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Peter King on Mut & Merloni: Talking Eli Manning, Tom Coughlin, Patriots’ defensive line

01.27.12 at 3:23 pm ET
By

Peter King

Making his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni Show, SI.com’s Peter King talked about all things Super Bowl, including where Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin ranks among the greats, along with how people should be paying attention to the Patriots’ defensive line.

(On Giants getting to Super Bowl) I think everyone thought the Patriots could and probably would be there, but I don’t think anybody saw a month ago, who knows? Without Victor Cruz’ 99-yard play against the Jets, who knows if they’d even win that game. That’s why football is so fun. You get hot at the right time and all of a sudden you look unbeatable, and both of these teams you can say that right now. Both of them got hot at the right time.

(Regarding Tom Coughlin) I kind of wrote about how great Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin have been for each other. They came in at the same time in 2004. They’ve both been embattled at different times. If Tom Coughlin had saved his job as many times as the media thought he did, he’d have more saves than Mariano Rivera.

If you look at the all-time list of coaches and you look at where Tom Coughlin is right now, he’s smack dab on the all-time wins list right now with Marv Levy. If Coughlin wins another one here, you’re going to look at him and say, ‘Geez – he has two Super Bowls and as many wins as Levy. How could he not be in the Hall of Fame?’

But I can tell you this from talking to Tom a few times over the last few weeks. He’s not leaving, wehtehr they win this game by 50 or lose this game by 50. He wants to coach a while longer. If you just imagine him staying in the league another three years and maybe winning 8-10 games a year, he’ll be knocking on the door of the top 10 all-time winningest coaches. At that point, you’re going to have to say this guy really looks solid for the Hall of Fame.

(On Eli Manning) It’s almost the same for Eli Manning. If Eli Manning has a second Super Bowl win, plays another three or four years at somewhat near the level that he’s playing now, a lot of the numbers in football are monopoly-money type numbers. Eli Manning has played so well that you have to look at him and say he has a heck of a shot at Canton as well.

(More on Coughlin) I think he did a remarkable job in Jacksonville, and I think he’s done a very good job – I wouldn’t call it remarkable – a very good job with the Giants. He’s worthy of discussion with the greats in the games.

(Eli in Hall of Fame with win?) I think you have to also say, if Eli never played another game after Sunday and won the Super Bowl. … I’m not positive. I’m a voter and I’d have mixed feelings. I look at it and say he’s going to paly more football. If he has three or four normal seasons after this, I’d say, ‘OK, he was a peer of the great quarterbacks for a long time.’ I won’t call it unique with Eli, but I will say that anybody who in one playoff season goes on the road and beats Tampa,

Beats Brett Favre at Lambeau and then beats the 18-0 Patritos. Beats Aaron Rodgers at Green Bay. Beats the No. 2 seed on the road also I think the 2007 postseason for Manning is one of the best a quarterback has ever had. I think this year is a very good one, obviously if he wins next week … That’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal, those two games back-to-back, but certainly this year would add to Eli’s legacy.

(On Patriots’ front seven) They’re playing fantastic. I said, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gerard Warren play this well, ever, even going back to when he was the third pick in the draft.’ Kyle Love has played eight very good run-stopping quarters. Vince Wilfork, I don’t know how a guy who has every bit the look of a nose tackle, I don’t know how a buy can move as quickly as he does. Those guys played fantastic.

I know the Giants defensive line is getting all the attention. I look at this and I say, ‘The Giants are going to have a real problem blocking the New England front, the way that they’re playing. The one thing the Giants are being really careful about, they’re being careful about saying, ‘Look, don’t expect a repeat of Feb. 2008.’ To get five sacks and eight knockdowns of Tom Brady, how many times has that happened in his life? Imagine 13 times in a game being abused. I look at it and I say the Patriots are going to figure out a way to better protect Brady.

Last week, even though they played Baltimore well … When Paul Kruger went around Nate Solder and got that sack … What happens when he goes up against Jason Pierre-Paul, how much help are they going to have to give him? You start thinking about the depth that the Giants have right now and I think they’re going to be tough to block. I think that’s what makes this a fun game. It is a chess piece game. Each offensive coordinator has to figure out ways. … to protect their quarterback so they can do what they do best. Brady has outlets that areshort and intermediate stuff. If he gets the ball to Aaron Hernandez in space, he doesn’t have to hold it for three seconds.

It’s a great, great, fun chess game, and unlike in 2007 when everyone looked at the game and said it is tremendously, is it the Patriots advantage, I don’t think you say that this time. I can see either team winning this game and I don’t think it would be an upset at all if either team did.

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