Super Bowl 2012: 4 Signs Eli Manning Is Ready to Take the NFL by Storm

James ReaganCorrespondent IIFebruary 6, 2012

Super Bowl 2012: 4 Signs Eli Manning Is Ready to Take the NFL by Storm

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    Super Bowl XLVI is history now, and surprisingly, it's result was nearly identical to Super Bowl XLII.

    For the second time in five seasons, the New York Giants have upset the New England Patriots with a last-second touchdown in the Super Bowl. And just like last time, Eli Manning is the MVP.

    For all the criticism Manning has received in his career, he now has two Super Bowl rings. And this is after only eight years in the league. At only 31 years old, he could still have several good years ahead of him as a quarterback in the NFL.

    His first seven years in the league were good, although slightly unspectacular. That changed this season where he truly belonged as one of the league's elite quarterbacks. His second Super Bowl ring puts him in rare company for quarterbacks, and with the way he's playing now, future Super Bowl appearances and a trip to Canton are not out of the question.

    In this slideshow, I will present four reasons why this season is just the beginning and why Manning could be poised to take the NFL by storm for the next couple seasons.  

Eli Manning Is the Most Clutch Quarterback in the NFL

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    His numbers from the 2011 NFL season now back up the fact that Eli Manning is the most-clutch quarterback in the NFL.

    His 15 fourth-quarter passes this season set an NFL record. He also set a franchise record for most game-winning drives in the fourth quarter with six of them during the regular season. 

    You can add two more of those in the postseason. First, there was two weeks ago against the San Francisco 49ers where Manning drove his team into field goal range at the end. Then there was last night's game-winning drive highlighted by Mario Manningham's spectacular 38-yard catch along the sideline. 

    In both of his Super Bowl wins, Manning has led the Giants to game-winning touchdowns in the final minute of the game. That's an amazing stat considering only two other Super Bowls have ended with game-winning touchdowns.

    Granted both seasons Manning had his receivers make great catches, but it's now a convincing argument that he's the most-clutch quarterback in Super Bowl history. 

His Core Offensive Players Are All Young

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    Super Bowl victories are always won by a whole team so Eli Manning's fellow offensive players deserve credit as well. And the best part is that they're all mostly younger players who could have some great years left in their NFL careers.

    Victor Cruz was discovered this season and after setting the franchise record for receiving yards in a season, Cruz is likely going to be a Giant for awhile. The other starting receiver Hakeem Nicks was crucial in the victory with 10 catches for 109 yards. Cruz is only 25, and Nicks is 24 years old.

    The future is a little murkier for the hero of the game Mario Manningham, who absolutely benefitted from the Patriots strategy of covering Cruz the entire night. Manningham will be a free agent next month, and after his Super Bowl performance, any team with wide receiver questions has to consider him an option. He could be back with the Giants although in all likelihood, he's going to demand a lot of money.

    One of the tragedies of the game was injuries at the tight end position which saw two of the Giants three tight ends go down with serious injuries.

    This leaves them with 25-year-old Bear Pascoe possibly as their leading tight end and also 24-year-old Jake Ballard who should be healthy by the time next season starts. And finally at running back, the Giants could be set for years with their starting rusher Ahmad Bradshaw only 25 years old.

The Giants Are Ridiculously Good Under Pressure

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    In both the 2007 championship season and this season, the Giants overcame long odds to get to the Super Bowl. They were by no means considered favorites in either season. And in both Super Bowls, the Giants were rightfully underdogs to a Patriots team that had a way better record. 

    What's amazing though is what happened between the Super Bowl seasons. For three consecutive seasons, the Giants suffered excruciating late-season collapses with one playoff appearance in those three years. They promptly lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round and then finished 8-8 and 10-6 with no playoff appearances the next two seasons. 

    What people forget is that there was serious talk of firing Tom Coughlin before the season began. It's worth noting that same conversation was happening in 2007 when the Giants struggled coming out of the gate. Both years, Coughlin worked his magic and got the Giants to somehow play in the Super Bowl. 

    In their Super Bowl seasons, Manning has won five road playoff games, setting an NFL record. Amazingly, he has only won one home playoff game as the Giants under Coughlin thrive at being road warriors.

    It's not surprising for a team that's at its best with its back against the wall.

Eli Manning Is No Longer Simply Peyton's Little Brother

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    It's one of those comparisons that Eli Manning will just have to live with for the rest of his career.

    Since his older brother Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, Manning will always seem sort of in his shadow. It's unfortunate, considering both Mannings are both great quarterbacks.

    But for those keeping score, right now, it's Eli: two and Peyton: one.

    It seems absurd to consider that Eli has more rings, but that's exactly what has happened. Although Peyton is likely thrilled for his brother, this has to fuel his comeback attempt next season since he's a fierce competitor, and he doesn't want to have less rings than his little brother.

    Eli, meanwhile, may even have the Hall of Fame in his future now.

    Only 11 quarterbacks have won multiple Super Bowls, and most of them are already in the Hall. If Manning has a few more elite statistical seasons and possibly gets back to the Super Bowl, there's no reason to think he can't join them.