Fantasy Football News

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Eli Manning Among the Elite Now?

For years Peyton Manning's little brother Eli has been battling doubters and critics alike. Is he an elite quarterback? Can he lead his team to a Super Bowl victory? Does he have the intangibles to consistently put up Peyton-like numbers year-in and year-out?

Those were the questions being asked, even after he won three consecutive road playoff games and upset the undefeated New England Patriots for a Super Bowl title in the 2007-08 season.

Instead of holding him to his own standard, NFL fans, followers and experts have held Eli to his older brother's standards. If he does not throw 4,000 yards, 40 TDs and lead the Giants to a 13-3 regular season we call him a failure and keep him out of the "elite" status.

Before this season started he was asked whether or not he should be seen as among the elite quarterbacks such as his brother, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. He initially declined and said he does not belong on that list.

But he later told ESPN 1050's Michael Kay "..I consider myself in that class and Tom Brady is a great quarterback, he's a great player and what you've seen with him is he's gotten better every year and he started off winning championships and I think he's a better player than what he was, in all honesty, when he was winning those championships.

"It's funny, you say well he won championships, but the team won them. But I think now he's grown up and gotten better every year and that's what I'm trying to do. I kind of hope these next seven years of my quarterback days are my best."

Fast forward to this past weekend I think it's safe to say Eli is well on his way to joining those quarterbacks after de-throning the defending Super Bowl champions, who were 15-1 in the regular season, and doing so on the road at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

This was, of course, not the only time he has sent the Pack home packing in the NFC playoffs at Lambeau. The same event occurred in the 2007 playoffs when he battled below-0 wind chill and knocked off the Brett Favre-led Packers in the NFC Championship game. In the previous matchup Eli got additional help from New York's defense and the right leg of kicker Lawrence Tynes in overtime.
This time around? Eli seemingly put the team on his back and carried the G-Men to a 37-point romp of the MVP favorite Rodgers.

Linebacker Michael Boley and defensive end Osi Umenyiora did provide some insurance with a total of four sacks of Green Bay's Rodgers, but in the end it was Eli who took over the show by out-passing fellow Super Bowl MVP by 66 yards. Manning threw for three touchdowns and sacked just once.

With the run game averaging just 3.5 yards/carry on 27 attempts, Manning was forced to take the game over with his arm and he did not disappoint head coach Tom Coughlin, who is now 10-7 in the postseason as head coach.

Eli put up one of his best regular seasons, in terms of numbers, this past season on his way to his second career Pro Bowl selection. Although he has led the league in interceptions twice in his eight-year career, there's no doubt his play has elevated once he hits the postseason. In fact, he has thrown just eight INTs with 14 TDs in nine career postseason starts, and three of those interceptions came in his playoff debut as a second-year pro in 2004 (NYG lost 23-0 to Carolina).

On the road in the playoffs, Eli has put up a 5-1 record with his lone loss coming against Philadelphia in 2006 with a 23-20 defeat at the hands of Jeff Garcia and Brian Westbrook. This postseason Eli has been near-perfect, throwing for 607 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT (44 for 65) and outscoring opponents 61-22.

Depending on how the rest of this postseason plays out, Eli could further distance himself with the average NFL quarterbacks and elevate into successful playoff quarterback status, and possibly even get himself a second Super Bowl MVP award at the young age of 31.

Photo credit
Manning: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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