Eli Manning Is Holding the Giants Back From Being a Legitimate Title Contender
The New York Giants made a statement over the past two games with impressive wins over both the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions. The Giants are now 10-4 and are -- barring an epic collapse -- going to the playoffs.
It's really been all about the defense. Our schedule-adjusted metrics rank the Giants' offense 24th in the league, one spot ahead of the potent Cleveland Browns. The catalyst behind the supbar performance is quarterback Eli Manning, who is turning in a very pedestrian season.
How bad has he been? Let's take a look at some numbers.
The Book of Eli
Eli Manning completed 20 of 28 passes for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns on Sunday in the victory over the Lions. It was a fine performance against a playoff-caliber team, but these performances have been few and far between in 2016.
Manning is tied for seventh in passing touchdowns with 25, and his 13 interceptions are the seventh-most in the league.
Manning's yards per pass attempt is a paltry 6.87, which ranks 23rd among quarterbacks. He's throwing shorter passes, on average, than checkdown kings like Alex Smith and Sam Bradford. His passer rating is 89.3, which ranks 19th among quarterbacks.
In all, his advanced metrics are rather disappointing.
Manning rates poorly by our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. If you're new numberFire, NEP is our signature metric, and it allows us to dig deeper into a player's performance than traditional stats. In short, a five-yard pass on 3rd-and-4 shouldn't count the same as a five-yard completion on 3rd-and-10. NEP accounts for that, and you can read more about it in our glossary.
Among quarterbacks with at least 200 drop backs this season, Manning currently ranks 23rd in Passing NEP per drop back. He's also 23rd in Passing Success Rate, which is the percentage of his drop backs that have positively impacted NEP.
|Year||Drop Backs||Passing NEP/P||Rank||Success Rate||Rank|
And it's not just NEP that views him poorly.
According to ESPN's QBR rating system, Manning currently ranks 26th among qualified quarterbacks with a QBR rating of 52.7. The scale ranges from 0 to 100, with an average quarterback expected to have a QBR around 50.
By any metric you choose, Manning has been bad this season relative to prior years.
It's also worth noting that Eli rates this low despite having all-everything wideout Odell Beckham at his disposal.
As we mentioned earlier, the Giants are nearly a lock to make the postseason, with our models giving them a 99.8% chance. But with the Dallas Cowboys sitting atop the NFC East at 12-2, the Giants' odds of winning the division are a meager 1.2%.
The offshore sportsbook Bovada has the Giants at 16-to-1 to win it all. This currently ranks seventh among all teams and fourth among NFC teams. Our models list their title odds at 1.5%, which ranks ninth in the NFL.
The Giants weren't favorites to win it all in their previous two Super Bowl runs, but if they're going to go on another miraculous run, they'll likely need Manning to up his production.
On the contrary, with the way their defense is playing -- our schedule-adjusted metrics have New York's defense ranked third -- the unit may be able to carry them to a title similarly to how the Denver Broncos' defense carried Eli's brother, Peyton Manning, to a championship last season.
If Eli can find that playoff magic of previous Super Bowl runs and improve his level of play, the Giants will be a very tough out. Considering that they already have two wins over Dallas, the NFC favorite, with Eli struggling, they're are definitely capable of a run if Manning gets going.