Giants bracing for 'six-game season'

Eli Manning plans to completely get away from football for a few days.

Manning will leave town with his family. The quarterback won't throw a football until next Monday. And he says he won't be tempted to open his laptop and take a peek at some film.

"Probably not," Manning repeated twice when asked how much film he will watch this week. "I think it's time where I am going to try to catch up on some rest and sleep and be around my family a little bit and try to take some time off and put it away."

The New York Giants say they need this bye week to recharge and there is certainly no doubting that. The Giants want to get as far away as they can get from the way that they've played over the past five quarters.

Manning and the offense is mired in a slump. The defense has been inconsistent and plagued by poor tackling and big plays. And special teams has had some shaky moments on coverage.

"It's kind of a familiar movie, huh?" an exasperated Justin Tuck asked after watching the Giants sleepwalk through a 31-13 loss to the Bengals on Sunday.

Tom Coughlin's team is on yet another November slide. But the Giants vow that they can turn things around just like they did last season.

But are the Giants playing with fire and thinking that they can just flip the switch on whenever they want to?

"I'm hoping that's not the case," Coughlin said. "I think when you look at the six-game schedule, if you can't get excited about playing this six-game schedule, wow."

If the Giants are going to get to the postseason and defend their title, they will certainly have to earn it. And it's best that they don't wait until the last possible moment to play their best football.

The Giants will have to survive a six-game stretch against the Packers, Redskins, Saints, Falcons, Ravens and Eagles.

The Giants responded like champs last year when their backs were against the wall at 7-7. But can they do the same this season if they are once again forced to the brink?

If they aren't careful, the Giants could see their two-game losing streak balloon into a much bigger mess. When the Giants get back from their bye, they host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who will be looking for payback from last year's playoff loss to the Giants in Lambeau. The Giants will certainly get up for that game since they love playing against teams like the Packers. But they haven't played well at home and they haven't played their best football in over a month.

After that rematch against Green Bay, they'll travel to play the Redskins. The Giants barely survived Robert Griffin III the first time they faced each other and needed a late 77-yard touchdown bomb to beat the Redskins. This time, they'll get RG3 in his house in his Monday Night Football debut.

The following week, the Giants return home to face Drew Brees and the surging Saints. The Saints will be fighting for their playoff lives. Will the Giants' offense be able to put up enough points to keep up with Brees?

The Giants then travel to Atlanta and Baltimore -- two very difficult places to play. They can win at both places but will they be in a position where they will need to win both games on the road? That could be a dicey situation.

Then, they return home for the season finale against the Eagles in a game that could very well determine the NFC East since the Cowboys and Redskins play each other on the same day as well.

Manning is confident the Giants can snap out of their current funk and make a run.

"We've been through stretches before where we haven't been playing our best," Manning said. "But we've been able to bounce out of them."

The Giants will have a chance to get healthier with this break. They hope to get safety Kenny Phillips (knee) and linebacker Jacquian Williams (knee) back from injuries. Also, running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot/neck) and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (foot/knee) will take advantage of the time off to get healthier.

And on Monday, Coughlin and his staff work started on the process of self-improvement. They not only looked at what they do best and what needs fixing but they also will study other teams and see if there is anything they can incorporate into their schemes.

"We call it a worst-to-best," Coughlin said. "We'll look at ourselves, we'll self-scout, then we'll go on to looking at some of the teams that are very good in the league in those particular situations."

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said one area that they will take a close look at is the red zone to see if the Giants can start scoring touchdowns instead of constantly relying on Lawrence Tynes field goals.

"We'll also look to see what other teams are doing that are having more success than we are when we get down there," Gilbride said. "See if we can come up with some ideas to help galvanize [the offense]."

More than anything, the Giants just need to start playing better. Their players need to start winning one-on-one battles. The offensive line needs to play the way it did earlier in the season when Manning was barely touched and Bradshaw and Brown were running through big holes. A third receiver needs to step up as an option for Manning. And the defense has to fix its breakdowns and start tackling better.

"We got a six-game season," Manning said. "It's all going to come down to what happens in those six games. We're in control of our own destiny."