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Video: Is Eli in same class as Brady?

Giants quarterback Eli Manning took a lot of heat for putting himself in the same elite class as Tom Brady earlier this year, but so far this season his numbers seem to back up his words.

Manning ranks third in the league in passer rating this season (102.1), behind only Aaron Rodgers (125.7) and Brady (104.4). He is also averaging 304 yards passing per game, which puts him fourth in the league, just behind Brady (337). His 13-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio is actually better than Brady’s (18-8), though not by much (2.6-to-1 for Manning compared to 2.25-to-1 for Brady). And his completion percentage (64.7) is fifth in the NFL, again just behind Brady (67.6).

However, according to ESPN's new Total Quarterback Rating statistic, which was developed this season to better measure a QB's overall contributions to a team, Manning isn't quite as close to Brady as it seems. Brady's total QBR for the season is 76.6, which ranks second in the NFL through eight weeks. Manning ranks ninth at 65.6.

The analysts from ESPN's "Numbers Never Lie" debate whether Manning is indeed in the same class as Brady.

"Yes, he's playing in Tom Brady's class," says Michael Smith in the video above. "From the back of the room, by the door, quiet, not raising his hand, but he is in the room nonetheless. Give credit where credit is due. A couple of weeks ago we killed him for the meltdown against Seattle, and even against St. Louis he looked bad. But he is carrying this team that has no running game, a rebuilt offensive line and young wide receivers and not turning it over."

Giants receiver Victor Cruz (not the most unbiased observer, we admit) said Friday he had no doubt Manning was in Brady's class.

“I think a lot of people forget that he’s a Super Bowl MVP quarterback,” Cruz said on Boston sports radio WEEI. “He’s done some great things in some tough situations in the past. Playing in New York is tough. You don’t get a lot of the credit. A lot of people see a lot of the bad things and kind of harp on that. But he’s a great quarterback and I think should be up there with the Bradys and the Rodgers and guys like that. Because he’s doing those same things.”

Do you agree with Smith that Manning is in Brady's class? Share your thoughts in the poll above and the comments section.