I.

Ok, it has been a pretty ridiculous week, but by now, all the bullshit has run its course and we’re left in the same predicament we would have been even if we hadn’t choked away last week’s game: Beat the Cowboys and be in first place, lose to the Cowboys and be in second place.

Now, it has been said from many quarters that the Giants are done if they don’t win this week. That losing four in a row, especially with all the backbiting and bullshit, will devastate a team with such a fragile psyche as the Giants.

I disagree. The fact is, we stand a good chance of making the playoffs even if we lose, if for other reason that that everyone who we’re competing against the NFC really, really sucks.

Now, it’s always tempting to say, “If we don’t win this week, fuck it! There’s no way we’re a playoff team!” But even if we lose this week and then win only two of the next four – in other words, go 2-3 from this point on to finish at 8-8 – there’s still a good enough chance of us being in the top three teams of the following group of seven: Saints, Panthers, Vikings, 49ers, Falcons, Rams, Eagles.

And going 2-3 down the stretch is, like, kind of a worst-case scenario. So as bad as it has been, there’s still a good chance that we’ll be watching this team in a playoff game even if things don’t get appreciably better over these next few weeks.

II.

Plus, we’re still very banged up. Let’s not forget that, and let’s not forget that this swoon is partially attributable to injuries. Nuke’s been good, and Joseph’s been competent, but your defense takes a huge hit when you’re missing two Pro-Bowl defensive ends.

Whitfield’s been better than expected, but he has needed more help in pass-blocking than Petitgout would have, which deprives Eli of a receiver. Plus, he’s not nearly the run-blocker that Luke is.

Madison’s not that good and R.W. has been fine in his place, but Kevin Dockery, who filled in for the starting R.W. in the dime package last week, was horrendous. It’s hard to say that Corey Webster is better than anyone right now, but when you consider Frank Walker… (to be fair, aside from the personal foul penalty, Walker wasn’t all that bad last week.)

We have a bunch of seemingly interchangeable parts at strongside and weakside linebacker (neither Short, Emmons, Torbor, Wilkerson, and Blackburn is that much better than the other guy), but when that group is thinned out, they are especially vulnerable to fatigue in the long, sustained drives that the Titans and Jaguars have put together on us the past couple of weeks. Didn’t our defense look tired? (A thinned-out linebacking corps also means that you have to sign an out-of-shape Chris Claiborne and watch him pick up personal foul calls. Chris Claiborne’s is officially the 2006 Giants’ most depressing player, supplanting 2005 winner Jay Foreman [who, judging by the fact that his place of birth is Eden Prarie, MN, is probably the former Vikings great Chuck Foreman’s son].)

But anyway, we’ve had injuries, and we still do. Yes, we’re getting Osi and Short back tomorrow, but we’re really not out of the woods yet:

–Pierce is probable with a knee injury.

–Emmons (groin) and Gibril (shouler) are questionable (god damn, Emmons! The guy can’t stay on the field!), but both practiced later in the week and should play.

–Madison (hamstring) is questionable, but practiced and should also play.

–Webster is questionable (turf toe). There’s a good chance he won’t play.

Any one of these guys can re-aggravate their injuries, and any one of these guys could be yet another loss that we cannot afford.

The Cowboys, in contrast, have zero players on their injury report. And they’re a good team playing it’s best football of the year.

So if we don’t win tomorrow, I’m not prepared to write the season off. I mean, it obviously depends on how we play. Like, if the offense continues to shit the bed and Romo slices us up, than yes, I will be very, very down on this team and will believe that even if we get our guys back and make the playoffs, we’re really not a serious contender.

But if the offense comes alive a little and we hang with the Cowboys but just don’t get a few bounces? It’s still only one game, and anything can happen, which means that if we get to the playoffs, get a little healthier, and see these guys again… I like our chances just fine.

III.

Ok, it was a pretty embarrassing week in Giants-land. You’ve all read about it and seen Sean Salisbury and Mark Schlereth talking about it, so there’s really no need to rehash everything that went on.

I don’t mean to discount that there are real issues with this team, because there obviously are, but the media feeding frenzy this week was way out of proportion. Consider the Strahan-Plax thing:

It started when Strahan was talking to Joe Benigno on FAN. Now, when players go on the FAN, there’s a real emphasis on appearing forthright and genuine. Like, guys can’t bullshit and sugar-coat their way through the interview like the usually do. So when the subject of Plax came up, I’m sure Strahan felt the need to be kind of honest about it. I mean, everyone saw what happened: It was a disgrace, and Strahan, in his honesty, didn’t say otherwise.

He did, however, make the point that Plax was a “great guy” and a “great player,” and all that, and was basically as nice about it as he could have been while still being honest about the fact that Plax had that lapse and has those lapses.

But the media seized upon it and really made it into something that it wasn’t: Strahan calling Plax out. It really wasn’t like that. I mean, Strahan might have said what he said, but his intention really wasn’t to be a dick and knock Plax over the airwaves. When Peyton Manning said, “We had some problems in protection,” he was intentionally burying his linemen. But Strahan was just kind of acknowledging what all of us knew, and trying to put as happy a face on it as possible.

But yes, the media was all over Strahan about it, and this led to the famous bagel-eating “Say it to my face” episode. Here, Strahan acted like a real dick, as he is wont to do with the media. I still like the guy, and this doesn’t really approach Bobby Bonilla-levels in terms of assholery, but he was clearly in the wrong and acted like a complete schmuck. What he was saying – something about how the G-Men “are men” – didn’t really make sense. The whole thing was pretty weird.

But his intention on that one was clear: He was trying to divert attention away from his comments about Plax and blame the media – sort of, like, an “us against them” thing. Again, it was pretty dickish and stupid and completely backfired, but he wouldn’t have even been in the position of defending his comments if the media hadn’t blown them out of proportion in the first place.

IV.

You know what? Fuck it. Too much has been said about all this bullshit already. We just have to come out and play better. If we do, we’ll have a new lease on the season.

Expect the Giants to come out in their red jerseys. It’s gonna be in the low forties tomorrow and dark before halftime. It’s either gonna be really awesome or really depressing.