Paul Schwartz: It won't be long before Kenny and I are boarding flights for an overseas voyage to merry old England, a spot the NFL for some reason decided would be the ideal location for the Giants-Dolphins game originally scheduled for Miami. Is this a good idea? Well, if this was about football it would be a wonderful way to expose a European culture to an NFL regular-season contest. However, this to me smacks of spreading the NFL brand, which is all about merchandizing and marketing and selling jerseys and stuff like that. Gee, how enlightening. Don't forget, the Dolphins fans back home in South Florida get robbed of a home game but, given the lousiness of their team, this might be a blessing in disguise. The Giants won't arrive in London until early Friday morning and won't exactly take in many of the sights or get to play tourist. After all, this is a real game and nothing more than a business trip on foreign soil. I have a feeling there will be a whole lot of Giants fans among the 95,000 or so crammed into Wembley Stadium and it will be interesting to hear just how into this game the locals actually are. What is surely not going to be interesting is seeing Kenny enter and take up residence in the many pubs and taverns that England has to offer. Remember, you don't need to imbibe in every local brewery or sample every single pint of ale.
Ken Palmer: And why not? My good buddy Chris McWilliams shared an ale tale about the first time he was in London years and years ago. After downing ale after ale, he got up and – lo and behold – the floor had moved. He went down in a heap and all the locals knew he was a Yankee. With that warning at my side, I'll be sampling all the local ales for sure. The Giants? Like you said, they're going to London on business. Heck, they're only leaving a day earlier for this game than they would a West Coast contest. To a man, including Coach Tom Coughlin, they've all done a good job of not bashing this charade to the media, but do you really think these guys want to go all that way to play? Especially when it's costing them the best road game of the year, in Miami? Of course not. Believe you me, if any of these guys were interested in seeing London, they can certainly afford it on their own. Plain and simple, this game is good for the NFL and the NFL only. And maybe the Dolphins as well. Surely some of their fans have been hoping they'd at least leave the state, if not the entire country. While London is a wonderfully historic city and, having never been, I'm certainly looking forward to the trip, this is yet another example of the league putting its own interests ahead of the players and fans. You know, kind of like waiting until two weeks before games to decide when they're actually going to start?
PS: It sounds like you're well on your way to planning a memorable stay across the Atlantic. Just make sure you return home without creating any international incidents. Once we're back, the bye week will be upon us and that will be a good time to take note of just where the Giants stand in the NFC. After two weeks, it looked as if they'd be standing in the gutter, looking out at all the playoff contenders rolling on by. Now the Giants clearly are in the mix, considering the NFC is a lot like our beloved National League in baseball, where a team doesn't need to be anything other than just above ordinary to make a run. Despite getting smacked around by the Patriots, the Cowboys remain the class of the conference and if they don't win the NFC East an investigation is in order. There's no reason why the Giants can't finish second and claim a wild card berth. The Redskins can pose problems and can lean on a solid defense but I don't see many more than eight wins for them. The Eagles aren't going to make a serious run, in my view, anyway. The schedule gets decidedly tougher for the Giants in the second half of the season but, as long as they stay healthy, they should be able to compete with anything the NFC throws at them.
KP: Exactly. And that's precisely why it'd be foolish to rule out the Giants making a run at the NFC East title. Heck, they almost beat Dallas on opening night while playing their worst game of the season. The Cowboys are no shoo-in at all to win this division. The Giants certainly aren't great at this point, but neither are the Boys. And the Packers? Sure, a revitalized Brett Favre has them playing pretty well these days. But is anyone really afraid of them? Of course not. As for the rest of the NFC, who else is there to worry about? Not much, to be exact. While everyone's already jumped off and on the Giants bandwagon several times this season, the national public's take on the Redskins has been really amusing. They were supposed to stink, but won two early games against two lousy clubs in the Dolphins and Eagles. Then all of a sudden they became world-beaters. Please. We all thought they were a joke before the season and chances are, by the end of the year, they'll be exactly what we thought they'd be. Let's see how the Skins hold up next week in New England. Speaking of jokes, can you all really believe that Paul picked the Eagles to win the division?! They're awful. Oh? What? That was me? OK, on to the next topic.
PS: Nice try, Kenny. Anyway, the winning streak certainly changed my view of the Giants but that doesn't mean there aren't any concerns. I'm still wary of the coverage ability of safeties Gibril Wilson and James Butler, who don't exactly put huge licks on anyone, do they? I'm also waiting for that big moment in a close game when Lawrence Tynes is called on to make the kick to determine the outcome. Can the entire field goal operation, from snap to hold to kick, go off as scheduled? That remains to be seen. Whenever NFL highlights are shown during the weekend, you see kicker after kicker nailing field goals longer than 45 yards to provide the winning points. That situation has yet to present itself to the Giants and I'm not confident they can handle it. While we're on the special teams, I'm also waiting for the game when an opponent busts a huge return to cost the Giants a victory. Unless they tighten things up, especially in kickoff coverage, it's bound to happen, sooner or later.
KP: No doubt, there's room for improvement in Giants Land. They'd be the first to admit that. But you want to know my biggest concern? All you have to do is look back to last season to see how injuries ripped a 6-2 team to shreds. So far they've been able to get by without any major injuries. Yeah, losing Brandon Jacobs and third receiver Steve Smith for a month was no picnic, but they do have pretty good depth at both of those spots. But this club can ill afford to lose an Amani Toomer or Michael Strahan for an extended period like they did last season. There's obviously no way to prevent injuries in such a physical game, but it seems like the Giants have suffered more than their fair share in the past few years. Perhaps it's time they'll get a break and be able to finish the year off basically injury-free. If so, look out NFC, because if fully healthy, they're as good as anyone.
So, What's this London Trip Really About?
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