Youngster no more.
The old vet must be the Mann from here on out.
New York Giants: Unfairly, or not, Big Blue needs Eli Manning to be elite down the stretch.
The Fates are looking over the Giants. I mean ... what more could Jerry Reese's broken pieces ask for?
Thanksgiving Day effectively eliminated the Cowboys from any meaningful conversation, and put the Eagles dysfunction on full display for the nation to see. The Giants now get an opportunity to act on their own behalf by putting their last remaining division rival to pasture once and for all.
Yes Virginia, as improbable as it may seem, the stage is set for Big Blue taking one small step forward in the standings, and a Giant leap towards capturing an NFC East division flag by Christmas.
It's theirs for as long as they step up, keep their wits about them, execute, and take it. But, as we've seen numerous times this season, particularly in the final minutes of games, that's been a task easier said than done.
Defensively, the Redskins have allowed 370 yards per game, while the Giants have surrendered 420 yards per game (2nd most in the NFL). Yet, both average 25.3 points allowed per game, placing each in the bottom third of the league.
Offensively, the Giants average 27.3 points per game, while the Hogs have posted an average of 22.1 points per.
But let us not forget what Kirk Cousins did to the Giants secondary in Week Three. Yes, he threw a pair of interceptions, but was also 30/49 for 316 yards, and a touchdown. Washington outscored the Giants 15-14 in the 4th quarter, in what ultimately ended up being a 32-21 Giants victory.
The return of Coach Spagnuolo means the Giants once again rank among league leaders in takeaways. In fact, the Giants rank second.
There's your game.
Washington runs the ball as atrociously as the Giants do. Both team's running games are ranked 7th and 8th worst, respectively. So, the Giants better make sure they take away what little running game the Redskins possess, thereby putting Kirk Cousins in bad throwing situations. Then it's a matter of Cousins offering the Giants defense opportunities to make big plays.
On the Blue side of the ball, the Giants lack of an effective running game makes the marrow in my bones boil over with frustration. While injuries to the offensive line pose their own issues, this four-headed backfield they employ is nothing more than a mythical creature that needs to be eradicated.
Throughout football, I can not believe such learned minds have let the art of rushing to daylight become the road least traveled. In the Giants case, it's avoidance by design. But I digress...
If throw they must, then throw the damn thing with fury.
Time and again throughout Eli Manning's career, his leadership, and that ridiculous "elite" tag has been brought into question. Unlike his earlier years, he no longer has a top grade offensive line, a punishing running game, nor a top ranked defense that made the Giants a well balanced team.
Today, there's only Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., a scratch-off lottery system of playing opportunities, and a litany of question marks. Yet, many unfairly demand Eli Manning put any lingering questions regarding his leadership beyond the late Autumn shadows of doubt starting Sunday.
Fans want another miracle run from him, but I'd offer his support group is immensely inferior than that of previous Big Blue contenders.
Hakeem Nicks is a nice blast from the past, but hard to gauge his impact on the immediate future before they play the games. There's an old saying - players become available for a reason. Just ask Jon Beason....
My biggest takeaway from today's game will be how Coach McAdoo utilizes Orleans Darkwa.
We'll revisit everything, then.
Here's what I said in my PIGSKIN PICKS:
Giants -2 1/2 (D.C. HOGS)
This is not your father's NFC East of the 1980s, folks. If the Hogs win, they'll tie the Giants for the division lead with sub par 5-6 records. A Giants win, however, would at least somewhat legitimize their standing in a poor bracket. Many would argue the Giants could, and should be 8-3 right now. They had their chances, sure, but as Bill Parcells would say - they are what their record says they are. That said, the Giants should be better than Washington, period. I'd be thankful if they just went out there and seized the day.