Just How Good Are the Giants?


It's a question that was asked after they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl and throughout the off-season.  They were wildly inconsistent in '07, starting the year with back-to-back losses, then reeling off six straight wins before finishing an even 4-4.  Only one of their 10 regular season wins came against a playoff team, then they suddenly beat four in a row.

So forgive me for not being impressed with what I saw when we looked at the '08 version of the Giants on paper.  It felt like Eli Manning had only stopped turning the ball over just long enough to allow the defense to take command last January, a defense that lost its two best players to retirement and injury coming into this season.  Now at 7-1, they are considered one of the top two teams in football, and there is even some talk about repeating.

Yet I remain skeptical.

It's only fair to give the Giants credit before I attempt to dismantle them.  For starters, they are the world champions, and there is a certain swagger that comes with that distinction.  They have what is probably the premiere power running game in the NFL, and the defensive line amazingly hasn't missed a beat, the team measuring second in sacks with 30 largely on the strength of the front four.

Alright, they sound pretty good, and actually they are.  The way they've played so far, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see them back in the big game.  Of course, they also have been very fortunate with the schedule up to this point.  The truth is, we don't know how good the '08 Giants are because they haven't been tested much to this point.

They beat Washington in Week 1 before anyone bothered to tell Jason Campbell the preseason was over, then played five against teams with losing records, including some of the worst in the league.  Between blowouts of the Rams and Seahawks, they needed OT to escape the Bengals, and it took all four quarters to put away the 49ers one week after being crushed by the Browns in just their second win of the season.

The last two weeks have been somewhat different, but both were victories over shorthanded clubs.  A 21-14 win over the Steelers was aided after an injury to the long snapper resulted in a safety that led to the game winning score, and last week they trounced a Cowboys team with the ineffective duo of Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger under center.

Finally, I feel like the last person on earth to hop on the Eli Manning bandwagon.  Eli proved himself a leader in the playoffs, and he is off to the best start of his career.  What's been most impressive is only 7 turnovers through eight games after committing 27 last year.  Is this for real though?  He threw 3 INTs in the loss to Cleveland, and he tried his hardest to keep Dallas in it last week with another pick and two fumbles lost.  You can never predict which Eli shows up on Sunday.

This isn't a list of reasons why the Eagles will beat the Giants though.  Wins are wins, and beating the teams they are supposed to is one of the signs of a good team.  This is definitely the toughest opponent either team has faced this season, and the outcome will give us a better sense of who the real Giants are.

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