The Giants have shown amazing resilience over the past two seasons. Tell them they can't do something, they go right out and do it. Take away a weapon, or a player, they find a replacement. The Super Bowl champions have not missed a beat even with all the adversity they have been faced with.
But these latest developments may be too great for them to overcome. Yes, the Giants are 11-2, have the NFC East clinched with 3 games remaining and are going to playoffs fo the 4th year in a row. As the regular season winds down, though, the Giants are starting to look more and more like a paper tiger than a team that is on the verge of repeating as champions.
Here is some food for thought....
1) They miss Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan more than they realized.
In the beginning it appeared that life would continue without their fabled bookends. The Giants' devastating pass rush opened up this season with a bang. They recorded 30 sacks in the first seven games, but only have six in the last five games. Their pass rush is beginning to look like the Mets' bullpen at the end of a season...out of gas.
2) All of their mismatches are gone.
The Giants' offense was so difficult to plan for because Plaxico Burress needed to be doubled and your DB's had to ready to tackle Brandon Jacobs should he get past the line of scrimmage.
Teams won't have those problems going forward when they face the Giants now. Burress is finished and Jacobs is on the shelf indefinitely with a knee injury. The pressure is on several backups to pick up the slack, which might be asking too much of them.
The Giants have gone from an offensive juggernaut to a plain, vanilla outfit. Now Domenik Hixon, Plaxico's primary replacement, has an ankle injury and may not play in Dallas.
3) Eli is still too erratic...especially at home.
Troy Aikman and Phil Simms say it over and over and over again. To succeed as a QB in the blustery horror that is called The Meadowlands, a QB MUST throw a tight spiral. Unfortunately for the New York Football Giants, their quarterback—Eli Manning - —has not mastered that skill.
Last week in the wind, I saw paper cups travel through the air better than some his passes. You wanna know why the Giants suck at home? Look no further.....
4) Many of their wins came against teams that were down.
Their 11 wins in 13 games are second best in the NFL, and yes, they did play well in many of those games. But to be fair, they beat Seattle—who is terrible this season; they beat Washington twice—which we now consider to be not such a great feat; they knocked off San Francisco, but that was before Singletary took over and put Hill in at QB; the Rams are barely an NFL team; they needed overtime to beat the hapless Bengals; they took out Dallas who was without Tony Romo.
On the positive side, they beat the Cardinals in Arizona, the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Eagles in Philadelphia and hammered the Ravens at home. But those wins came with a healthy Jacobs and Plaxico's presence.
The hardest part of the schedule is in front of them: in Dallas Sunday night; at home vs the Panthers and on to Minnesota to finish things off. Right now, they can lose all of those games and still get a bye, or they could win one and get a bye; or win two and get a bye and homefield advantage (which is not necessarily a good thing, by the way).
The Giants are in dire need of a week off. Unfortunately, they have to play out the schedule at full strength to make that happen. The best case scenario is that they get a first round bye, win the divsional game at home and then have to travel in the NFC Championship game. That is, unless Eli masters the spiral between now and then....