The NFL careers of Eli Manning and Philip Rivers have been intertwined since Day 1, as the two quarterbacks were swapped in a draft-day trade between the San Diego Chargers and New York Giants back in 2004. And now, both guys are set to enter a contract year, as Big Blue reportedly is comfortable letting the 34-year-old Manning play out his deal while the 33-year-old Rivers apparently feels inclined to head into next season without an extension.
Taking everything into account (recent performance, surrounding talent, etc.), who will enjoy a better 2015 campaign: Manning or Rivers?
Ultimately, I expect Eli to pick up where he left off in the stretch run of 2014; he posted a 12:3 TD-to-INT ratio in the last six games of the season.
Rivers' late-season slump last winter was attributable to
a painful back injury and a subpar offensive line. With both of those issues fixed in 2015, I believe he still has the edge in this showdown.
And if I may transcend the short-term for a moment, I've got bigger news: Whether or not his detractors are ready to accept it, Eli is going to the
Hall of Fame.
Everyone's defense of Eli starts with "Rings!", but Rivers would have two rings if he was with the
Giants -- and he'd have a lot more than one playoff berth in the last six seasons.
And Manning has better offensive talent around him than Philip Rivers. In addition to getting Victor Cruz back this season, Eli has Shane Vereen joining him in the backfield. Those guys will be major factors on third down. New York still has the 2015 NFL Draft to improve the O-line, something that'd make the offense even stronger.