FOX Sports Exclusive
Giants just don't look complete
In one sense, I was really surprised about the Giants losing on Sunday. But once you really think about it, what’s really surprising about it? I can say that about the whole NFC East. Dallas, New York and Philadelphia (particularly early on and now that they're red-hot) have all been up and down. The entire NFC East has been a rollercoaster. One week Dallas stepped to the forefront, then collapsed against the Giants the next.
You would think after beating the Cowboys the way they did, the Giants would come up strong again. When you think about how well Eli Manning played in Dallas — people were saying he was having an MVP-like season. Then he takes a big step back. Week after week, when the onus falls on your shoulders to carry the team, when Eli stumbles, the whole team falls off the tracks.
Something is amiss with the Giants defense. There’s a lot of talent, but they're not all on the same page. They are just too inconsistent and lack of coverage in the secondary. What was lost when the Giants won in Dallas was that Tony Romo lit them up with four touchdowns. In the loss to the Green Bay, I think the Giants came away with a sense that they were pretty good. They said, "We just lost to the best team in football. We took them to the wire and we probably should have won that game. We’re a good football team and we can do this."
Now I come back to some of the comments made by one particular Giant: Antrel Rolle. He said if his team played the Redskins 100 times, they’d lose maybe five times. The Redskins swept them this season. I mean, why even say something like that about a division rival? I just don’t know how anyone on a defense that gives up more than 400 yards routinely, can say something like that. I mean, the Cowboys ad a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver, while Romo passed for four touchdowns against the G-Men.
You almost think the Giants are guilty of putting the cart before the horse. We kind of buy into these teams and believe they are settled in and are going to do this. Then they just falter and now have to run the table and beat the Jets and Cowboys at home. Now, beating the Jets is doable as they are coming off a tough loss to the Eagles. Then you get Dallas — and a team that probably believes they should have beaten the Giants in Week 14. I mean, they were up by 12 points with just minutes remaining.
Now the Eagles, as improbable as it seems, are red-hot and if they run the table and all three of these teams finish 8-8, the Eagles win the tiebreaker. That would be mind boggling, wouldn’t it?
I’d be happy for Andy Reid. I like Tom Coughlin, too, and Jason Garrett. All three of them are good guys. You certainly want to see all of them do well. But a lot is at stake for all three of these coaches.
I'd say the Giants are in the best position because they're playing at home the next two weeks. If they can get by the Jets, they should be OK. The thing to me is that the Cowboys could be in trouble because they got mauled by the Eagles earlier this season. It was 34-7 and it was ugly. Sometimes styles make fights in boxing, and the Eagles aren't a good matchup for the Cowboys and Michael Vick is back and the team is rolling. It doesn't look good for Dallas.
That had to be demoralizing for the Packers at the end of the game. That has to be psychologically tough that they weren’t able to stop the run. But this might be good for Green Bay. The Pack is still in a good position and now has the pressure of perfection off its shoulders.
Green Bay is going to wrap up home field, but you don’t know what the offensive-line situation is going to be. They had two bad injuries on Sunday and have Chicago and Detroit in their final two games.
Chicago has always given them trouble and there is a lot of bad blood from that Thanksgiving Day game with the Lions. The Packers might have problems generating points because their offensive line is just decimated.
If they beat Chicago, then that Detroit game won’t be that important for the Packers.
The team that has to be scary for the Packers right now is New Orleans. The Saints are tough at home in the Superdome and have Atlanta this weekend. Now, this is the game Atlanta geared up for in the offseason when it made that big trade for receiver Julio Jones. The Falcons thought this was their formula for success and that they needed him to go against Green Bay, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Those were the teams they really believed they had to make a move on to be more explosive. Well, this is their final exam coming up. Or, it’s the last test of the semester and the real last test is in the playoffs. They have revamped their personnel for one of those teams and they are hoping they see them in the playoffs.
After five touchdowns in three quarters, Drew Brees must be mentioned in the MVP debate with Aaron Rodgers. The Saints are scary because they are three deep at halfback, their tight end is a game-changer and they must have five quality wide receivers. They are loaded.
To me, the Saints’ offense perfectly complements their opportunistic defense. I think the turning point for their season was that fourth down stop against the Falcons when Atlanta called timeout to go for it. I think that defense turn the corner on the season that night. The thing about the Saints defense is now they're playing well and feeling good about it.
More Stories From Howie Long