One of the great football debates of the past few years has been comparing Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. With Peyton out for the season with a neck injury, Eli Manning has taken center stage in the family.
Seeing those two quarterbacks standing side by side brings you back to the 2007-2008 Super Bowl—the undefeated Patriots taking on the New York Giants for their chance to go down as possibly the greatest football team to ever step on the field.
We all know how that ended.
Flash forward to today. Both the Patriots and Giants are sitting comfortably with 5-2 records. Both quarterbacks have certainly had their ups and downs this year.
However, which quarterback is currently in better form?
Here is a case for both.
Eli Manning has always had pressure on him.
The pressure of being a professional athlete in New York is stress enough, never mind being the quarterback of the Giants. The memory of him weaseling his way out of San Diego on draft day brings up some bitter memories for some. Of course, living in the shadow of big brother is never easy.
Yet, Eli Manning has still been a solid NFL quarterback.
Currently he has thrown for 13 touchdowns and five interceptions, along with 2,127 passing yards. His completion percentage is sitting at a solid 64.7 percent, and he has a quarterback rating of 102.1
The Giants are in first place in the tough NFC East, and Eli has appeared to bounce back from his tough performance in a Week 5 loss to Seattle.
Manning has always taken criticism for being the "lesser Manning." He doesn't have the same field general skills as his brother or the same arm.
However, he has made it work for him.
Manning's statistics make him a top 10 quarterback this year and on one of the better teams in football. He hasn't thrown an interception in two weeks. With only five on the season, he is on pace for one of his lower totals in the past few years.
Manning and the Giants have plenty of tough tests ahead of them. He will have plenty of chances to step up in to the spotlight and earn some credit for his performance so far this year.
If this Eli Manning is here to stay, then Giants fans should be optimistic. This Eli Manning could easily lead them to the NFC East crown and make a run in the playoffs.
If last year's Eli Manning makes an appearance, all bets are off.
The defending MVP of the league has seen his fair share of ups and downs this season.
Tom Brady came in to the year with a few new weapons on offense, including former Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Many thought that these additions would bring back some of the highlight reel performances that Brady and the Patriots put together in 2007.
So far, that hasn't been the case.
Brady has still put up fantastic numbers. We all remember Brady ripping the Dolphins to shreds Week 1 on Monday Night Football. After the first four weeks of the season, the media wasn't asking if Tom Brady was going to break Dan Marino's passing yards record—the question was by how much.
He did suffer a tough setback Week 3 against Buffalo. It is a strange sight to see Brady throw one interception, let alone four. Even though he still put up huge numbers, those turnovers stick with you.
The Patriots went on to pick up three consecutive wins, including a big win over their division rival New York Jets. Brady's play was strong, but not quite at the level he played last year.
Then came last Sunday's game against the Steelers, where Brady was held under 200 yards for the first time this season.
His numbers are still strong, with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions for 2,361 yards. He has a 67.7 percent completion percentage and a quarterback rating of 104.4.
The stats are there for Brady as always.
What has hurt Brady's performances the past few weeks has been the lack of possessions. The Patriots defense is one of the worst in the league. New England currently has the fourth-worst time of possession in the league.
Only teams like the Colts and Seahawks are beating them out in that category.
It is clear that Brady hasn't been as sharp as he usually is, but how much of that is due to the fact he has to make the most out of every possession? It must be difficult game planning on offense when you know that it is likely the opposing offense will have the ball twice as much.
Imagine Brady's statistics if the Patriots' time of possession was the best in the league or even just middle of the road.
There is no doubt that Tom Terrific's performance needs to improve, but the blame for lack of production can't fall solely on his shoulders.
Interceptions or not, Tom Brady takes this one.
At this point in their careers, Brady is still superior to Eli Manning. We know that Brady is capable of putting together performances that only a few other quarterbacks in the NFL right now could come close to.
Eli Manning is not one of those quarterbacks.
Don't get me wrong, Manning is a solid quarterback. He does what the Giants need him to do and puts them in a position to win games. However, I don't look at him as the kind of quarterback that can take over a game week in and week out.
If Brady had less interceptions on his stat sheet, I don't think this would even be a discussion. All of his statistics are better than Manning's besides the turnovers.
Looking at Brady's interceptions, you can see that many of them, actually the vast majority of them, were the result of tipped balls either by the defensive line or Patriots receivers. While I understand that Brady could be criticized for not getting the ball over the defensive linemen's hands, what happens after that ball is tipped is really out of anyone's hands.
Brady is still one of the top quarterbacks in the league and is in the running for his second consecutive MVP award.
We'll get to see these two go head to head on Sunday, which will tell us much more about where they are both at.
Yet, at this point in time, I don't think there is any question that Tom Brady is in better form.