The problem with Eli is that he is the most inconsistent QB in the NFL. He can be horrible and great from game-to-game and in some cases from half-to-half.
I think we would be re-missed if we didn't include Brees in this conversation. To me the slide started when the Saints beat Peyton for a ring and then Rodgers really made it known it had started when he won the Super Bowl and then the MVP in back-to-back years.
I was driving back after the game tonight and heard someone point out on the radio since starting 10-0 in the playoffs Brady is now just 6-7 in the playoffs and the host was saying this loss just does something to the Pats playoff mystique in his eyes. He pointed out since his third Super Bowl win Brady is only 2-4 in AFC Title games or Super Bowls.
As for Peyton. I think most people view this year as kinda cementing what his legacy will ultimately be. One like Favre. He got to the big game and won it so he wont be knocked like a Kelly, Marino, or Tarkenton but he didn't win as many as people expected him too. He was a great player but his teams under achieved in the playoffs.
Brees isn't getting any younger either but he is still going to be alive for a while IMO. But, with Payton back next year maybe they get sparked up for a run again for a while. The Saints D still sucks though and has work to do.
And yes it is interesting that the Saints beat the Colts in the SB and the last two times the Pats were there they lost to the Giants. And the Steelers lost to the Pack.
The AFC "elite" has not been so elite lately in the big games.
Precisely, unless Manning wins a Playoff game next year in a convincing fashion, #18's career will be set in stone as a 1 time SB Champion. The only way Peyton will win another ring is multiple RBs who can all play excellent pass protection & get 4-5 yards on the ground to set up the play action pass.
It's funny how the NFC fluctuates in the 80's the 49ers dominated, in the early 90's it was the Cowboys, by 2000 NE began to take over & now the pendulum is swinging back to the NFC with the Saints SB win in 2009 & the NY Giants in 2012. The 49ers are due again.
The Brady vs Manning rivalry is dead now. Look to Luck, Rodgers, Kaepernick, & RG3 now...We are undergoing a changing of the QB guard now...