Who are the Giants' MVPs?

Paul Schwartz: On the offensive side of the ball, there really is only one logical choice. It's Tiki Barber and no one else is really very close. The consistency and high level of play out of this guy is truly remarkable. He never has a bad game any more. No one else on the team can make that claim. Plaxico Burress is close to indispensable but he's had lapses, drops and games where his impact was less than it should be.

Jeremy Shockey isn't the consistent force he needs to be, which is also a function of the up-and-down passing game directed by Eli Manning. As for Eli, he will one day be the most valuable Giant but surely not yet. Just think of where this team would be without Barber. There's no other proven running back on the roster and other than short-yardage and goal-line running, Barber is asked to do everything. That includes pass-protection, an area he's come a long way in improving. Through 12 games, he had 1,233 yards and needed to average slightly more than 71 yards in the last four games to break the team-record of 1,518 yards he set last season, which was thought to be a career year. He's turned 30 and getting better. With Manning scatter-armed against the Cowboys, Tiki carried the load with 30 rushing attempts. I know I never thought he'd grow into an every-down, feature runner who could surpass 1,200 yards in four consecutive seasons but here he is, defying any and every critic. By now, there are no more critics. Bill Parcells called Barber not just a terrific running back but one of the best PLAYERS in the league. That's good enough for me but I have a feeling it's not good enough for the guy who gets his say next.

Ken Palmer: Of course not. I can't and won't dispute that Tiki is indispensable, but the Giants offense struggled last year to a 23rd ranking as Barber set the NFL ablaze with his 1,500-plus yards. The reason this year's Giants offense has been much more dangerous is Burress. Big Plax has changed everything about New York's offense. He's made plays that Giants fans have never seen, and he's opened things up for other members of the offense. You don't think Barber's success has been somewhat aided by the presence of Burress? Opposing defenses know they have one guy in particular they need to stop and it's Burress. And his ability to make circus catches, unlike New York's other receivers, has helped Eli Manning's confidence level as well. While Barber is set to break his own rushing record with help from newcomer Plax, Burress is flirting with establishing all-time Giants receiving highs – in only his first season in New York and initial campaign as a number-one receiver. There's no doubt the Giants offensive MVP is Plax.

PS: Once again you never cease to amaze me with your backdoor logic. I don't get it, you go gaga praising Barber yet label Burress as the most valuable. Whatever. As for defense, I know Osi Umenyiora is all the rage and he should be. He'd be a good choice as most valuable defensive player but not the correct choice. In any year the past decade, Michael Strahan's name could be plugged into this award and you wouldn't be wrong. He's having yet another outstanding season, playing the run and getting after the quarterback and I think he's providing more leadership now than ever before. The main reason for the dramatic upturn in defensive efficiency in my view is the way Antonio Pierce has dominated at middle linebacker. Earlier, he was feeling his way, growing more comfortable with his new teammates and new surroundings. Now that he's acclimated, he's a terror. He can come on the blitz, drop into coverage and Lord knows he terrorizes opposing running backs. Plus, he's so smart he gets everyone positioned correctly. The main reason the Giants are so difficult to run against is that Pierce patrols the middle. He's got a great attitude, cocky but not arrogant, and demands complete excellence from himself and those around him. He's made a huge difference. Being a Penn State guy, Kenny, you should recognize how significant a great linebacker can be.

KP: And you, my ignorant friend, should realize that right defensive end is the biggest impact position on a defense. And there's no doubt that Osi has made the biggest impact on this year's defense. He's finally come into his own, and gives New York a player equally adept at stopping the run and pass – and his pass rush skills are second to none. You can't say too much (even you, oh long-winded one) about how important Umenyiora is to the defense. For weeks now, opposing teams have been game-planning to stop Osi even before Strahan and Pierce. That should tell you something. With all due respect, I'm thinking that an NFL offensive coordinator might know slightly more than you, Paul. That is, unless the topic is bad fashion. This defense wouldn't be anywhere close to the level it is without Osi applying the heat from right end.

PS: Now that we're through singling out the top dogs, let's put some of the unheralded players in the spotlight. Of all the lesser-known players who have made a big contribution I think Kendrick Clancy has been best of all. He's one of the grunts in the middle of the defensive line who do all the dirty work, allowing Pierce to run free to the ball and helping Strahan and Umenyiora get the glory on the outside. Clancy isn't flashy, he doesn't say a whole lot and his numbers rarely reveal his true worth. He's a pro in that he does his job well and moves on to the next game.

KP: Chris Snee is the man here. No one gets less press for his football ability than Snee. Every mention of New York's second-round pick from last year states that he's Tom Coughlin's son-in-law. That's a shame because Snee, right now, is New York's best offensive lineman. He doesn't get any ink because he's really the only one doing his job. You continue to hear about all the other linemen mostly because all they do is hold and jump offsides. Snee? Again, all he does is his job. This guy is headed to a Pro Bowl in the future, as soon as next year. He consistently performs well above expectations and doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves. You know, kind of like the exact opposite of one Paul Schwartz, who's become known for his routine under-whelming performances.

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