Giants need Eli Manning to have a big week

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. (RAY STUBBLEBINE/Reuters)

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. (RAY STUBBLEBINE/Reuters)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:30 PM ET

The importance of trends in football depends on which side of the trend you're on. This week, the New York Giants are fully ready to embrace an inexplicable trend regarding Eli Manning.

For the past four seasons, Manning has followed the Giants' bye week with some powerful performances.

Starting in 2008, in the first games after the bye week, Manning has led the Giants to a 4-0 record, thrown for 1,290 yards (an average of 322.5 per game) and has 10 touchdowns to only one interception.

The Giants, desperately looking for a way to get out of a recent slump, are hoping the trend continues this week against the Green Bay Packers, who have won five in a row. The Giants, once comfortably in the lead at the top of the NFC East, have lost two games in a row. they still hold a slim lead but they need to get untracked.

So does Manning.

He hasn't thrown a TD pass since an October 21 game against the Redskins and, in his past four games has tossed for one TD and six interceptions. Manning isn't putting a lot of trust in the supposed trend.

"It's not a stat that I look at," he told the New York Post.

Manning's stated intent during last week's family vacation to Mississippi was to not think about football. He told the Post he didn't even take his laptop with him. His teammates, though, are more than happy to latch on to anything positive.

"I'm excited about it; I hope he sticks to the trend," Giants receiver Victor Cruz said. "I guess it's just a renewed sense of focus coming out of the bye week. You're a little bit fresher and had some time to get some rest."

And, perhaps, to make a break with the recent past.

"He's excited about playing, I can tell you that," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's looking at this as if it's a start to a new season. That, perhaps, is the way he's approached all games after the bye."

QB LOVE-IN?

The folks in San Francisco are talking "quarterback controversy" but, really, in a town that practically invented the term, they should know better. What's going on with second-year understudy Colin Kaepernik and incumbent Alex Smith is mundane stuff compared to the knock-down, drag-out fight that went on some 20 years ago between Joe Montana and Steve Young, both of whom are probably in the top 10 QBs of all time.

With Montana getting near the end of the line, Young was pushing to take the greybeard's job and it got more than a little bit messy with each giving the other the cold shoulder and talking a bit of trash on the QT.

Kaepernik started in Smith's place last weekend, after Smith was not cleared to return after a concussion. The youngster looked like a 10-year vet, picking apart a very good Chicago defence on the way to a 32-7 beatdown. He went 16-for-23 for 243 yards and two TDs.

Now, even though Smith has been cleared to play, coach Jim Harbaugh has given most of the reps this week to Kaepernik, indicating he would start this week in New Orleans

Controversy? Doesn't much sound like it.

"If you can't be happy for your teammate's success you're playing the wrong sport. Go play tennis or golf or something," Smith said Wednesday. "That's ridiculous, I think. That doesn't belong in team sports, in my opinion. It's the quarterback position. It gets a lot of attention. We're going to get talked about."

Given that Smith was out with a concussion, it would be even more impressive if the Niners held him out of the New Orleans game not because Kaepernik shone but because Smith had a head injury. Isn't that what the new awareness is supposed to be all about?

SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

As if Tom Brady and the New England Patriots don't give the Buffalo Bills trouble enough in head-to-head competition, they're now doing it by remote control by clobbering the Indianapolis Colts 59-24 last week. Guess who has to go into Indianapolis against Andrew Luck and Co., this week?

Da Bills.

Remember last year as the whole world was fawning over Tim Tebow when the Patriots went into Denver and Brady, perhaps as a gentle reminder, strafed them 41-23? We're thinking maybe Brady was counting the column-inches in Luck's press file recently and decided he needed to be taken to the woodshed for a little schooling.

We're thinking the kid is going to be stung by what happened last week and he may just take it out on Buffalo.

MCKELVIN LEARNS TO FLY RIGHT

Did you hear the one about the football star -- actually the special teams player of the week in the NFL -- who refused to turn off his cell phone, or do up his seat belt or put his carry-on in the overhead bin on a Delta Airlines flight?

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority threw the book at Leodis McKelvin of the Bills after he got off a flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Buffalo Tuesday night.

Fined him, big time. It wasn't quite in Ed Reed's league. Reed, of the Ravens was dinged $50,000 for a questionable hit on Emmanuel Sanders Sunday.

But that $75 fine levied against McKelvin had the desired effect.

McKelvin apologized for failing to follow a crew member's order.

"Yeah, you've got to know what you're doing and who you are. You've got to do what you're basically told," McKelvin said. "It was a misunderstanding. I apologized for it, and I'm going to pay the fine, pay my dues for what I did."

McKelvin won the weekly award for special teams play, returning a kick for a touchdown for the Bills in a game against the Dolphins.

A PALE IMITATION

The Cleveland Browns are 2-8 and going nowhere fast but you would think that at least the general pessimism wouldn't extend to their own marketing department. In one of those curious brain-dead promotions, the Browns are going to give white flags to every fan who shows up for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The team name is "Browns" and their uniforms are trimmed with orange but they've chosen a white flag, the universal symbol of surrender, to make their fans feel all warm and gooey about their team.

QUICK KICKS

Despite owning a four-game winning streak, plus the league's fourth-ranked scoring offence and playing against a big-time division rival, the Tampa Bay Bucs failed for the 18th time in the past 21 games to sell enough tickets to have the home TV blackout lifted for their game against New Orleans ... Even though the Giants are coming off a bye week, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, suffering from neck and foot injuries, has not practiced, giving rise to speculation he won't go this week ... Luck and Robert Griffin III get tons of ink and deservedly so but the Seattle-Miami game on Sunday pits the overshadowed, but not outplayed, pairing of Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson. Worth watching


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