Hot Topic: Manning vs. Manning

Now that the Giants have started their preseason schedule, defeating Baltimore 17-16 Friday night, the countdown has begun in earnest to the start of the regular season.

For the Giants, that will be a night game, too. It will be a nationally televised contest against the Indianapolis Colts, already being called the "Brother Bowl" since it will pit quarterback Peyton Manning of the Colts against his younger sibling, Eli, quarterback of the Giants.

Their father, famous former quarterback Archie Manning, was asked if he planned to attend.

"Of course," he said.

And where will his rooting interests lie?

"With my son," of course.

Which one?


Fine, but where will that leave the Giants once the game is played?

"I have never beaten Peyton in anything," Eli says, "and, in fact, I have only played against him in basketball. We have never been on the same football field together. I am looking forward to this but I can't allow it to take up too much of my attention. You know, in a way I'm glad it's the opening game. That way, no matter what happens, we'll have 15 weeks to sort things out."

There is no doubt that NBC, back in the NFL business again with a weekly Sunday night offering, campaigned long and loud for this game. It is a remarkable viewer attraction, and ratings figure to be astronomical.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin, however, won't comment on the other aspects of the game, saying only, "It's our season opener and we want to win it."

He acknowledges that Eli Manning has played better and better since his rookie year of 2004, when he started the final seven games of the season. He took the Giants to a playoff appearance last season, though it ended with a humiliating 23-0 first-round loss to Carolina. Coughlin notes that Manning "is smarter and bigger and playing with more confidence this summer."

Manning played just part of the first quarter Friday night against the Ravens, completing 4 of 7 passes for 74 yards and leading the Giants on an 80-yard drive capped with a 1-yard touchdown run by second-year back Brandon Jacobs.

"We did all right on that drive," Manning said, "but we still have a lot of work to do."

The way Coughlin operates is to quietly install a goal for the players, and in this case, according to many of them, the goal is to win that opening game. He hasn't gone quite so far as to say "Win it for Eli," but the unspoken incentive is there.

The players feel they can become part of a special team this season, perhaps even a Super Bowl contender, and winning the Brother Bowl would take them a long way in that direction.

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