As hard as it might be to believe in the face of a 7-6 record, Giants quarterback Eli Manning is on pace to have the best season of his career -- in terms of personal numbers. As Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger points out, Manning only needs one more touchdown to tie his career high (24) and his yards per attempt (8.0) is up by more than a yard from his previous best.
Of course, none of this matters to Manning or Giants fans. And there's some pretty obvious answers as to why Manning's numbers are so good. Part of it has to do with the fact that the Giants have found themselves trying to make up some pretty large deficits. Over the past two seasons, the Giants could lean on their running game to close out games. Since the 5-0 start to the season, the Giants have been forced to abandon the running game.
So while Manning's numbers may look better than ever, they actually are a disturbing sign. He's at his best when he's able to manage the team and then pull out close games in the fourth quarter with clutch throws. Against the Eagles last week, he was already having to launch the ball in the first quarter because of a 14-0 deficit.
In some cases, numbers can be pretty deceiving. Jon Kitna put up some pretty amazing numbers with the Lions a few years ago, but I don't recall that team showing up in the playoffs. I'm sure Manning would trade five or six of those touchdowns for another win or two.
OK, I'm headed out to visit with former Giants and Cowboys assistant Sean Payton, who also happens to be a daily reader of this blog. I'll check back later this afternoon.