East Rutherford, N.J. • Welcome to Manning Bowl III, the last topic Peyton and Eli want to discuss.
In any other week, the two Super Bowl MVPs don’t hesitate to discuss the other. With the Denver Broncos (1-0) facing the New York Giants (0-1) Sunday at MetLife Stadium, their reluctance about discussing their sibling shows. They don’t encourage the appearance that the game is Eli vs. Peyton and the other players don’t matter.
On Peyton’s conference call with the New York-area media this week, Peyton answered 10 minutes of questions about Eli and himself. Finally, the 37-year-old big brother wondered aloud if anyone was going to ask him about the Giants’ defense. That defense is tasked with slowing down a quarterback who tied the NFL record with seven touchdown passes in a 49-27 win over the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Eli and Peyton usually talk at least once a week. They have shared information about opponents and appraised each other’s play. This week is trickier because they are also sharing information with teammates.
“It’s still neat because it doesn’t happen very often and it is neat seeing your big brother on the sideline or seeing him before the game,” Eli said.” Those moments are the things you remember and we’ll remember for a long time. Hopefully when I think back on these games that we played against my brother, I can think back and remember at least one win.”
Peyton won the first two games against Eli while playing with the Indianapolis Colts:26-21 in 2006 and 38-14 in 2010.
“Playing against your brother in an NFL game, it’s a little bit different than playing against him in Little League baseball, or whatnot,” Peyton said. “It’s significant, I think for he and I.
“But because it’s a team sport the focus has to be on doing your job to help the team get ready to play. So this will be the third time, possibly could be the last time. I think I will take a moment there, whenever it is—in pregame warm-ups, the national anthem, coin toss, whenever that is—I think you do take a moment there. And you kind of capture it and hold onto it. I have a moment from the 2006 game and the 2010 game, but that’s one moment. The rest of the time you’re going out and trying to do your job as a quarterback and help your team win.”
Broncos coach John Fox recognizes it’s human nature to be interested in the brothers.
“I have appreciation for it because I have such respect for the family, both guys in the league,” Fox said. “I think they’re both highly competitive guys at quite arguably what may be the hardest position to play in professional sports.”
Here are five things to watch when the Broncos and Giants meet:
EXPECT FIREWORKS: Peyton (462) and Eli (450) combined for 11 touchdown passes last week, and the Giants would have had a lot more points had they not turned the ball over six times in their 36-31 loss to Dallas. Neither team ran the ball well. This could be an air show.
WILSON WOES: Giants running back David Wilson will be a marked man after fumbling twice against Dallas, with one being returned for a touchdown. The Giants signed veteran Brandon Jacobs earlier in the week, but Da’Rel Scott may be Wilson’s backup.
RIDE ‘EM BRONCS: Denver has won 12 straight regular-season games, the NFL’s longest active streak. Their only recent loss was the stunner the Ravens manufactured in the postseason. It’s no wonder everyone thinks Peyton and company will be back here for the Super Bowl in February.
PRESSURE, PRESSURE, PRESSURE: While the Giants can win a shootout, their best chance is to find a way to get pressure on Peyton. DE Jason Pierre-Paul should be better in his second game of the season and a healthy Justin Tuck looks like a new player. Expect the Giants to use a lot of nickel and dime schemes.
NOT ALL PEYTON: Denver’s defense held Ray Rice to 36 yards rushing and the Ravens to 58 overall on the ground. Backup linebacker Shaun Phillips had 2½ sacks playing for the suspended Von Miller in passing situations; cornerback Chris Harris had an interception; and linebacker Danny Trevathan would have scored on a pick had he not fumbled just before crossing the goal line.