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Eli Manning vs. Peyton Manning: A Legitimate Discussion?

  • Santos


If you saw the above title about two years ago, you would have surely laughed in my face. Hell, I would have laughed in my face. At that time, any Giant fan would concede this point: we had to rELI on the inferior Manning. However, given recent events, it seems like it may be time to sit down and give that aforementioned conceded point a second glance.

There is a variety of factors that go into analyzing the quarterback position. Stats play a crucial role, but so does leadership and the ability to perform under pressure. Honestly, as I am writing this intro, I haven’t made a decision yet, so let’s jump into the numbers and intangibles and see which of these statements is correct:

Is Eli still just Peyton’s younger brother? OR Is Peyton now just Eli’s older brother?

The Names

 Peyton Williams Manning vs. Elisha Nelson Manning

Note to self: Never consult Archie Manning when naming my children.

Advantage: None.

Okay, okay. Let’s do this.

Career Numbers

Peyton: 208 Games Started, 64.9 Comp %, 54,828 Yds, 399 TDs/198 INTs

Eli: 119 Games Started, 58.4 Comp %, 27,579 Yds, 185 TDs/129 INTs

I don’t think there is any question here.

Peyton’s numbers are overwhelming. A virtual 2-1 TD-INT ratio, going on 55,000 yards and of course his well-documented (prior to this season) durability. His 64.9 Comp % ranks 5th all-time, and he is 3rd all-time in both yards and touchdown passes. Keep in mind, he (probably) has at least two Peyton-caliber seasons left in him.

Related Side Note: It has really been starting to irritate me how much flak Peyton is catching lately. As sport fans, we are so blinded by the moment that we completely forget greatness, as I wrote about Brady and Rodgers.

Let us be clear about something; Peyton Manning is a first ballot hall-of-famer, and is twice the quarterback that Andrew Luck is right now. I am baffled by this whole “Trade Peyton” movement. If he is healthy, he is still one of the top five quarterbacks in this league. Granted, I am not as high on Luck as most (I’d rather have RGIII. Vick 2.0, but he’s bigger and will be more durable), but even those that are huge on Luck can’t possibly think he is a more viable option than Peyton. Well, I guess they can, because they do. *jumps off soap box*

It is very poetic that Eli’s career numbers… sum up his career. Eli’s numbers, like Eli himself, are incredibly inconsistent. I think I speak for every Giant fan when I say you legitimately have no idea which Eli (and which Giant team) will show up on any given week. *cut to all Giants fans nodding in agreement* One week, he will be throwing beautiful back-shoulder passes to Nicks, and the next on his back foot throwing a floater right into the defense’s hands. I would venture to say roughly 118% of bad Eli throws come when he is on his back foot.

Advantage: Peyton


Clutch Gene

This is the part where all Peyton supporters go “uh-oh”, but you would be surprised how well he translates in this category.

Peyton has 35 fourth-quarter comebacks, and 46 game-winning drives, which actually ranks him 3rd all-time behind Marino and Elway in both categories. That’s…pretty good company. For all the criticism he receives, the stats certainly seem to indicate that Peyton Manning is indeed a clutch quarterback.

Eli, in half the time, has 19 4th quarter comebacks, and  23 game-winning drives. If you extrapolate that out to match Peyton’s games started, which is foreseeable since Eli has also never missed a game, he is right on pace to match Peyton in each category. It is interesting to note that six of those game-winning drives came in Eli’s Super Bowl run, including one in the Super Bowl itself, and six have come this season. For the record, yes. Yes I did just watch that entire YouTube clip and relive my greatest moments as a sports fan.

Advantage: Tie.

It seems like the numbers indicate that both quarterbacks are indeed clutch, except…

Playoffs *insert beaten to a horse Jim Mora “Playoffs?!” joke*

Peyton has had his historical struggle in the playoffs, with a career 9-10 record, and one of the strangest things I have ever come across. His worst post-season stretch was the same stretch that rewarded him with his only Super Bowl ring.

Peyton’s Super Bowl run did not include any game in which he had more touchdowns than interceptions, and primarily won that title because of his defense, and because he played Rex Grossman in the Super Bowl.

Eli, on the other hand, has shined in the postseason. He hosts a a 7-3 career playoff record, and is seven of his last eight overall. He has thrown multiple touchdowns in seven of those contests and has only thrown multiple interceptions in two, one of those being in his 1st career postseason contest. He has won five career road playoff games, most in the history of the league. Granted, that is a somewhat skewed stat. Yeah, it looks good and certainly is impressive, but the only reason you even HAVE to play on the road is because you underperformed throughout the season. That being said, Eli’s playoff numbers are almost as impressive as Peyton’s career numbers.

It should also be noted that Eli has arguably yet to reach his prime, and Peyton is presumably in it or even past it.

Advantage: Eli.

The Verdict

This is a lot tougher than I anticipated it being. My initial thought was that I was jumping the gun by thinking that Eli could possibly be better than Peyton. I thought I was being a biased Giant fan, and one of those people I have grown to hate; those who are blinded by the present and forget the past. I thought “he is still Peyton Manning, I’m crazy.” Well, now that I have looked at the numbers, I no longer think I am crazy (I mean I still think I am crazy, just not in the context of this discussion).

Eli really does have that “it” factor. A great quarterback has the same mentality that a great shooter has in basketball. It does not matter how many interceptions or bad passes they have thrown, or how many shots they have missed throughout the game, they want the ball. They know they are going to make that perfect throw, and that they are going to make that last shot. The past doesn’t matter; they have the confidence in their abilities to know that they will always have the capability to make the play.

That is the biggest difference between Peyton and Eli.

It seems like Peyton remembers too much, and that might be what also makes him so great. I am of the belief that your greatest flaws are also your greatest strengths. For example, in the right situation a stubborn person can also just be seen as persistent, depending on the outcome of the situation. Peyton’s inability to forget his previous bad passes is the same thing that gives him the ability to memorize his playbook and know defensive tendencies better than any quarterback we can remember. He is a genius, and that is probably his biggest strength, and his biggest flaw.

Eli, on the other hand, throws a bad pass, and just makes that dumb look that all of Giant fans cringe when we see because it always seemed like he just didn’t know what was going on. The more that we see that look in this successful season, we now rationalize it as his “getting the play off of his mind” look, because we are fans, and that’s what we do. In our defense, the numbers seem to back up our rationalizations. Eli just seems to have the ability that his brother does not, to focus on the present and leave the past plays where they belong, out of sight and out of mind. Maybe that’s what I need to do right now, and just go with what the numbers inexplicably indicate.

Peyton Williams Manning is now just Elisha Nelson Manning’s big brother.


By: Frank Santos– Lead Columnist

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9 Responses to Eli Manning vs. Peyton Manning: A Legitimate Discussion?

  • As a football fan with no personal bias towards either Manning, this article was interesting and funny, and I loved the use of somewhat atypical stats to make the case. As a woman, my choice was much simpler, who’s cuter? (Answer: overwhelmingly Eli. I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for that adorable dope face!). As Frank’s girlfriend, I know how much willpower and strength of character it took to even consider pitting anyone against his beloved Giants, especially after last night’s epic win over the 49er’s. I also want to make it clear that I have never heard him get so… let’s call it passionate about anything, ever. I’m not going to say he’s annoying… but some of us had class at 8am. Anyways…. well written and compelling.

  • I am a Colts fan and have to admit I was pleased with how the Colts did this year. They proved that Peyton is the best QB in the NFL. Brady goes down and they go 11-5 Peyton goes down 2 – 14. Peyton is 1 man ( although after this year you might argue he is 3 or 4 men). Peyton cannot control what happens with the D.We have had the comparison with Brady for years. Peyton never had the team around him as has Brady. Peyton never had the coaches around him Brady has had. I will argue that Dungy was a great regular season coach, but he was no Belicheck come playoff time. Now the new arguement is whether eli is better than Peyton and the same things apply. One thing just for example, the Giants got the ball with 5:39 to go in regulation. In that time they had the ball 3 times SF had the ball 3 times. If Peyton was in a tie game in the playoffs or regular season he would have never had 3 chances to score, but had he the Colts would have scored. He never had a D like that. Peyton is the best and I kind of hope he gets a chance to go to a team with a D and get a chance to win another super bowl because it isnt going to happen in Indy and it upsets me to say it but it is true.

    • That is a great point. My conclusion was more a complement to Eli than hating on Peyton. Unfortunately, I agree with you. I don’t think he can win again in Indy. If they were to trade him, to say, the Jets, the league better look out. I know two people that don’t want that to happen… Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

  • Although Peyton wins in my mind as well, I do have to commend the article for pointing out intangible things that people take for granted when discussing an elite quarterback. This is Eli’s second Super Bowl appearance, he put a 7-7 team on his back to get into the playoffs, and has been a 4th quarter assassin all post-season long. Where’s big bad Rodgers and his 45 touchdowns? Oh yeah that’s right he’s at home eating popcorn because Eli beat him head to head and we don’t know if Rodgers has the 4th quarter clutch gene because he played a soft ass schedule and they throw the ball from the 4 yard line (padded stats). I’d take leadership, toughness (Eli took 20 hits against SF), and clutch gene over someone who throws a ton of touchdowns because their offensive system is built for that. Did we already forget Matt Flynn…MATT FLYNN…threw six touchdowns running Green Bay’s offense? Definitely intangibles should go into the convo when discussing an elite QB, and they should play a big role. Sadly they don’t because people are blinded by stats, but Rodgers and Brees aren’t in the Super Bowl. Eli Manning is.

  • I like Eli.. Tough kid, great QB. I’m just not ready to hand him the crown. He did, however, show me something last night, as he stood up with dirt in his mouth and shoulder pad hanging out 10 different times. He shows heart. Loads of heart.

    • I thought the same thing, but the playoffs numbers were really overwhelming. I guess my question would be: what else would Eli have to do to change your mind?

  • Peyton will never surpass Eli because Peyton is a top 3 QB all time. Just my opinion.

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