Eli Manning spent 16 years with the Eagles as his NFC East rival. But the former longtime Giants quarterback has no problem identifying Philadelphia as the class of the conference three weeks into the 2023 season. Despite reigning MVP candidate Jalen Hurts enduring some offensive hiccups, Manning told CBS Sports this week that he believes the Eagles are the best of the remaining undefeated teams, calling them the NFC team to beat.
"All three are very talented," Manning said of the 3-0 teams, while promoting a new partnership with King's Hawaiian. "I think the 49ers have maybe looked the most complete. Obviously the Dolphins, after putting up 70 points, Tua (Tagovailoa)'s playing great football, they have a lot of explosiveness. (But) I think the Eagles are extremely dangerous. Really, they probably haven't played their best football, yet are still 3-0. When you're able to not be hitting on all cylinders (but find) ways to win games, that's a pretty good quality, a pretty good trait, and so I think they're still the team to beat in the NFC -- them and the 49ers. I think the Eagles are the team to beat. Making the run to the Super Bowl, they're off to another good start, and you gotta try to keep up with them."
As for the Eagles' New Jersey-area counterparts, Manning isn't ready to write off the Giants or Jets, even though he is willing to rule himself out of a comeback to suit up for Gang Green.
"I'm done," he said with a laugh. "I'm happy just sitting on my couch and calling football games on Monday night. But yeah, I think Zach Wilson's the guy. He's the one who's been there through training camp. I think the hard part right now with the Jets is, their whole offense was built around Aaron Rodgers. ... So they gotta kind of change things up and figure out what plays Zach Wilson likes. And it's a new coordinator and new system for him, so unfortunately, that takes a little time to figure that out. But I think he's got ability, he's got talent, it's just (about) getting the most out of him."
Manning is also hopeful for a turnaround from his old Giants.
"I think they're definitely contenders," he said, brushing off the notion New York is headed for another rebuild. "They haven't got off to a perfect start, but that's all right. That's why you play a 17-game season. ... For them, it's just about not panicking, but understanding they gotta figure out, what's gonna be the best way to stay in games?"
So if Manning, 42, isn't personally coming back to save the Giants or the Jets, what are his plans? He can be seen on ESPN's "Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli" throughout the 2023 campaign. In between his shows there, he hosts "Slider Sundays" with his family, featuring the King's Hawaiian rolls he's promoting.
"We created a little ritual a few years ago," he said. "We get to come together -- sometimes it's just us, sometimes we invite other family or invite friends in the neighborhood to come over -- to enjoy the Sunday. Whether it's a Turkey Ranch, Sloppy Joes… pulled pork, short ribs, or (we) make them for the kiddos ... it makes for a fun day."
And his next big sports-related endeavor? Creating a playbook for coaching his 4-year-old son in flag football.
"That's the new assignment."