Why the Giants will be home for the '05 holidays

Now, we take a look at the top five reasons the Giants won't make the playoffs…

Jeremy hurts again – The player the Giants can least afford to lose is Jeremy Shockey. He's also the one player on the team that plays with a reckless abandon and total disregard for his body. That's not always a good mix. If the Giants are unable to keep their studs, especially Shockey, between the lines on Sundays, it's going to be a long year once again.

Generous in the middle – Although much has been made of William Joseph's meteoric rise to become an NFL-level talent, that's not going to be enough. The position before, during and after camp that is the most troublesome is defensive tackle. Between the likes of Joseph, Kendrick Clancy, Fred Robbins, Damane Duckett and Kenderick Allen, the Giants have a grand total of zero above-average tackles. Having a defense with a soft underbelly is never a good thing.

Manning can't stay afloat – We've said repeatedly that if the Giants lose Eli Manning, or if he struggles, they're in deep trouble. That didn't necessarily have to be the case. Had they landed Doug Flutie or were able to convince Vinny Testaverde to take less money – or even were luckier with Jim Miller's health, they'd be okay. In a pinch, Tim Hasselbeck will get the job done, but you certainly don't want him playing extended periods of time. If Manning struggles or gets injured, the season could go out the window instantly. Yes, that's a lot of pressure on a young man, but he's a Manning.

Tough row to hoe – Sure you take each game week-by-week, but the difference between winning and losing in the NFL is so miniscule, you'd be foolish to discount the Giants' rough road schedule as a non-factor. Four separate trips out west to play strange teams will certainly take its toll. If the Giants are truly a contender, they'll get by the scheduling adversity, but it wouldn't be surprising at all if it takes a little wind out of their sails as the season rolls on.

Butterfingers – Boy, don't the Giants wish they could have signed a punt returner this offseason. They had R.W. McQuarters and Chad Morton dead to rights yet let them get away. They'll never admit it, but they have to be kicking themselves right about now. With the injury to Mark Jones – who's hardly the second coming when healthy – not only are they lacking anyone with any return ability, they don't even have anyone who can consistently catch the ball. If the Giants start coughing the ball up in the return game, it would be wise not to get too close to Mount Coughlin.

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