Part of the reason that "The Social Network" is such an intriguing film is because of the way it lets viewers decide for themselves how to view Mark Zuckerberg.
Is the guy who started Facebook a visionary who understood something about human interaction that had escaped everyone else or did he merely steal ideas and build his empire on the back of other people? The true answer is probably somewhere in the middle, which is the same place we find ourselves when trying to make sense of the Giants after four weeks of the NFL season.
Are they the same team that spent 2009 beating up on weak opposition and then getting stuffed into lockers by the real tough kids in the hallway? Or have they made some fundamental changes in their approach to the game that are coming together to form something better after some early growing pains? Just as Zuckerberg's story defies easy characterizations of hero or villain, these Giants defy easy characterization as serious contenders or mediocre also-rans.
In the contender column goes a defense that finally showed its teeth after a long slumber on Sunday night against the Bears. It was like a tornado consuming everything in its path, beautiful and terrifying all at once, and that aggression was appreciated. There's a lot of talent at the skill positions and, in Eli Manning, a quarterback capable of getting the most out of all of them and, despite the effort to throw him under the bus after three weeks, a coach who knows his way around the block.
The medicore column balances those things out, however. The offensive line has been a mess and doesn't figure to suddenly get better overnight. All that skill on offense is perfectly useless if the team can't stop turning the ball over like they're afraid it is going to give them the clap. And the continuing failure of the special teams mixed with the team's refusal to address the problems calls to mind the way the 2009 season was allowed to unravel because no one was willing to admit there were problems until it was too late.
Football seasons, unlike movies, cannot end in ambiguity. There are absolute answers to the questions we're asking, although you'll need patience to get to the point where they make themselves known. This week against the Texans figures to give some hints because road games against good teams tell you a lot about the quality of your own side, but it won't give the certainty that you're likely to see in the days after the game is played.
A loss is going to send everyone back into their death spiral. The Bears aren't very good and the Giants merely exploited their biggest weakness. A win will mean even more 2007 references -- it's strange the way that's the only year any Giants fans seem to remember -- and further boasting from the team. The reaction to the win would be a bit more justified than the one to the loss but neither one will give us the truth we seek about Big Blue.