Ed Thompson points out NFC stats for all 16 teams you won't easily find elsewhere, including why…
Behind Enemy Lines: Warpath's Questions
Obviously the injuries have hit New York's defensive backfield pretty hard. However, some of the younger, lesser-known players have really stepped up and filled in nicely. The rookie safety tandem of Michael Johnson and Craig Dahl had Donovan McNabb pretty crossed up last week. And young corner Kevin Dockery filled in nicely for top pick Aaron Ross. A very pleasant surprise this season has been the play of veteran Sam Madison.
2) Are you surprised at all by the play of the defense and how well it's doing? Why/why not.
After an awful start, the Giants defense rebounded nicely and has become the go-to unit on this squad. Since its mid-season bye, New York's defense has played very well. It'd be silly to be too surprised by the success of this unit when you consider the Pro Bowl players like Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Antonio Pierce that adorn the starting 11. Reserve DE Justin Tuck and his nine sacks has been as important as anyone this season.
3) Eli's had a couple good fourth quarters in a row. Has he progressed like you thought he would?
Not at all. For as good as Manning plays at times, as a whole his time in New York has been a disappointment. Each time it appears that Manning has turned the proverbial corner, he reverts back to his old self. Poor mechanics, failing to look off his primary receiver and throwing off his back foot continue to plague Manning, as does the fact that his lack of emotion drives fans and, to a lesser extent, teammates crazy.
4) You've seen a lot of Giants teams, why is this group getting it done when other Giants teams might not have? What questions do you still have about this group?
The main difference between this club and last year's version is that this year's team hasn't suffered nearly as many crippling injuries as the 2006 Giants did. For as good as the defense has played, it remains to be seen if they can stop a Dallas or a Green Bay with a playoff game on the line. If the three regular season games against those two teams were any indication, the answer is a resounding ‘no.' And can the offense score when the game is on the line? The offense continues to make things difficult on itself by settling for field goals when in the red zone.
5) What's your take on Sunday's game – who will win?
The Giants will win, but like most of their recent victories, it won't be pretty and it won't be easy. With tough season-ending games left against the hot Bills in Buffalo and absurd Patriots, New York knows it had better take care of business now when it can. A win over the Skins puts Big Blue in the playoffs for the third straight season. They'll get it done. Giants 24, Skins 20.
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