It’s time for a playoff edition of 5 Questions. I went back to ETVal over at Big Blue View and got him to answer these queries.
Blogging The Boys: Eli Manning has put together two very strong games and won his first playoff game. How confident are you that he'll make it three in a row? Are the Giants asking him to do less now and that is actually producing more?
Big Blue View: In my mind, Eli is still a question mark. I feel much better about him after what I saw in the last two weeks, though. I see from those games that it is very possible Eli can be more than an 'average quarterback. I disagree with the assessment that the Giants are asking him to do less. Last week the Bills dared Eli to win that game, and in my mind that's what he did. They took away Brandon Jacobs, so the Giants put the game in Eli's hands and he produced. Only 185 yards, but the Bucs were allowing the short routes and Eli took advantage. There were no forced throws, no bad miscues. The Giants will need a great game from Eli Sunday, and that would go a long way toward erasing any remaining questions about his ability to be a big-time quarterback.
BTB: Open invitation to gloat about your defensive line and the ageless one, Michael Strahan.
BBV: Strahan was marvelous last week (9 tackles, 1 sack, countless pressures). He has been good this year, but I didn't think he still had the ability to be GREAT. He dialed up a great game against the Buccaneers. You know about Osi Umenyiora, but Justin Tuck, splitting time between DE and DT, has also been terrific. Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield are good run-stoppers inside, as well. To me, a key on Sunday will be whether or not the Giants can get to Romo with four, or will they have to bring a heavy blitz package?
BTB: What kind of rotation do you'll think we'll see out of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw? It looked like Bradshaw was the more effective runner against Tampa Bay.
BBV: Jacobs is still the top dog. You guys know what you get from him, and what a beast he is to bring down. Derrick Ward also did a good job for the Giants this year before getting hurt, but Bradshaw gives them a dimension they haven't had. He's a slasher who can make his own hole, and has the burst to run away from people. I still think you'll see more Jacobs than Bradshaw, but who knows? I was stunned last week when the Giants used Bradshaw, who has very few carries on the season, to run out the clock against Tampa Bay. Bradshaw is also a receiving threat, and I'm sure the Giants will want the ball in his hands 15-20 times.
BTB: How about an injury report? Who's in and who's out?
BBV: Well, it looks like center Shaun O'Hara, who missed last week's game, is in. Cornerback Sam Madison, also out last week, is a maybe. Distressingly for the Giants, backup corner Kevin Dockery was on crutches due to a hip injury and seems unlikely to play. So, Corey Webster will have to come up big again for New York.
BTB: What's the Giants gameplan for this Sunday? What will they do differently from the first two games to beat Dallas?
BBV: Damned if I know for sure. One thing I can tell you is I do not think this will be a low-scoring game. The Giants can put a brave face on it and talk about how much their defense has improved -- and it has -- but the Cowboys will still score points. To me, it's can the Giants make 2-3 big defensive plays -- key stops or turnovers. Offensively, can they match Dallas? Can they put up 35 points, or more? To do that, Eli has to be as good or better than he was the last two weeks, rookie tight end Kevin Boss has to abuse Roy Williams the way Jeremy Shockey did earlier in the season and the Giants have to be turnover-free. I'm no fool with blinders on. This is an uphill battle for the Giants, and they will have to be flawless. Seventeen games into their season, the Giants have won 11 times but have yet to play that perfect game from beginning to end. I've been waiting for it, and they will need to come up with it Sunday.