What's Eli Manning's Ceiling?

Jon DoveContributor IJanuary 31, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants reacts after he threw a 17-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter to Mario Manningham #82 against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

One of the longest standing debates in sports history is naming the top quarterbacks of all time. Everyone has differing opinions as to who should make the list, and of course there are the typical few who are a given—quarterbacks like Joe Montana, John Elway and Dan Marino. Then there are those who fly under the radar that should be part of the discussion. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is on track to make the list and should be considered in the top 10 by the end of his career.

This debate typically starts with comparing each quarterback's playoff and Super Bowl performances. Manning has an opportunity this Sunday to become one of 11 quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl victories. Accomplishing this feat puts such a quarterback closer to ensuring he makes the list.

Another important stat that impacts this debate is career yardage total. Brett Favre currently holds the record with 71,838 career passing yards. Drew Brees and Tom Brady are the closest active players to that number, but still sit about 30,000 yards away. Eli Manning currently ranks No. 51 with a total of 27,579 yards.

However, at age 30, Manning has a legitimate shot at breaking into the top 10. Over the past seven seasons, he averaged more than 3,700 passing yards per year. Figuring he has at least five more good seasons left, Manning could finish his career with 46, 079 which would put him No. 8 on the current list. Toss Brees and Brady into the mix and Manning could end his career around the No. 10 spot.

The next important factor when evaluating a quarterback's legacy is career win total. Again, Favre leads this category with 186 wins.

To this day, Manning has compiled 69 victories and seems likely to top the 100 win mark. He's averaged nine wins over the last seven seasons, and there is no reason to think that trend will stop. Sticking to the five more seasons thought, that would put him around 114 wins at the end of his career.

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 15:   Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants reacts after defeating the Green Bay Packers to win their NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Image
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Based on the above projections Eli Manning will finish his career with over 46,079 passing yards, 114 victories and possible multiple Super Bowl victories. Using a list complied by Foxsports, I argue that he will finish his career as one of the 10 best quarterbacks of all-time.

This Sunday's outcome will go a long way in determining Manning's legacy, but based on his career path one could argue that this won't be his last Super Bowl appearance. Eli just has a knack for catching fire late in the season and leading his team through the playoffs. It also helps that the New York Giants franchise is committed to winning, Manning will always be surrounded by talented players.

So, Manning has a great opportunity to end his career as one of the best quarterbacks to play the game. At the very least, he appears to be on track to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Possible Foxsport 2020 Top Quarterback of All-Time List

1. John Elway

2. Joe Montana

3. Tom Brady

4. Johnny Unitas

5. Drew Brees

6. Aaron Rodgers

7. Dan Marino

8. Eli Manning

9. Steve Young

10. Brett Favre