Five reasons to be pessimistic

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
1:00
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants are playing for their playoff lives Sunday against the Eagles. Here are five reasons to be pessimistic about their chances:

Injuries: Only two players missed practice entirely Friday, but several key Giants are playing at a very diminished capacity -- particularly wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Also, cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley are both doubtful for Sunday's game, which means Justin Tryon may have to start opposite Corey Webster -- yikes. The Giants have been giving up big passing plays all year long, even when their top cornerbacks are healthy.

Vick: The Giants probably would have preferred to see Nick Foles at quarterback for the Eagles, but he broke his throwing hand last week. Instead Michael Vick will play, for the first time since Nov. 11. He's been a turnover machine this season, but Vick is 3-1 against the Giants as an Eagle, and is likely auditioning for a new contract with a new team. He'll be highly motivated.

Offense/defense: The Giants have been pretty good on special teams this year. But they've been far from special on both offense and defense. They are 14th in the league in total offense -- mediocre -- with 5,290 yards. And they're 30th in the league in total defense -- awful -- having given up 5,817 yards. And they've been outscored 67-14 in the past two weeks. Not good.

Complacency: There's a reason why it's so hard to repeat in the NFL. In fact, the last six Super Bowl champions have not even won a playoff game the following year. Those extra games the year before take a lot out of you, both physically and mentally. And it has to be hard to summon the same level of motivation a season after winning the Super Bowl.

The odds: Even if the Giants beat the Eagles, they still need three other games to go their way. The Packers and Redskins are favored, but the 4-11 Lions will have to upset the Bears. That's asking for a lot.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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