The case for both teams
A valid argument can be made for both sides. There has always been a debate about who is the better quarterback out of the two, with many taking Eli’s rings over Rivers’ production. However, at this point in their careers, Rivers has edged out Eli in nearly every relevant statistic.
Even though Manning has started 22 more games than Rivers, Rivers still has 14 more touchdown passes. Meanwhile, Eli has thrown 61 more interceptions. Rivers edges out Eli in total touchdowns, yards per game, yards per attempt, passer rating, completion percentage, touchdown-interception ratio and TD percentage.
The only passing statistic where Eli beats Rivers is total yards, but it doesn’t come as a surprise as he has started way more games. Manning also has 27 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career, one more than Rivers’ 26. All stats were obtained from NFL.com and Pro Football Reference.
Even Giants fans have come to recognize Rivers’ superiority as a passer. Our FanSided friends from GMEN HQ said the following back in 2015:
“Giants fans do not like to admit things of this sort, but Rivers’ skill-set would offer a clear and significant upgrade from that of Eli Manning, especially at this stage of their careers.”
While Manning is wildly inconsistent in the regular season, his postseason play can’t be ignored. Eli is one of the most clutch quarterbacks in NFL history, and has 37 game-winning drives to his name. His two Super Bowl rings against Tom Brady and his two Super Bowl MVPs speak for themselves.
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The question that has to be asked is, would the Giants have won two Super Bowls with Rivers? We will never know. The Giants made the trade because they wanted to win. They ultimately won two Super Bowls, in large part thanks to Eli, so that feels like a win for them.
On the other side, the Chargers got one of the most prolific passers in NFL history and a franchise legend. They also got through the draft picks an outstanding linebacker who dominated on defense for three years, a solid and accurate placekicker who kicked for the Chargers for eight years, and a veteran tackle who helped mentor a young line. It also feels like a big win for the Chargers.
Would Giants fans prefer to never have gotten Manning and stick with Rivers? Probably not. Would Chargers fans prefer to have kept Manning instead of Rivers? Never. The verdict? Both teams won the Rivers-Manning trade.