INDIANAPOLIS — There's a strange vibe on the streets of Indianapolis this week.
Welcome home, Eli.
Yes, it seems many residents want New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning to feel just as comfortable inside Lucas Oil Stadium as his more celebrated older brother so the city's hated rival — the Patriots — goes home a loser in Super Bowl.
Take it away Eli. It's up to you to defend Peyton's place.
"I've been hearing it since before the championship games," Super Bowl host committee chairman Mark Miles said. "Folks understand the (Colts-Patriots) rivalry, and I'd say it's a safe bet that the Giants fans will outnumber the Patriots fans next week."
It may not look exactly that way next Sunday since the high-priced tickets usually prevent either team from gaining a true home-field advantage. But then again, this is a unique situation, and around town there's little doubt who Colts fans will be rooting for.
From those who considered making T-shirts that read something along the lines of "I'm a Giants fan -- this week" to former Colts players stunned to see New England invading their secluded team complex, the reaction is pretty much the same: Anybody but the Patriots.
What advice can Peyton give his little brother about playing in the house he built? Apparently not much.
"I don't think he's ever been the away team in his own stadium," Eli joked this week.
Yet because there's a Colt-Giants connection through the Manning clan, Indy fans can keep their rooting interests all in the family.
Peyton, of course, has won his league-record four MVPs with the Colts, brought the city its first Super Bowl title after the 2006 season and has produced all but two of the team's 23 wins in their new home stadium.
The family patriarch, Archie, has become one of the city's favorite sons. He shows up for Peyton's annual bowling tournament, other charity events and was even planning to be in town for next Sunday's pre-game tailgate party early on in the regular season. It just seemed like the perfect time and place for a family reunion.
"We know the scene, where we want to go, where to eat, that sort of thing," said Cooper Manning, the oldest of the three brothers. "It's not going to be as unorganized as it normally is at the Super Bowl, and I think it will be comfortable."
For Giants fans, that is.
At The Collector's Den, a sports and entertainment memorabilia shop inside the city's downtown mall, one store employee has already been catching grief about the framed, autographed Tom Brady jersey that sits in the front window. It retails for $2,500.
On Thursday, the signed Eli Manning jersey finally arrived with a price tag of $700.
Next week, when the team's fans start arriving, well, things could get ugly.
"We'll have all those people from New York coming in and they'll really get into it, and the Boston people, too, because they'll have that thick accent, too," said Brian Yoxall, a sales rep for the store who doesn't anticipate anything more than some good-natured ribbing.
Patriots fans can take solace in one thing, though.
"The Brady jersey will probably generate more interest because he's won three Super Bowls and Eli has won one," Yoxall said.
That's a line that stings in Indy, regardless of which Manning brother is the topic.
But it's the stark contrasts between the team's fates that make this year's big game so intriguing for the locals.
When Indianapolis was awarded its first Super Bowl, back in 2008, most Colts fans thought they would be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Instead, Peyton, who had never missed a start in 13 seasons, had two neck surgeries in four months, missed the season and the Colts missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
In New York, Eli rallied the Giants from a late-season slide just in time to win the NFC East. After beating Atlanta in a wild-card game, the Giants won road games at Green Bay and San Francisco to give Eli a chance at becoming the only Manning to win in the Colts' home stadium this season.
Together, Eli and Brady are a combined 0-3 at the Colts' venue.
"If he was my brother, I'd say 'Hey, you've got to go beat those Patriots for all those years I couldn't,'" said Jim Sorgi, a former backup quarterback for both of the brothers.
If Eli wins next week, the Mannings would finally be even with Brady in Super Bowl wins, though Eli would have one more than championship ring than his older brother.
Indy fans wouldn't mind a bit since it would prevent the Patriots from winning their fourth title.
"I think the universal thought here was that we were delighted to have Eli," Miles said. "We want to make Eli feel like this is his hometown."