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O Brother, Where Art Thou Playoff Successes

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A debate has begun this postseason. Both sides of the debate have good points, and plenty of evidence to support their positions, as well as plenty of support. It could be a discussion for the ages; one that continues on for years, with no clear winner. Lives could be changed forever and families divided. Ok, maybe not that. It's not offense vs defense, or AFC vs NFC, or even Patriots vs Giants. This controversial and colossal clash is...Peyton vs Eli?

Peyton Manning is widely regarded as one of the best quarterbacks to play the game of football in history. He led his team to the playoffs 9 straight seasons up until this year's injury. He won a Super Bowl and made it to another. He is an 11-time Pro-Bowler, a 4-time league MVP, and a sure-fire 1st ballot hall of famer. Yet, there is a large faction who will tell you that Peyton withers in the playoffs, and that his younger brother is the better of the two once the postseason starts.

Eli Manning made the playoffs for the 5th time this season, and is playing in his 2nd Super Bowl. He won his 1st trip. He has a better playoff record, percentage-wise than Peyton, and if the Giants beat the Patriots, he'll have one more ring. So, is Eli better after the regular season ends than the great Peyton Manning? Let's examine.

First, a few numbers to set a baseline: Peyton is 9-10 in the playoffs for his career, with a 63% completion percentage, 29 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions. His career playoff quarterback rating is 88.4. Eli is 7-3, with a 59% completion percentage, 16 TDs and 8 INTs. His passer rating is 87.5. The winning percentage clearly favors the younger brother, but the numbers are fairly even.

One of the arguments against Peyton is that his defense carried him to his Super Bowl, and that he didn't play that well, even then. In that game, Peyton threw for 250 yards, a TD and an INT. They're not off the charts, but they're certainly decent enough. The Colts defense did play pretty well, forcing 5 turnovers, and definitely played a large part in the win. Now, compare that game to Eli's Super Bowl win. Eli completed 56% for 250 yards, 2 TDs and an INT, which is eerily similar to Peyton's. Also, don't forget that Eli doesn't get that ring if David Tyree doesn't make what might be the most amazing catch in Super Bowl history. In addition, the Giants defense held the unbelievably great Patriots offense, which led New England to an undefeated regular season, to just 14 points, so I'd make the claim that the Giants D is as responsible for Eli's ring as the Colts D is for Peyton's, maybe more-so.

Another knock that Peyton gets is that he cost them the game in the Super Bowl against the Saints. He definitely threw a costly INT late in the game, but let's not forget, the Colts were already losing at the time, so there's no guarantee it would have won them the game if he doesn't throw that. The Colts defense didn't play well in the 2nd half of that game, and the special teams let the Saints recover an onsides kick that switched the momentum of the game. The Colts also missed a FG in that game, when they were up 17-16. I would argue that the defense and special teams were more responsible for that loss than Peyton.

The 9-10 playoff record would seem to indicate that the elder Manning has struggled, and to be sure, he has had some bad games, particularly a couple against the Patriots, but he has also had some pretty good games that the team lost anyway. One final comparison with Eli and the Giants: In Peyton's 19 playoff games, his defense has given up an average of 21 points per game. In Eli's 10 appearances, the Giants D has given up just 17 per game. Offensively, Peyton's teams have scored over 22 points per game. Eli's teams have scored under 20 per game.

What does all of this mean? It means that football is a team game, and even the quarterback isn't responsible for every loss or win that his team gets. Eli has had the benefit of a better defense, not to mention one of the most miraculous plays in NFL history, to assist his postseason aura. Peyton has really good numbers in the playoffs, despite his record, and doesn't appear to deserve a lot of the knocks he has gotten. You be the judge, but if I had to win a Super Bowl, and Peyton Manning was my QB, I would be pretty happy.

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Updated 01-25-2012 at 04:27 PM by vancemeek

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  1. Amy's Avatar
    IMO, I'd take Peyton. He's never had a shut down D, Eli has. Except for Edge, he's never had a top notch running game. Eli has. He's never had to win for 4 or 5 weeks in a row to just get into the playoffs. Eli has.

    Peyton elevates everyone around him. He makes all 53 players better, even though it doesn't seem like he should be able to. Eli doesn't. If you handed Peyton - assuming he can still play - to the Browns, or Jags, or Rams, or Vikings, or Seahawks, or Miami, or the Bills, they are a playoff team next year. Can you say that with Eli?

    Eli's a good QB, don't get me wrong. But Peyton is one of the top 10, if not top 5, all time. Personally, I'd put him at 4 (behind, in order: Unitas, Montana, Brady and just ahead of Elway), but others might not agree.
  2. ensvannvebleve's Avatar
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