Thursday, December 15, 2005

Law of Averages Catches Up to the Giants

The road to the NFC East title now goes through New Jersey because the Giants eliminated the Eagles from the playoffs last week. The Giants squeeked out a win in a game they should have lost, but good teams win the close ones. Besides, the Eagles were really eliminated weeks ago in the Cowboys game when McNabb was injured. Still, you have to wonder about the Giants chances given that their injury luck has finally run out and that they cannot win on the road where they play two of their last three.

Ex-Redskin Antonio Pierce got a high-ankle sprain in the Eagles game. That injury typically keeps players out four- to six-weeks, or in the Giants case the rest of their season. Pierce is arguably the Giants most important player on defense. Sure, Strahan puts up sack numbers and demonstrates leadership, but Pierce calls all of the plays and was the Giants leading tackler. Pierce should have been the starting middle linebacker in the Pro Bowl last year; how Jeremiah Trotter earned that right when he only started five games is beyond me. Pierce will be sorely missed by Giants fans, especially when Vermeil jams Larry Johnson down the Giants throats on play after play.

In addition to Pierce, the Giants have lost both of their starting offensive tackles and some of their backup lineman are dinged up. The Giants were blessed by a lack of injuries to this point. Now, they are catching up with the rest of the league.

As for their difficulty winning on the road, you need no more proof than the game in Philadelphia. If Akers' 49-yarder bounced forward instead of backward, the Eagles win that game. The fact that the Giants couldn't beat an Eagles team in regulation that was missing Owens, McNabb, and Westbrook--virtually the entire Eagles offense--and Lito Shepherd says a lot about the Giants. That game shouldn't have been close but it follows the pattern the Giants have set since Manning became the starter.

The Giants had angels on their shoulders all season. Hurricane Katrina eliminated 1/8th of the Giants road games where they have proven they cannot win. The deaths of Mara and Tisch, especially Mara, gave them an inordinate amount of emotion in at least one game. The angels kept their players healthy all year. Disaster for everyone else was good news for the Giants--maybe the beings on their shoulders are not angels after all. Who knows, maybe the Chiefs' plane goes down on the way to New Jersey, but I doubt it. The law of averages eventually catches up, and it caught up with the Giants last week.


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