On Thanksgiving night, the Giants put forth the kind of effort that made it hard to believe they'd ever have a chance of winning another game for the rest of the season. A mere 10 days later they knocked off the Cowboys by playing well in all phases and set their season back on track. A week after that, the defense and special teams went back to sleep and the Eagles won in the Meadowlands. Finally, the Giants slaughtered the Redskins on Monday night on the road to complete a four-game run that leaves you to one conclusion:
When it comes to the Giants, it's foolish to get too caught up making predictions about next week.
This much we know about the Giants. Eli Manning has taken the step from the ranks of the good quarterbacks to the elite ones. He's capable of carrying the offense on his shoulders, although a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw is quite capable of pitching in when needed. The wide receivers are a deep and talented bunch who provide Manning with a variety of different ways to move the ball every week. The offense, in other words, isn't the problem.
And that's all we know. Everything else is a crapshoot with this team. You can be excited about the pass rush that swamped the Redskins quarterbacks on Monday night, but are you willing to bet it was because of the Giants and not the miserable offensive line of the Redskins? Same goes for the secondary, especially when the Redskins were able to hit some big passing plays down the field on the rare moments that one of their players was willing to stand in front of a Giants defender.
Now, the Panthers aren't coming to town with a particularly hardy offensive line either. Starting tackles Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah are out for the season, which would seem to suggest the Giants can take some advantage. The Vikings haven't had any problems pressuring quarterbacks all season, though, and they couldn't generate enough pass rush to knock Matt Moore off his game. Most troubling for the Giants, the Panthers made a lot of big throws downfield to Steve Smith.
If that name causes a chill, it's not because the Giants cut their Steve Smith. You're likely remembering when the other Steve Smith almost single-handedly knocked the Giants out of the playoffs in the Meadowlands in 2006. That's not the kind of memory any one wants to bring up during the final home game at Giants Stadium, but it's difficult to suggest that such an outcome is impossible based on what happened in Washington last night.