Peyton Manning Versus Eli Manning: A Family Affair This January?

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IAugust 27, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants (L) congratulates his brother quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts on his 26-21 victory on September 10, 2006 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Travis Lindquist/Getty Images)

Every time you think of Eli Manning, automatically his older brother Peyton Manning comes to mind.

But Eli charged out of his brother’s shadow by leading the New York Giants to an improbable Super Bowl title two seasons ago, and he would love to share the spotlight with Peyton this year in a return appearance to Super Sunday.

After battling years of inconsistency and constant comparisons to Peyton, Eli proved his pedigree as an NFL quarterback in the most unlikely of situations: A pressure-filled playoff run that included road wins over the NFC’s top two teams, the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, and a victory over the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

The Giants are once again among the favorites to play in this year’s Super Bowl, and much of their success will depend on the relationship between Eli and his young receivers. All eyes will be watching this season to see if he has gone to the next level as a leader.

The Giants have one of the league’s best rushing attacks that will keep opposing linebackers bottled at the line of scrimmage, and that leaves the middle of the field open for Eli to play catch with his tight end Kevin Boss.

Leadership has been never a weak point of Peyton’s game, as he became the team’s vocal leader soon after getting the starting nod in Indianapolis. Former Colts head coach Tony Dungy honed his talents, and soon Peyton took on a larger role in play-calling responsibilities after mastering the no-huddle offense.

There’s no argument that Peyton is the better quarterback of the Manning brothers and a lock for the Hall of Fame. His career numbers alone speak for themselves, as he passed for 45,628 yards and 333 touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 94.8. There’s also the hardware to go along with his career numbers: Nine Pro Bowls, seven All-Pro selections, three league MVP awards, and a Super Bowl XLI MVP award.

But Peyton's trademark accurate arm and cool demeanor behind center has shown some cracks in the past few seasons. Some NFL scouts feel his passing accuracy has suffered from his two knee surgeries, as Peyton has openly shown his frustration on the field with his teammates and with himself.

The Colts can never be counted out of the Super Bowl hunt as long as Peyton is taking snaps. And we could be witnessing the rise of the next great NFL dynasty in New York, led by his younger brother.

League officials are cautiously optimistic about a Manning versus Manning encounter taking place on the last Sunday of this season.


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