[EDITOR'S NOTE: Since 'Blitz' has posted his 'Case for Ben' over on Behind the Steel Curtain I figured I would also put my 'case for Eli' up here.]
Let me start by saying this -- Ben Roethlisberger is a tremendous quarterback, probably one of the five best in the league. Had the Giants drafted him in 2004 I have no doubt Giants fans would be absolutely thrilled to have Big Ben as our quarterback.
Let me also say this. I also understand that, in standing up for Eli here, I have the more difficult argument to make. Purely looking at the statistics, Roethlisberger's numbers dwarf Manning's.
- Completion percentage: Advantage Roethlisberger, 63.2% to 55.4%.
- Quarterback rating: Advantage Roethlisberger, 93.0 to 74.9.
- Interceptions: Eli has 68 to Ben's 57, although Eli has about 400 more attempts.
- Touchdowns: Advantage Roethlisberger, 93-85.
Even this season, when Eli is statistically having his best season (61.8% completions, 89.1 rating) Roethlisberger's numbers are slightly better (63.2% completions, 98.1 rating).
So, how on earth can I make the argument that I would choose Eli over Roethlisberger?
If you have watched Manning play, as I have, since the beginning of the 2007 playoffs, you know how I can make that choice.
As good as Roethlisberger is, I believe he is as good as he is ever going to get. Aside from his miserable, injury-plagued 2006 season his numbers have been pretty consistent throughout his career. He's damn good, but he isn't going to get better.
There is one other thingworking against Roethlisberger. That would be the number of hits Roethlisberger takes behind that Pittsburgh line. He has been sacked 65 more times in his career than Eli, and hit countless more. Whether that is his fault or the line's, or a combination of both I don't know. Eventually, though, that has to take a toll.
Eli, I believe, is just beginning to scratch the surface of the ability that he possesses. In last year's playoffs he completed 60.5 percent of his passes, had six touchdown passes, just one interception, outplayed Jeff Garcia, Tony Romo, Brett Favre and Tom Brady. He has picked up from there this season, playing the best football of his career.
It has taken Manning longer to reach the stardom that many predicted for him, but he has. And when you see the difference in him from the uncertain, often erratic quarterback he still was toward the end of last season to the confident leader and much more accurate passer he is today he makes you believe his best is yet to become.
I can't wait to see what else he has in store for Giants fans as his career continues to unfold. That is why I will take Eli.