Brother versus brother is somewhat rare in the sports world. So when it happens, it always is a big story. Today is another installment of pro football’s biggest brother versus brother matchup: the Manning Bowl. Peyton and Eli Manning have become to the of the NFL‘s best and most polarizing quarterbacks, with three Super Bowl rings (2 for Eli, 1 for Peyton) between the two of them.
The brothers have met twice, both with Peyton playing quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. In 2006, Peyton’s Colts edged Eli’s New York Giants 26-21; the Colts went on to win the Super Bowl that season. Four years later, Peyton torched the Giants while Eli was kept in check and the result was a 24-point Colts win.
Today is a far different day from either of the previous meetings between the brothers Manning. The most glaring difference will be that Peyton is now quarterback of the Denver Broncos. Eli is still with the Giants, but his Giants team is also far different from even the team that lost to Peyton a few years ago.
The glue for the Giants for many years was their punishing defensive line and the ability of their defense as a whole to not give up massive amounts of points. That kind of defense likely won’t be on display today if the nearly 300 passing yards and 36 points they gave up last week to Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys is any indication.
Peyton’s ability to adapt is unlike that of any quarterback of his generation. This allowed Peyton to immediately produce with a new group of receivers after a year on the shelf with neck and spine issues. One season is all Peyton needs at this point in his career to become acclimated with his receivers, as well as playing in the increased elevation of Denver, Colorado. Last week’s seven-touchdown performance against the Baltimore Ravens showed how well Peyton and receivers are in sync.
Eli’s advantage in this area is that he has had multiple seasons to throw to his two top targets: Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Hearing that Eli has thrown a touchdown to either man has become so commonplace, you’d think these two receivers were joined at the hip with Eli.
Neither team has a spectacular running game, but the Giants have showed in the last week that they are worried about there’s. David Wilson lost two fumbles and the Giants decided they needed another running back. So they worked out several big name running backs without a home and ended up bringing back Brandon Jacobs, who last played in New York for the Giants’ last championship team in 2011.
The Broncos didn’t do any better running the ball in week one, but don’t have any anxiety in that department. Their running attack is stocked with the men the Broncos have known would head their running game since the beginning of training camp: Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball.
If anything is going to determine this game, it’s going to be turnovers. The Giants committed six last week against the Cowboys and dug themselves into a three-score hole because of it. The Broncos lost two fumbles against the Ravens, but it didn’t end up costing them as the Broncos never trailed by more than a touchdown in the game.
The Broncos’ defense did allow Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to enjoy a productive first half, but because of the Broncos’ offense scoring over and over, Flacco was forced to throw over 60 passes because of the increasing deficit his team faced. Lucky for the Giants, Eli is used to throwing that many passes in a game.
Eli will likely have to throw 60 times, but I still don’t think it will matter. The Broncos offense will continue to roll up tons of yards and points, and will stay out of reach for most of the game, leading to Peyton going 3-0 against his little brother.
My prediction: Denver (-4) 38, New York 31
Straight up: 1-0
Against the Spread: 1-0