NO PLAXICO, NO SUPER BOWL?

                               Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

    

Well, the Giants are at the toughest part of the season where they might very well miss Plaxico Burress the most.  They’re stuck playing the tough Philadelphia Eagles and that’s a bad thing for them (Tom Coughlin would never say it, but do you think that the Giants would prefer to have played the Cardinals?  You betcha).

    

As you probably know, the Giants split the two games with the Eagles, each team winning on the road.  In the first game, Brandon Jacobs had 22 rushes for 126 yards and two TDs and Burress had a TD catch.  In the second game, Brian Westbrook, with 33 carries, eventually broke through the Giants defense with a couple of big plays.  Jacobs came out midway through the third quarter with an aggravated knee injury and just had 10 carries for 52 yards and no TDs.  Burress, of course, had self-destructed eight days earlier.

    

The Giants can’t win the Super Bowl without Burress AND Jacobs.  But, with a bye week, the Giants (and Jacobs) will be healthier.  But will they be rusty?

     

Don’t forget, when the Eagles did beat the Giants, the Giants were 11-1 and cruising to the division and the playoffs.  And while you don’t want to lose three of four going into the playoffs (as the Giants have), the Eagles have been on life support for what seems like the second half of the season.  They needed that win at the Meadowlands on 12/7 much more than the Giants did.  You could even make the case that the Eagles are this year’s version of last year’s Giants.  The question is:  Will the Giants be playing the role of last year’s 13-3 Cowboys?

    

With the Eagles defensive genius, Jimmy Johnson, already scheming for next weekend, the Giants will have their work cut out for them.  What they lose with Burress is that guy who can outleap all the DBs to pull down a fade in the end zone.  Or, when Eli’s in a lot of trouble (and you know that he will be on a number of plays), he can’t throw it up for grabs and let Burress make a play.  That’s, potentially, very problematic for the Giants.  And, potentially, game-losing.

    

Everybody now understands that taking Burress out of the game means no guaranteed double-team on virtually every play by the Eagles defense.  Instead, they will bring another man into the box which will take away from the Giants dominant running game.  That, more than anything else, will be the key to the game.

    

On the other side of the ball, it will be mostly about Brian Westbrook.  He hurt the Giants badly in the second game, getting over 200 all-purpose yards and leaving all Giant fans with that view of Antonio Pierce haplessly chasing after him for that big touchdown.  While you can’t totally blame Pierce (how many linebackers really can cover Westbrook?), the point is the Eagles will pound away and then try and find a way to get that mismatch again.

    

While the Giants were (obviously) in a much bigger hole last season and pulled off a miracle post-season, this year they have a very difficult path playing one team (the Eagles) that beat them at the Meadowlands, another (Carolina, presuming that they both win) that was a 50-yard field goal away from beating them at the Meadowlands and a very tough AFC team waiting near the end of the rainbow.

    

The Giants’ road would be tough even with Plaxico Burress.  Without him, it’s much tougher.  While the Giant organization tried to do the right thing here (although some still say Burress should be playing under the he’s-innocent-until-proven-guilty theory, certainly a good argument from a legal perspective), you know they left their best chance to win the Super Bowl on the sidelines (or in a club) a few weeks ago.  Now the question becomes, can they actually do it now without Burress?  We’ll see what happens. 

    

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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