Eli Manning has had to deal with being Archie Manning's son and Peyton Manning's younger brother for most of his public football career. (One assumes he was also Cooper Manning's kid brother for a while, too.) When he committed to Ole Miss way back when, it was implied both that he was following in his father's footsteps and Peyton's, because he was committing to play for the same coach, David Cutcliffe, that turned Peyton into a Heisman Trophy candidate at Tennessee.
And because Eli is younger and had a lesser collegiate career than Peyton's, and entered the NFL with some hullabaloo over his family balking at him playing for the San Diego Chargers, and spent his rookie year sitting with the New York Giants while Peyton won his second consecutive NFL MVP, he's always been seen as the lesser quarterback.
This is, of course, no great shame: Peyton Manning is quite possibly the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL. And Eli, for all his faults — perceived and actual — did lead the Giants to two Super Bowl victories, something his brother hasn't been able to do in one more shot on the NFL's ultimate stage.
That may change in 2015.
To be clear, the record factoid probably won't: The Giants are 3-2 after a rally to beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, while the Broncos are 5-0, and still have four games left against the terrible AFC West; the only easy remaining non-divisional game for the Broncos is a trip to Chicago, but a two-game lead and a fearsome defense should keep Peyton's run of equal-or-better records intact.
Eli, though, has been a better quarterback this season.
Eli's has a better completion percentage, one in line with some of Peyton's best. Eli's thrown for more touchdowns and fewer interceptions, and his 10:2 touchdown:interception ratio dwarfs Peyton's awful 6:7 mark. Eli's averaging more yards per attempt and per game, and his 100.2 quarterback rating is stellar, good for ninth in the league; Peyton's 77.3 rating is 30th, one spot behind rookie Jameis Winston, and ahead of only five qualified passers.
Now, obviously, it's impressive that it's taken until 2015, when Peyton is a weak-armed version of the cyborg who laid waste to the NFL for the better part of three decades, for Eli to surpass him even once. And it's probably telling that Eli's best season may only be better than one of Peyton's worst.
And things could yet change: Peyton went from great to bad in a blink in 2014, and Eli has ... well, consistency has never really been his strong suit, and he's playing basically the best football of his life, so there's plenty of reason to suspect regression might just happen naturally.
After decades of "Peyton, Peyton, Peyton," it's not fair to say Eli Manning is in Peyton's shadow, because he did something about being there: He got better, and got out of it.
Eli Manning is a better quarterback than Peyton Manning — maybe the greatest to ever throw a spiral — right now. And you can say it with a straight face.