Manning sees himself in Brady's class; Reese believes in Giants

While general manager Jerry Reese backpedaled a bit Tuesday on his claim that his New York Giants would make the playoffs in 2011, quarterback Eli Manning was all confidence when discussing where he ranks among his NFL peers.

Manning told ESPN in a radio interview that he believes he's in the same class as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, considered by some to be the NFL's premier signal-caller.

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"I consider myself in that class," Manning said. "Tom Brady is a great quarterback, he's a great player, and what you've seen with him is he's gotten better every year, and he started off winning championships, and I think he's a better quarterback now than what he was, in all honesty, when he was winning those championships. I think he's ... gotten better every year, and that's what I'm trying to do. I kind of hope these next seven years of my quarterback days are my best."

Manning, who beat Brady's Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII, threw for 4,002 yards and 31 touchdowns last season, but he also posted a career-high 25 interceptions.

"I'm not a 25-interception quarterback, I know that," Manning said. "That's going to be fixed, and it should be a good year."

As for Reese, he told reporters last Thursday, "We'll make the playoffs this time, and we'll get into the playoffs and make a run."

But on Tuesday, he told ESPN that he wasn't promising anything.

"First of all, I never said guarantee and I never said promise, that's the way they spin it in this neighborhood," Reese said. "I was giving our team a vote of confidence that I have in them. I said last year if we had made some plays down the stretch here and there, we would have been in the playoffs, and this time we'll make the plays. We will get in the playoffs. We'll make a run. I'm giving my team a vote of confidence.

"I never said promise, I never said guarantee, but when you read the paper, Jerry Reese said guarantee. That's what you get around here."

The Giants finished 10-6 in 2010, and were done in more than anything by a  38-31 loss to the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles in December.

In addition to enduring the Osi Umenyiora contract saga, the Giants also lost wide receiver Steve Smith (to the Eagles) and tight end Kevin Boss (to the Oakland Raiders) this offseason. But Manning still has a talented group of wideouts, led by Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. And New York kept its bruising backfield combination of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw intact, fueling hopes that 2011 will be a playoff season after all.

But in football, as in life, there are no guarantees.

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