Languishing in Big Brother's Shadow: Eli Manning and Giants Lacking and Slacking This Season

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The New York Giants (1-2) are a football team in a serious early-season crisis. Even retired players like Tiki Barber are publicly bashing the team. Coach Tom Coughlin is getting called out on the carpet for not having complete control. Eli Manning is just not performing to his full potential, and the shadow of his big brother's achievements seems too much to bear... especially after getting so heinously steamrolled by the Colts and Peyton (38-14) in week 2.

Week 4 gives the Giants a real chance to rise to the occasion by beating the 3-0 Chicago Bears. The real question is can the Giants walk on water and get the win despite defensive injuries and a lackluster offense led by the mediocre Manning (810 yards, 5 TD, 6 INT, 7 Sacks going into Week 4). To truly turn their season around this team is going to have to rely on the core rushing crew of Ahmad Bradshaw (253 Yards, 2 TD) and Brandon Jacobs (69 Yards). Bradshaw and Jacobs will have to start producing more consistently and running over defenders for bigger, longer, stronger runs to relieve the pressure on Manning to keep making perfect passes. This will restore the threat of the passing game, which the Giants do have the receivers to make the most of. 

Steve Smith needs to end his touchdown drought and keep putting up the big numbers he's used to. He's averaging over 10 yards per catch with 181 yards on 18 grabs. Mario Manningham is having a career year already and needs to keep making sensational catches and take more home for touchdowns. His 238 yards leads the team, but he only has one touchdown to show for it. Hakeem Nicks has 4 touchdowns (80% of all team receiving TDs) on only 13 catches for 169 yards. Kevin Boss' 99 yards is promising, too. This team just needs these superstars to start breaking the plane and putting points on the board. 

Defensively the loss of the 4-sack output of Mathias Kiwanuka might seem to be daunting and disheartening, but this gives a young hungry player a chance to step up and take his place. The next defensive breakout star could be born as a result.

According to an interview posted in "Coughlin's Corner" on Giants.Com, the coach is not overly concerned about the media chatter and knows the team needs more than anything to win right now:

"You can't avoid what people are saying. You have to realize again that the only pressure that's important is the pressure you place upon yourself. Realizing the situation that we're in, there isn't any doubt about it. We need to win a football game," Coughlin said.

The problem the Giants and Coughlin face in Week 4 is this isn't just any football game. This promises to be one of the toughest games of the year against the toughest team in the league, and it comes along just after losing the biggest defensive threat the Giants have.

Added to the pressure is this game will be the only one on in prime time Sunday night. Eli Manning can be the goat or the hero, but either way he and his whole team will be under the white hot spotlight, and they need to really step up to prove they can be contenders this year.  

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