Excerpt: "It’s the wrong time of the year for the Giants to be suffering from an identity crisis, but with two must-win games remaining, the Super Bowl champs still have no idea who they are.
One week they score 52 points, their most since 1986, and beat the Saints by 25. The next week they get shut out for the first time since 1996 and lose by 34 to the Falcons, just 11 months after beating them by 22 in the playoffs.
When they look in the mirror, it’s scary because they don’t know who will be looking back.
If the good Eli shows up Sunday in Baltimore, the Giants will beat the reeling Ravens. But if the bad Eli makes another appearance, the Giants will be crying in their crabcakes on the train ride home. Teams are a reflection of their quarterback, none more than the Giants, and Eli Manning has alternated between elite and ugly and so have the Giants.
As inept as the Giants were in Atlanta, the players received a positive update in their team meeting Monday when Tom Coughlin broke the news that he had been given by a staff member — Coughlin was so incredulous he even questioned it — on the flight home Sunday night. If the Giants beat the Ravens and Eagles in their last two games, they clinch a spot in January with a chance to defend their title.
What did that do for Coughlin’s spirits?
“Hope is the word,” he said. “Hope is a nice word.”
That’s good enough for Manning. He has a history of taking the Giants from a low seed —No. 5 in 2007 and No. 4 last season — and taking them all the way to the Canyon of Heroes.
“If you say at the beginning of the season, hey, you have two games left and you got to win both of them to be in the playoffs, I think you take it,” Manning said. “This is an opportunity you ask for. These are the circumstances you want to be in. Could there be better circumstances? Yeah, sure, there could always be better. There could be much worse. We like our chances. We know what we need to do. It’s right in front of us. We got to go out and win the game this week.”
There’s even a scenario where the Giants can clinch a wild-card spot this week if they win in Baltimore and about half of the NFC loses. But they can also be eliminated from the playoffs if they lose, the Cowboys and Redskins win and the Seahawks win or tie. And of course, they can still win the NFC East." Read more...