Despite being named to four Pro Bowls, winning two Super Bowls, and capturing two Super Bowl MVP awards, Eli Manning remains as polarizing a figure as there is in the NFL. Whether it’s because of his older brother Peyton casting a towering shadow over his career exploits or a discomfort that he’s likely heading to the Hall of Fame, Manning’s credentials remain under scrutiny every fall. Armed with the most talented receiving corps of his career, it’s time for him to bury his critics by leading the Giants to a third Super Bowl victory with him under center.
Manning faces relentless scrutiny in large part due to the notion that he’s careless with the ball, a claim that doesn’t hold up upon further examination. There is a faction of critics who can’t get past Manning’s abysmal 2013 campaign where he threw 18 touchdowns against 27 interceptions, a season that made an indelible mark in their perception of the Giants veteran. Manning boasts a +105 touchdown-to-interception career ratio, however, and making him out to be a fortuitous Jay Cutler is entirely disingenuous. In the past three seasons, Manning’s proven to be more discerning with his turnovers while operating as a function of a high-risk, high-octane passing game, and now the Giants are well-positioned to make a deep playoff run.
Although he turned 36 in January, there’s ample reason to believe that Manning could undergo the best season of his career, armed with a top-flight supporting cast. Odell Beckham Jr. is arguably the NFL’s brightest young star, and few would be surprised if he becomes the preeminent receiver of this decade, bamboozling defenders whilst on an upward trajectory at age 24. Sterling Shepard is a rising star, too, and the Giants added Brandon Marshall, providing Manning with a veritable red-zone weapon. New York also drafted tight end Evan Engram in the first round, and in the latter stages of his career, Manning is gifted with a diverse range of weapons that can carve apart the best defenses in the league. It’s now on him to actualize the Giants’ ceiling.
The lasting image of the Giants’ 2016 season is Manning struggling to elevate the offense in a 38-13 loss to the Packers, days after the receiving corps went on a boat trip in Miami, which elucidated all types of critiques in its own right. However, this type of harrowing loss only serves as fuel for Manning and Co., who boast enough talent to compete for the Lombardi Trophy. Manning is acutely aware that his window for a third Super Bowl victory is finite, and the Giants assembled a top-notch defense to stifle a wide array of threats in the NFC, which include Matt Ryan’s Falcons, Aaron Rodgers’ Packers, and Russell Wilson’s Seahawks. In one fell swoop, Manning can quiet the hot-take artists forever.
Facing the unique pressure of carrying his family’s titanic name along with being the No. 1 pick in the world’s biggest media market, Manning has navigated his way to an excellent career where he’s been solely responsible for the Giants’ fortunes. Boasting an excellent receiving group and backed by a stout, resolute defense, it’s time for Manning to bury his critics by claiming a third Super Bowl victory next winter.
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