brees and Tampa Bay's Tom Brady in the nationally televised, Sunday night game between the Saints (5-2) and Buccaneers (6-2).
Brees and Brady lead teams that continue to churn out wins and fight for first place in the NFC South. And that's the prize that will be at stake at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
The Saints are a half-game behind the Bucs, but a victory Sunday night will give New Orleans a season sweep of Tampa Bay – the Saints beat the Bucs 34-23 in the season opener, in New Orleans – and will earn the Saints the tiebreak advantage over the Bucs if they finish with the same record.
For the most part, the teams occupy positions many assumed they would at this point in the season, significantly attributable to the play of Brees (41 years old) and Brady (43), the most veteran of veteran quarterbacks in the NFL.
"I think I would add one qualifier: You're talking about veteran, great quarterbacks," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "They're not playing head to head against each other and yet, they're leading their teams and having success. I'm sure that'll be a big part of the billing for this game."
Definitely, it is, with both players riding heaters coming into the game.
During New Orleans' four-game winning streak – featuring four two-minute offense touchdowns entering halftime – Brees has completed 75 percent of his passes for 1,138 yards and seven touchdowns, with two interceptions, and has added two rushing touchdowns.
In the seven games since Brady was intercepted twice and was sacked three times by the Saints in the opener, he has completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,950 yards and 18 touchdowns, with two interceptions, and he has one rushing score.
"We both play on very good teams for very good organizations, with great coaches and great systems, great players around us," Brees said. "So just grateful for the opportunity to compete, grateful that we're in the situation where we're battling to win the division."
The battle within the battle is this: Statistically, Brees and Brady are the two most accomplished quarterbacks in the NFL, and the record-breaking is ongoing. While Brees currently holds a sizable edge in career passing yards (79,314, tops in NFL history, to Brady's 76,760, which is second), Brady has a one-touchdown lead (561-560) on the all-time list for passing touchdowns.
The leader in that category has changed from game to game, depending on who plays first and who plays second on a given weekend.
"I'd say it's pretty cool," Brees said. "When in history has that ever happened?
"(But), again, I think, I know speaking for myself, I'm just laser focused on the job that is right in front of me and the opportunity that we have this week. Winning the football game is the most important thing, and however we can get that done."