Osi: Champs lack swagger, confidence

There aren't many explanations as to why the New York Giants have suddenly gone into the tank.

But Osi Umenyiora thinks the defending Super Bowl champions have lost their swagger and confidence.

"The pedigree of this group is very, very good, and for us to be getting beat the way we've been getting beat these last two weeks, obviously there's something lacking," Umenyiora said. "You can't say it's physical talent because we have the ability, but obviously it has to be something, and so the only thing I think you can point to is confidence.

"It just doesn't seem like we're playing with a lot of confidence, and it's showing out there on the football field."

It seems almost unfathomable to think that a defending Super Bowl champion could lack confidence less than a year after winning it all.

But the Giants are clearly lacking a lot of things. Since losing 33-14 in Baltimore, the Giants have almost sounded resigned to the fact that they will not be able to defend their title in the playoffs.

The Giants (8-7) have dropped their past two games to Atlanta and Baltimore by a combined score of 67-14 despite needing to win to control their playoff fate.

Now the Giants have to not only beat Philadelphia -- which likely will start Michael Vick, with Nick Foles out due to a broken hand -- at home on Sunday, but they need Chicago and Minnesota to lose and Dallas to lose or tie for them to get into the playoffs.

"It's perplexing, it's disappointing, it's frustrating, and understand that it is to the players as well," head coach Tom Coughlin said of how a defending champion can have so many veterans fail to step up with so much on the line. "We'd all like to have multiple answers for these things or singular, something that would turn it in the other direction.

"As I looked at the tape this morning," he added, "I will say this: We tried, there was effort, there was no quit."

The Giants say that effort is not the issue and that they have not quit. But their performance has been especially disturbing considering they were once in control of the NFC East and have looked dominant at times this season.

Just two weeks ago, the Giants were coming off scoring 52 points in a win over New Orleans. Now they can barely score or stop anybody. How could a defending Super Bowl champion lose confidence this rapidly?

"Now that question I cannot answer," Umenyiora said. "I'm definitely not lacking confidence. So for us to go out there and play the way we've played and play with that lack of confidence is a little surprising to me, but I just don't have an answer to that."

Eli Manning just hopes to see the Giants finish the season looking more like the team that won it all last season, rather than the one that is fading faster than the sun this time of the year.

"I think we'll be focused and we'll be ready to play," Manning said. "I've got great confidence, from just talking to the offensive guys, we're going to get after it.

"The worst feeling you could have is if all of those teams lose and we don't handle our business and we lose."