Is Eli Manning an elite quarterback?

Eli Manning

When Eli Manning made one innocuous statement back in August that he was as “elite” as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, it was looked upon as football blasphemy.

But since the start of the season, not many quarterbacks have had as much statistical success as Manning. Manning’s numbers (2,127 yards, 64.7 completion percentage, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions) are comparable to Brady (2,361 yards, 67.6 completion percentage, 18 TDs and 8 INTs), who is also leading a 5-2 squad.

Manning is on his way to the best statistical season of his eight-year career.

“I don’t particularly care about what others say,” head coach Tom Coughlin said when addressing a poll on ESPN that didn’t have Manning in the top 10 current quarterbacks. “He has put together a very, very nice string … He is playing very well and we expect that to remain that way.”

For his part, the always reserved Manning didn’t want to rehash his statement — nor did he want the focus to be on Manning versus Brady. He said while he respects Brady as a “future Hall of Famer down the road” his task is to dissect the Patriots defense, not match Brady in a shootout.   

“I think you just know that their offense is high-powered [and] has the ability to score a lot of points. So, we have to go into the game thinking we have to be smart, take care of the ball and not give [Brady] a short field, give him more opportunities,” Manning said. “You have to try to keep the ball in our hands as long as possible. When we get opportunities to score, when we get into the red zone, we have to get touchdowns.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick also had kind words for Manning.

“I thought he was a good quarterback coming in [from college] and he’s still a good quarterback I think … I don’t rank them. He makes good decisions, he’s accurate and a good leader.”

Welker the fan

It’s not a surprise that the media-savvy Patriots would praise Manning, but wideout Wes Welker was especially effusive in his compliments.
   
“I’m definitely a little biased working with Tom,” the Pats’ slot receiver said. “But I think Eli has done it this year and he’s played really well. He’s backing it up from what I can tell.”

WR Nicks still not practicing

The Giants know the Patriots are terrible in pass defense — last in the NFL by over 30 yards per game to be exact.

But whether they will have their top receiver available to exploit that is very much in question. Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) didn’t practice again yesterday.

“Well you have to make adjustments,” Coughlin said. “But you’re still expecting, like under any circumstance, we ask the guys that are coming along to step up.”


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