The New York Giants once again have their backs against the wall, and they've once again responded with a bang. In this latest case, the Giants put up 52 points in a 25-point drubbing of the New Orleans Saints. It marks the second time in three weeks and the third time this season that New York has crushed a defending NFC division champion.
That being said, the G-men have lacked consistency, and just because they've come up big in December before doesn't mean it's sure to happen again this time around. The final three weeks will be a challenge, and Washington and Dallas are breathing down this team's neck.
Here's our latest state of the union-style look at the defending Super Bowl champions.
What They Should Be Thinking
We go back on the road now, where we've lost back-to-back games to Cincinnati and Washington, scoring only two touchdowns in those games (and one came in garbage time against the Bengals).
Making matters worse, we play an Atlanta Falcons team that has won 10 straight home games and hasn't lost back-to-back since 2009 (they lost last week). Even if we do somehow survive in Atlanta, we then have to go to Baltimore. The Ravens have been the most dominant home team in the NFL the last few seasons.
Washington and Dallas have their own problems, what with injuries to franchise quarterbacks and superstar wide receivers and similarly tough closing schedules, but we don't have the luxury of slipping up because they outnumber us 2-to-1 and we are not sitting pretty in the divisional tiebreaker department.
Digging deeper, Eli Manning has continued to struggle a bit more than usual. He had two picks against the Saints. And the pass rush got decent pressure against Drew Brees, but it still only recorded a single sack. Our trademarks have to come up bigger than this down the stretch, or we won't be able to make it back to the Super Bowl.
We're built to beat good teams. Proof of that comes from the way we've pounded the three other NFC division champions from 2011 by a combined 75 points this season. The Saints aren't the same this year, but the Packers and 49ers are leading their divisions once again, and we demolished both of them.
So that's the advantage we have the next two weeks. Atlanta is a fresh division champion and Baltimore has pretty much locked up the AFC North. We should rise to the occasion against both of those challengers, because that's what we do.
We're also—knock on wood—unbelievably healthy right now. Like, healthier than we've ever been for a Super Bowl run. And every time we lose someone, someone else emerges to become a key contributor. Stevie Brown for Kenny Phillips and David Wilson for Andre Brown are two prime examples of why we're killing it with the "next man up" approach.
Wilson is another reason to smile. The rookie back/returner was our most dangerous weapon last week and could be a difference-maker through December and January. He's the kind of player that can put us over the top.
We just have to hang on now and get back into the playoff dance. Once we're there, we're confident nobody can take us down...again.
What I'm Thinking
Stock Rising (offense): David Wilson
What do Wilson and Maurice Jones-Drew have in common? They're the only two players in modern NFL history who have scored two rushing touchdowns and a kickoff return touchdown in one game. Not bad for a rookie who was in Tom Coughlin's doghouse throughout the first half of the year.
Stock Rising (defense): Jayron Hosley
This rookie class is looking mighty fine right now thanks to Wilson and Hosley. The first-year corner had his best game yet Sunday, allowing zero catches on four targets against a very good group of receivers.
Stock Dropping (offense): Ahmad Bradshaw
Only 33 yards on 11 carries and another injury, this time to his knee. Bradshaw's real banged up right now, and his replacement had a breakout performance on Sunday. His role will be diminished the rest of the way.
Stock Dropping (defense): Prince Amukamara
Could get on a lot of guys here for failing to make plays up front against the Saints, but Amukamara was beat by Joe Morgan for 62 yards and by Devery Henderson for a first down. It wasn't a terrible performance, but he had set the bar quite high.
Nobody knows if the Giants are going to find magic again late this season and in January. Few of us are crazy enough to predict that they'll win it all for the third time in six years, but none of us are crazy enough to predict that they're destined to fail.
I'm feeling pretty good about the Redskins right now, but the Giants still control their own destiny and this is a healthy, confident and experienced team. They have the makings of a champion, but it's going to be a huge challenge for them to overcome Atlanta and Baltimore to sneak in.
View last week's report here