NFL Czar: "Giant" matchup in the Deep South

As the playoff races heat up, there are about four spots in the NFC that are completely up for grabs. The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers will get in, but after that, who knows? The Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions and possibly even the Philadelphia Eagles will be in the hunt for the remaining spots, so every game at this point becomes even more important.

With this much craziness likely to occur over the last month and a half, the week 12 matchup between the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints looms as an extremely important game. The Giants are in the brutal part of their schedule, trying to keep up with the rest of the pack and hang on to their NFC East Division lead. The Saints are in the same position, trying to keep ahead of the Atlanta Falcons.

Key Matchups
1. Eli Manning vs. Elite Quarterback Status: Is Eli elite? His Super Bowl ring and borderline MVP season this year say YES. His constant inconsistency prior to this year would lean me towards NO. Which Eli shows up for this one? He needs his main weapons (Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks) back healthy and ready to go to continue dominating.

2. Drew Brees vs. Giants' Pass Rush: The Giants (as I have noted several times this year) rush the passer better than almost everyone in the NFL. On the other hand, Brees gets the ball out faster than almost everyone. Brees will have to be on top of his game, but will have his home crowd behind him.

3. New England vs. Philadelphia: By the way, this game should be pretty good too. The Pats got it figured out a couple weeks ago, while the Eagles have struggled to find any consistency. It will be interesting to see if they can get anywhere close to a playoff spot.

The Rundown
Back to business. This game looks to me like it will be a shootout between two highly effective offences. However, if the aforementioned Nicks and Bradshaw don't play, it may be a Saints rout. I'll say they play, and keep it close. However, I'll take the Saints at home, 42-31.

For next week, the Falcons take their talents to Reliant Stadium to take on the AFC South leading Houston Texans.