Happy Travels for Big Blue?

Ken Palmer and Paul Schwartz discuss the Giants, the trip to London, the bye week and the next game.

Paul Schwartz: So I see Kenny Palmer over in London and he's excited about telling me his activities that day. What, did he catch the changing of the guard outside Buckingham Palace? Did he hear the gongs of Big Ben or take a cruise along the Thames River? Did Kenny take in the Imperial War Museum or dine in some authentic English pub? No, Kenny was all pumped up because he found a sports bar where he could watch the Penn State-Ohio State game. Now THAT'S soaking in some culture! College football and a brew. He had to travel 3,500 miles for that? Whatever. The trip was worthwhile for the Giants and not only because they escaped the slop of Wembley Stadium and barely beat the dreadful Dolphins. Afterward, Shaun O'Hara said he has never played in a Super Bowl but he figured the four-day excursion contained some of the same distractions and experiences and he's right. The Giants were forced out of their element and had to deal with plenty of non-football issues before finally playing the game. They handled it well and if the night was dry and the field intact the score would not have been nearly as close. Down the stretch of the season, the Giants will be able to think back on how they dealt with their trip to England and the memories should prove to be beneficial.

Ken Palmer: As a matter of fact, my friend, your boy visited all the major places to be seen in London, not to mention all the famous pubs as well. As yes, considering you could barely stay awake at 10 a.m. the day after the game, I can't imagine you were staying out till 3 a.m. on a nightly basis and really taking in all that London had to offer. And while we're on a quick non-Giants rant, I'd like to congratulate Curt Schilling and Terry Francona for another World Series title and also poke fun at you and my favorite Mail Call writer James Kochie and once again gloat over the Mets' epic collapse at the hands of the Fightin' Phils. There, now I feel much better. As for how the London trip will help or hurt the Giants in the future, I'm really not buying into the whole ‘it'll pay off down the road' theory. The adversity New York needs to avoid is the injury plague that has cut them off at the knees several times this decade. For as much as it was tough for the Giants in London, it was equally tough for Miami. If the Giants somehow make it to the Super Bowl, believe it or not, Paul, but there will also be distractions for their opponent. All that sideshow nonsense is just that – nonsense. The healthier, more disciplined and more talented team almost always wins. That's what happened in London and that's exactly what will happen the next time New York plays a game amidst a media circus while dealing with adverse traveling situations.

PS: It is perfect symmetry that the Giants have their bye week at midseason. What better time to assess where they've been and where they're headed? Sure I'm surprised they are 6-2 at the break. I figured the Giants for about eight wins all season so much of what they've done caught me off-guard. I'm not really shocked that Brandon Jacobs has successfully replaced Tiki Barber, I'm not stunned the offensive line is so solid or that Osi Umenyiora is having a breakout season. Strangely enough, I expected more from Eli Manning. Sure, he's the quarterback of a team on a six-game winning streak and that means a great deal. Sure, it's easy to get captivated by some of his numbers and exploits but it just seems as if he should be even further along. He's on pace for 26 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions, which is not a ratio the Giants need out of him. Doesn't it seem as if there's always one massive mistake per game? As a commander of the offense and a level-headed leader there's nothing to complain about in Manning and there's no doubt he's as confident as he's ever been. Maybe we should just forget about that 60 percent completion goal because no matter what he does, he hovers around 58 percent and cannot rise above that. It's a credit to the team around him that the Giants had such a strong surge without huge exploits from Manning. There's more there waiting to be untapped.

KP: The most impressive thing has been the play of New York's defense. No one thought they were as bad as they looked when they were blistered for 80 points during the season's first two games – and losses. But no one in their right mind ever could have figured that they'd rebound as quickly – and decisively – as they did during the next six games. Say what you will, but you can chalk up most of the six-game winning streak to the superb play of the defense. If the Giants are to make anything of themselves during the second half of the season, it's going to be because Spags' band of defenders is going to continue playing at such a high level. Especially impressive among the defensive standouts has been the play of Kawika Mitchell, Mathias Kiwanuka, Justin Tuck and Sam Madison. Everyone knew what Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Antonio Pierce could do. It's the members of the supporting cast that have really aided the cause. By the way, the offensive line has been superb as well.

PS: I cannot get out of my head the memory of Tony Romo tossing passes to wide open Jason Witten. Perhaps that's my problem and it certainly doesn't mean the Giants can't do a much better job with their pass defense in the rematch. The one troubling ingredient to this game is that the Giants through no fault of their own might be lulled into a false sense of security after beating up on so much slop the past month. Cleo Lemon. Trent Dilfer. Joey Harrington. A rag-armed Chad Pennington. The step-up from the dregs of the quarterback world to Romo is dramatic. Not that Romo is Brady or Peyton but he is darn good and dealing with him is a completely different challenge. This will be a supreme test to see just how new and improved the Steve Spagnuolo defense is, as the Cowboys have a multi-dimensional attack. Until proven otherwise, I'm going to figure that this is going to be exceeding difficult game for the Giants.

KP: Way to go out on your usual limb, buddy. Facing off against a Dallas team that's already beaten them and is currently the class of the NFC is going to be difficult? Wow, that's really insightful. Take a stand, brother. Are the Giants going to continue their hot streak and take a big step toward winning the NFC East? Or is the joyride going to come crashing down in East Rutherford in front of the home faithful? It says here that the joyride is going to keep on keeping on. The Giants played as poorly as they possibly could have and still almost beat the Cowboys in Dallas opening night. That was when they were still trying to figure out Spagnuolo's new defense. Now, it's quite clear the Giants defense has enough guns and is firing strongly enough to slow down Romo. It'd be tough to think that they'd be able to totally shut him down. But it sure seems like a good enough defensive effort, which will in turn give the offense a chance to win the game, is going to unfold here. There, was that so hard? The Giants win, 27-23.

PS: You want me to take a stand? Here goes. Cowboys 27, Giants 24.


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