Playing on the better team certainly helped, but if there was any question about who is the better quarterback, Peyton Manning or Eli Manning, the performance put on by the Denver Broncos for a second consecutive week erased any shred of doubt anyone had.
Even if Eli does have more Super Bowl rings, an individual can’t be judged by the achievements of a team with 53 players on it alone. Peyton Manning is leading the Denver Broncos to an incredible start, putting up 90 points through the first two games of the season, at an age he shouldn’t be this good at, especially when considering the neck surgery he underwent not too long ago to get himself back in the game.
The Denver Broncos showed that they can put up points with ease against a defense that’s as bad as the Giants, finishing with a dominating 41-23 win that had it all for them: Excellent passing game for Manning (307 yards, two touchdowns), a strong running game from Knowshon Moreno (93 yards, 2 touchdowns) and an excellent defensive display, intercepting Eli four times (he has been picked off seven times this season) and stopping the Giants’ running game at a pathetic 23 yards on 19 carries.
A little interesting stat to show just how strong the Broncos are? They’re the first team to beat the last two Super Bowl champions, which does need some scheduling luck, since 1992. They’re also the first team to do it on the first two games of a season, and the last team to do that, the Dallas Cowboys (also in 1992) went on to win the Super Bowl.
But these kind of statistical coincidences don’t mean anything about the Broncos’ chances to win the title. Their defense forcing four turnovers might a bit of a better indicator, as they got one sack and 7 quarterback hits on Eli, even without Von Miller, still serving a suspension. The Giants have now turned the ball over 10 times during the first two games, a new franchise record. Manning tired to force it way too much, especially when it came to big plays. He completed 1-of-7 passes deeper than 20 yards downfield for 51 yards and two interceptions. Last season, he threw only two interceptions on such throws.
Peyton Manning on the other hand is putting up huge numbers with a positive twist compared to his brother – He has thrown for 769 yards, nine touchdowns and 0 interceptions this season so far; That’s the most passing yards AND the most passing TD without an interception through 2 games in NFL history.
The difference was working on the short game instead of throwing deep. Peyton was 25-of-32 for 205 yards and two touchdowns on throws 10 yards downfield or fewer, as his receivers gained 116 yards after catch on those short throws, their second-straight game with more than 115 yards after catch, something that happened only three times all of last season.
The Broncos are going to be mentioned as Super Bowl contenders all season long. The Giants? Probably not, although no one is undefeated in the NFC East, which means it’s wide open. But the Giants are putting too much on Eli’s plate for him to handle, while Peyton, who is the better player anyway, seems to have all the right ingredients to keep this pace of scoring and winning alive.