If you are one such believer -- and last week, it was all the rage -- maybe you feel like it'd be shortsighted to change your mind back to Peyton after this one particular weekend of football.
Peyton had 3 touchdowns and a 134.7 passer rating against the best passing defense in football, and Eli had 3 interceptions and a 57.1 passer rating against the Cleveland Browns. But so what, it's just one game, right?
Okay. So let's forget about that one game. And yes, I realize that it's easy to write a rebuttal to that counterpoint after this weekend's events, but if it makes you feel any better, I'll be happy to ignore this week when making my case.
If it's shortsighted to draw or change an opinion after this one week, I'd counter that it was way more shortsighted to ignore the last 10 years of Peyton Manning's career in favor of Eli Manning's last, what, 10 games or so? Peyton's quarterback rating has been below 84.1 for an entire season exactly once in his career: when he had a 71.2 rating as a rookie.
Meanwhile, Eli's quarterback year-long rating has never climbed out of the 70s. It likely will this year, but even last year, when he won the Super Bowl, it was a meager 73.9. Peyton didn't win any hardware last year, but he did manage to post a 98.0 rating.
True, through six weeks of the 2008 campaign, the numbers are a bit different. Eli, after last night's regression, is carrying a 91.4 rating to Peyton's 87.8, an advantage I'd describe as extremely slight. But an advantage nonetheless, I suppose.
But let's not confuse the Giants' success with Eli's proficiency, and let's not confuse the Colts weak start with any declining skills in Peyton Manning. Let's not ignore circumstance here.
Statistically, Eli has the NFL's best running to lean on and to open up the passing game. Peyton's running game? Dead last. There's also the issue of the Colts injuries along the offensive line, and let's not forget that Peyton had a scalpel bouncing around in his knee twice this offseason. I think he can be excused if it takes him a few games to find his mojo.
But really, none of that matters, either. Here's the only relevant question: If you had to win a game tomorrow, and you had to pick one quarterback to do it, are you taking Peyton or Eli?
Do you really believe Eli is as good at Peyton at doing all the crafty veteran things that a quarterback's expected to do? Pre-snap reads, setting up a corner, recognizing coverages, immediately recognizing the open guy ... is Eli on Peyton's level there?
I say no, and I say it so emphatically that even Jerramy Stevens would understand. No. No! No! NO! Maybe Eli's got some youthful advantages in quickness and footspeed, and maybe even arm strength. But Peyton's still got a cannon, and he's still damn hard to sack. And I'll be surprised if Peyton isn't statistically the best quarterback at the end of the season.
- Peyton Manning