Narratives can change quickly in the NFL. (Just ask the Jets if they lose to New England on Sunday.) One week into the season, the Giants have a mostly satisfying win under their belts: Eli Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw were impressive enough, and the secondary looked much improved, but the special-teams unit struggled and the receivers had trouble with passes not thrown directly at their chests. After one week, Giants fans likely haven’t changed their opinions about a potential contender team that was supposed to be at least pretty good. One week in and they do, indeed, look at least pretty good. A win on Sunday, though — on the road at the defending AFC champs, Eli beating Peyton for the first time — and the Giants become the team to beat the NFC East.
Sunday’s broadcast will certainly be full of infographics on the Manning brothers and reaction shots of Archie up in his sky box, and that’s inevitable. The first Manning vs. Manning matchup — a 2006 Colts victory — will surely be referenced and dissected. But a comparison of the two is unfair to Eli: He can be (and is) a very good NFL quarterback without necessarily being as good as his big brother. (Relatively few quarterbacks in the history of football, in fact, are as good as his big brother.)
A lot has changed since Manning Bowl I: Both brothers, for example, have won a Super Bowl. In fact, that’s not even the game on our minds as Week 2 approaches. Instead, we can’t help recall last year’s high-profile, nationally broadcast Week 2 game in Dallas to open the Cowboys’ new stadium in front of 105,000 people, including George W. Bush and a bunch of cage dancers. The Giants came out of that one with a victory and quite a bit of confidence — but without a healthy Kenny Phillips, who’d be placed on injured-reserve just days after his two-interception performance. The goal on Sunday night: head back to New Jersey with all three of those things this time.