Behind Enemy Lines - New York Giants

Eight questions for TGI editor Ken Palmer from Patriots editor Jon Scott…

1) How much of a distraction has the Michael Strahan situation been for the Giants?

Not really much of one at all. While all the players would be thrilled to have him back from a talent standpoint, his act has started to wear thin in New York. That goes for everyone but Osi Umenyiora, whose Pro Bowl future depends on Strahan's return.

2) How has Eli Manning looked in camp, and does he appear to be "getting it" now?

Eli has looked as good as we've ever seen him. He started camp slowly but got better as time went along. His play during the first three preseason games has been superb and the Giants loved how he stood up to Tiki Barber's criticism.

3) Do the Giants have a backup plan if Manning regresses?

Not really. They really like backup Jared Lorenzen aka The Hefty Lefty but they don't have confidence in him to run the ship for an extended period of time. If Manning flops, which seems highly unlikely at this point, it'll be time to look to the draft. By the way, most people don't realize that Manning has thrown 48 TD passes and surpassed 7,000 yards the last two seasons.

4) It seems that head coach Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat. What does he need to do to get off it if he is?

He's definitely on the hot seat and really nothing short of a playoff season will save his job. He technically is under contract for 2008 but the Giants will not let him coach in his final season. It's either extension or walking papers after this season.

5) Mathias Kiwanuka looks to be a rising star in the Giants defense. Is he the best defender after Strahan, or are there other players in that mix? What is expected out of Kiwanuka this season?

Actually Kiwanuka has struggled, as expected, to pick up the linebacker position. The leader of this defense is MLB Antonio Pierce, who made his first Pro Bowl last season. The front seven is pretty good, the back four not so much.

6) What do you think are the most important things the Giants can get out of Thursday night's game against the Patriots?

Staying healthy. New York's Pro Bowl TE Jeremy Shockey was injured against New England in last preseason's finale and wasn't the same during the season's first month. The Giants have been notorious for getting players injured during the last preseason game, including starting running back Gary Brown in the late ‘90s.

7) Your prediction for New York's season?

They'll be in playoff contention all season but fall short with an 8-8 record.

8) Name the top 3 teams in the NFL.

New England, Baltimore, San Diego.

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