This week, we compare two NFC East quarterbacks who have had roller-coaster careers. Both have taken a lot of heat recently from major media markets and rabid fan bases for the boneheaded mistakes they’ve become synonymous with.

And because it’s more interesting when this is the case, we’re debating two players from very different backgrounds.

Eli Manning is an NFL legacy and former No. 1 overall draft pick out of SEC power Mississippi. His brother is a lock for the Hall of Fame and he’s been through the hype machine in the media capital of the world.

Tony Romo is not a legacy. He was passed on 262 times in the 2003 NFL draft after graduating from Eastern Illinois out of the less celebrated Ohio Valley Conference. His older sister Jossalyn is best known as Candice Crawford’s bridesmaid at the Crawford-Romo wedding of 2011.

Who would you rather have on your team?

Tony Romo
Age: 31
Experience: 9th season
Career stats: 65 starts, 125 TD, 67 INT, 64.1%, 8.1 AVG, 192.7 YDS/game, 95.3 rating
Last 16 starts: 29 TD, 13 INT, 67.7%, 8.1 AVG, 296.1 YDS/game, 99.5 rating
This season: 7 TD, 5 INT, 65.1%, 8.4 AVG, 318.2 YDS/game, 92.9 rating
Career win-loss record: 39-22 (.639)
Playoff record: 1-3
Playoff stats: 4 TD, 2 INT, 59.3%, 6.2 AVG, 208.0 YDS/game, 80.8 rating
Turnovers per game: 1.29
Games with three or more turnovers: 10


Eli Manning
Age: 30
Experience: 8th season
Career stats: 107 starts, 164 TD, 115 INT, 58.2%, 6.9 AVG, 217.5 YDS/game, 81.1 rating
Last 16 starts: 34 TD, 21 INT, 62.8%, 7.6 AVG, 253.9 YDS/game, 94.2 rating
This season: 8 TD, 2 INT, 64.0%, 8.5 AVG, 266.5 YDS/game, 105.6 rating
Career win-loss record: 60-43 (.583)
Playoff record: 4-3 (Super Bowl winner and Super Bowl MVP)
Playoff stats: 8 TD, 7 INT, 58.5%, 6.7 AVG, 185.3 YDS/game, 77.6 rating
Turnovers per game: 1.34
Games with three or more turnovers: 20

Romo’s numbers are flat-out better than Manning’s, especially as of late. Manning led the league with 25 interceptions in 2010 and Romo continues to display more accuracy.

That said, Manning obviously has had significantly more success in January. His MVP performance in the 2008 Super Bowl carries quite a lot of weight. So the argument could be made that Eli is better in clutch situations. The playoff statistics are pretty close, but Manning has led 19 game-winning drives in his career to Romo’s 12. Manning has also led 16 fourth-quarter comebacks to Romo’s 11, but he’s started 42 more games, so the edge is minimal.

The interesting thing about this debate is that neither has received significantly more support from his team. The Giants and Cowboys have both been playoff contenders since the 2005 season, so I’m basically taking the above numbers at face value.

Romo has a better career winning percentage than Manning does, but Romo relieved Drew Bledsoe on a proven winner in ’06, while Manning had to start as a rookie in ’04, going 1-6 in seven games. Erase their first seasons and Manning’s winning percentage is .686; Romo’s is .647.

Durability¬†is a major factor in this comparison. Manning hasn’t missed a start since his first game in November, 2004, while Romo has had to sit out 13 games due to injury (10 last year due to a broken collarbone and three in 2008 due to a broken finger). But as a result, Romo has started significantly fewer games and thus might be fresher at this point in his career (despite being a year old than Manning). It helps Romo’s cause that neither of his injuries were the type that linger.

They’ve both done pretty well in the all-important wife category, too…

My take: I wouldn’t feel entirely comfortable with either quarterback leading my team with three minutes to play in a close game. I don’t know why, but neither guy inspires a lot of confidence. But Romo has always been much more accurate than Manning, and I do think he’s better at improvising to make plays. The David Tyree play and Super Bowl XLII in general was special, but that was four years ago, and Manning hasn’t exactly been Mr. Clutch since. I’ll take Romo.

So, who would you rather?

Last week’s Would You Rather: Darren McFadden or LeSean McCoy?