Could we see Peyton versus Eli in the Super Bowl in four weeks' time?
It is very possible as both the Colts and Giants are top favorites to reach the big game in Tampa. Should we get to this point, both teams will look to become the second "Team of the Decade" along with the New England Patriots.
The Colts feature a high-powered offense, and while it is not quite at the caliber it was earlier in the decade, it is still very potent and guided by the NFL's most cerebral quarterback in Peyton Manning.
The first overall draft pick in 1998 has earned every dollar and has lived up to his much-deserved hype. Branded as the quarterback who could never win the big one, Manning silenced his critics in 2006 by defeating his greatest rival in the New England Patriots to reach Super Bowl XLI, where he was victorious and named most valuable player.
Manning has put together an NFL-record six consecutive 12-win seasons and nine straight 4,000-yard passing seasons. He has also garnered two MVP awards (maybe a third this season), holds the single-season passer rating, and set the previous single season touchdown pass mark at 49. Many believe when he hangs up the cleats, he will be the greatest statistical quarterback to have ever played the game.
Under the pressure of the New York spotlight, Eli Manning was almost destined to fail. Carrying the Manning name, he was forever branded Public Enemy No. 1 in San Diego for turning his back on the Chargers after being drafted first overall in 2004.
Manning made his first career start late into the 2004 season as the Giants finished 6-10.
The Giants made the playoffs in 2005 but were embarrassed at home by the Carolina Panthers. After a tumultuous 2006 season, where they barely made the playoffs, Manning was roasted in the papers and on talk radio even after being given a five-year extension in 2007.
He could not catch a break and was on the verge of being pushed out of town. But a "memorable" loss in the final game of the season awoke something within young Eli and a stunning upset of the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII propelled him to superstar status.
Manning is now at the controls of one of the most balanced teams in the NFL, featuring only the fifth running back duo to go over 1,000 yards in Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward.
The two brothers have squared off before in the 2006 season opener with Peyton besting Eli in Giants Stadium, 26-21. If the two do make it to Tampa on Feb. 1, history will indeed be made.
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