Hakeem Nicks: How Injury to Giants' WR Impacts Game vs. Saints

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Hakeem Nicks: How Injury to Giants' WR Impacts Game vs. Saints
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The New York Giants could see a tie atop the NFC East if Hakeem Nicks doesn't play for the G-Men against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that despite Nicks battling knee issues, the Giants do believe he'll play:

Still, an injured Nicks hasn't worked out for the Giants' passing attack this season. That was evident against the Dallas Cowboys on opening night and again vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9.

Nicks' injury doesn't just affect his own statistics and performance, but it also affects the entire rhythm of Big Blue's offense.

Last season, Nicks and teammate Victor Cruz were arguably the best wide-receiving duo in the NFL, combining for 158 receptions, 2,728 yards and 16 touchdowns as the Giants won the Super Bowl, thanks in large part to wide receiver play.

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But it's been a different season for New York's offense here in 2012.

While still posting more than respectable numbers—68 receptions, 883 yards and eight touchdowns—Cruz has seen his fair share of double coverage this season, as evident by the fact that he's been targeted by Eli Manning 118 times this year.

Cruz is one of the best—if not the best—slot receivers in football, but having Nicks lined up alongside him makes Cruz that much more dangerous.

For Manning, Nicks is his biggest and most reliable target. At 6'1", Nicks boasts excellent body control and has some of the biggest hands in football that help him make some of the most difficult catches look like a breeze.

For the Giants to survive in what's sure to be a shootout on Sunday, they need Nicks to be healthy.

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Last season against New Orleans, Nicks had seven receptions for 87 yards and drew a lot of attention from the Saints' secondary, leading to Cruz going off for nine receptions, 157 yards and two touchdowns.

With receivers Rueben Randle, Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan still developing, the Giants need a healthy Nicks to make a playoff push similar to last season.

Nicks had an incredible postseason in 2011, hauling in 28 passes for 444 yards and four touchdowns.

Against the Saints' 30th-ranked pass defense, Manning and the Giants are poised for a big day, but they need Nicks to be effective for a win at MetLife stadium.

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