We are past the halfway point of the 2010 NFL season and now is the time when the contenders start to separate themselves from the pretenders. Currently the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Giants have the best record in the NFC at 6-2 and both are the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLV. The Falcons haven’t been in this position since the ’98 season, while the Giants have found themselves here in both of the past two seasons. Unfortunately for the Giants, the great starts didn’t lead to playoff success in 2008 and they were out of the playoffs altogether in 2009.
Although New York became the first NFC Wild Card team to win the Super Bowl in the 2007 season, the first positive step to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy is winning your division, then trying to land home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With the NFL’s new scheduling, the second half of the season has teams playing divisional opponents, and for the Giants, five out of their last eight games are against NFC East foes, including the last game against the Redskins in Washington. Can Eli Manning and Co. avoid another second-half debacle? We shall see. It all starts Sunday at home against the 1-7 Cowboys…
Eli Manning joined ESPN Radio NY to talk about whether he believes that the Giants are the best team in football, whether he feels as good about this year’s squad as he did with the Super Bowl-winning team, and how confident he is with their backup offensive lineman.
Whether he thought the game against the Seahawks would be so lopsided:
“No you never think a game would end up like that. Some times that is just what it turns into. We got into a good start, after our first turnover we moved the ball pretty well up and down the field and not too many hiccups. Our defense played outstanding, a lot of 3 and outs, getting the turnovers, everything was going our way and we took advantage of the turnovers. When we got inside the red zone we scored every time and it was just one of those days where we executed really well, had a great game plan and went out and things kind of went the way we hoped would work out the way they did.”
Whether he believes that the Giants are the best team in football:
“Well you know each week things are different. Right we’re playing really well. The last 5 weeks we have been playing strong, offensively and defensively, both sides of the ball are clicking well together and helping each other out. We have been scoring a good many points, the defense has been holding teams to getting turnovers for us and not really giving up too many points… We’re rolling right now, and again, each week that changes. You can’t just say, hey we’re the best team in football right now ‘cause each week you have got to be the best team in football each and every week and so you never know when all of the sudden some of the bounces don’t go your way and you have got to gut things out and just find ways to win. That is kind of the way it is in the NFL.”
Whether he feels as good about this year’s squad as he did with the Super Bowl-winning team:
“Again it is tough. With the Super Bowl winning team, things were going kind of similar right now where to start the season we didn’t start great, we weren’t winning games and a lot of questions and then all of a sudden we rally. We rally around each other, our coach and all of the sudden we start playing with great confidence. Right now we are in the thick of our schedule where it really gets going and we still have only played one game in the NFC East and we haven’t played Philly yet, we haven’t played Washington. We have got to play both teams twice. We have got Dallas again this week. You know people say, well its Dallas, they’re not playing well. They still got talent; they are going to be hyped up. They obviously have a new coaching change and they are trying to resurrect their season a little bit and win some games and we know they have got talent. It is kind of a big mystery why they are not winning games. They’ve got talent all over the field, so we have got to handle business and take care of our job. We have got to each week get better. This week I’ll have things we have got to improve on for our receivers, for our offensive line. Obviously we are going to have some injuries at the offensive line with things going on and so we’ve got to make sure that some young guys and new guys are playing up to speed.”
How confident he is with their backup offensive lineman:
“Yeah we are going to have to have some guys step up. Hopefully we can get O’Hara back as soon as possible but we’re going to have some things going on. I think Kevin Booth should be getting back pretty soon. He has been practicing the last couple of weeks so guys have got some experience… Some guys played some and then obviously we had a big help from Shawn Andrews playing at left tackle this past week. He has been a guy that has been playing some tight end in some situations but we put him at left tackle and moved Seubert to center for this week and it’s probably a good thing we did that where he gets some playing experience and get some live action at playing tackle and playing a full game. He is going to be playing left tackle for us for probably the next few weeks if someone has to step in. Hopefully Diehl will be back but if Mitch Peppers had to step in at guard, but hopefully O’Hara gets back and all you have to do is put Richie back at guard, just kind of one guy at left tackle is replaced and Sean is a guy that has played left tackle, been a Pro Bowler, a good player and he just has to continue to grow and learn how to communicate with those front five.”