On Sunday night, the brothers Manning will go at it under the lights in Indianapolis in the second installment of the Brother Bowl series.
In Week One of the 2006 season, older brother Peyton's Colts walked away with 26—21 win over the Giants in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate.
The Colts never trailed in 2006, yet the Giants offensively outplayed them in the contest. The younger Eli threw for 247 yards and two TDs, while Peyton had 276 yards and only one TD.
Both QBs had one interception in the contest, but Eli did have the game's only fumble.
The Giants outgained the Colts in rushing yards 186-55. That gave the Giants the edge in yardage by 103 yards, but the Colts matched them in rushing TDs as each team ran for one during the matchup.
The time of possession was split between the teams almost exactly down the middle. The Giants had a red zone efficiency rating of 100 percent to the Colts' 40 percent.
So you may be wondering, "how did the Colts win this game, and how can they do it again?"
Field position and third down conversions led to the Colts' victory in the first matchup. The Colts converted 11-of-16 third downs, something that Peyton Manning has turned into something of an art form.
The Colts also started seven of their nine drives across their own 30-yard line, and they scored on all four Giants' turnovers (on downs, missed field goal, fumble, interception).
The Colts are going to need to do much of the same in this week's game. Many of the names have changed on these teams over the years, but the Manning's remain. As does the game plan to victory.
Eli's No. 1 WR in 2006 was Plaxico Burress. Now, it's Steve Smith out of USC. Apart from Plax being gone, Eli has a much more athletic group of receivers this time around.
In place of Amani Toomer is Hakeem Nicks. Nicks is a tall and speedy receiver out of North Carolina who has great leaping ability. Their third WR option, Mario Manningham, is interchangeable with the first two WRs.
The Colts' secondary has to play disciplined football and hope that their front seven can handle the run so that they can focus on coverage. Missing Bob Sanders is a non-factor, as he has only played in half of his games as a Colt. The team is used to him not being there.
Melvin Bullitt will need to have a big game. Hakeem Nicks caught all three of Eli's TD passes in Week One, so the Colts defense will need to find a way to bottle him up on Sunday night.
All of the N.Y. receivers run good routes, but they had trouble holding on to the ball in Week One. Eli had 263 yards, three picks, and three TDs in week one, but every one of his three picks was off of a dropped pass.
The receivers actually kept the game closer than it was. If Colts' DE Dwight Freeney can get pressure on Eli, he'll make some mistakes and probably turn the ball over a few times. This is when the Colts are at their best.
The running game is always a factor when you play the Giants. RBs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for 120 yards and a score. They have mirroring running styles, and you never know which one will get the majority of the carries.
The Colts should just be ready to clog up the middle if they plan on stopping the running game of the Giants.
Gary Brackett will need to have a big game and have double-digit tackles. The Colts cannot afford to let the Giants RBs do what Texans RB Arian Foster did to them in Week One, or they will lose this game.
The Giants' defense looked pretty good against the Panthers last week, but it was only the Panthers. New York had the luxury of stacking the box and focus on the run, since the Panthers have no passing threat to speak of.
The Colts made it all the way to the Super Bowl last season ranked dead last in rushing yards, so all they have to do on the ground is run the ball effectively enough to keep the Giants' defense honest.
Peyton Manning should be able to pick the Giants' shaky secondary apart in typical Peyton Manning fashion.
The Colts will need to take advantage of turnovers, of which there should be no shortage in this game. The Colts' speed matches up well against this Giants team.
The Giants are a little bit bigger, but if the Colts keep them running, they won't be able to keep up. This will fall into the Colts' favor in the second half.
Of course, Peyton will have to be Peyton, but being the competitor that he is, I see him having 300-plus passing yards and three TD passes in the contest. If RB Joseph Addai can get between 85 and 105 yards on the ground, it will be enough to complement Peyton's passing and ensure a Colts' win on Sunday night. But there are two more things that the Colts have going for them in this contest.
TE Dallas Clark needs to be effective across the middle. This will open up the edge for a streaking WR Reggie Wayne to grab a couple of deep balls in the contest.
Also, Pierre Garcon will be free to run the deep middle route that Marvin Harrison used to kill teams on week in and week out. When the Colts' passing game is working all three of these areas, they are unstoppable.
However, history might be the most important factor on the Colts' side. Since Peyton Manning's rookie season, the Colts have never gone 0-2. 1998 was the last season that the Colts didn't win at least one of their first two games of the year.
They have only missed the playoffs once in that span, and teams that go 0-2 only make the playoff 13 percent of the time, so the numbers are in the Colts' favor.
The last factor in this matchup is even more intangible than the history aspect, but I feel it is just as important: the little brother factor.
While both QBs in this matchup have led their team to a Super Bowl win and are outstanding professionals in their field, they are brothers first.
There is almost always an intimidation factor involved when a younger sibling has to go up against their older counterpart. The Manning's are probably no exception.
If Peyton calmly goes about his touchdown-scoring business, Eli may start pressing and fall apart for a series or two, and against the Colts that's all it takes for a game to get away from their opponent.
If the Colts stick to this blueprint, they should be able to win this game in the same fashion as they won their last meeting: never trailing.
Peyton will have to yet again defeat his brother if he looks to make a run at the Super Bowl this season. If the Colts can make it through this game with a win, they'll be one step closer to doing just that.
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