The New York Giants haven't hit a speed bump: They've hit a freakin' wall.
There's still a decent chance that they will land back in the playoffs, and you'd be crazy to count Tom Coughlin's team out. But this isn't something I believe the 2012 Giants can recover from.
This is a team that seems to lack spirit. They've been outscored 77-14 in their last two games.
They've converted a grand total of five third downs during that stretch. They've possessed the ball only 35 percent of the time. Eli "Super Clutch" Manning has a passer rating of just 59.6 and has completed only 51 percent of his passes. Corey Webster and Jayron Hosley have been beat so badly it's almost comical. The once-feisty defense has zero sacks.
They've simply been one of the worst teams in football this month, with a blowout victory over the New Orleans Saints standing as their only December win and appearing to be an anomaly among all of their loses.
The Giants could wake up next week and make a run in January.
It's happened before. But even when they struggled at times in 2007 and 2011, I never saw this team play so flat and so depressingly uninspired. They look and feel hopeless.
This team has two staples: the pass rush and the passing game. I don't remember the last time they've been this ineffective in both areas. The miserable secondary has been exposed because the pass rush has disappeared. One of the softest defenses in football has just two sacks in its last four games.
Manning entered 2012 as the league's most overrated quarterback, and now his inability to compensate for the failures of his teammates is something he deserves to be highly criticized for. He's not consistent enough.
He never has been.
And while Manning could turn things around as he did in '07 and '11, the odds are stacked against this team because of the fact that the problem isn't on one guy or even one unit. For the Giants to fix what ails them right now, they need Manning to wake up, but they also need Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck to re-emerge. And they need the run defense to actually make some stops. And they need the pass defense to actually cover some receivers. And they need Ahmad Bradshaw to get healthy and start producing. And they need more from top defensive threat Jason Pierre-Paul.
This is a mediocre team at best.
That's been the case ever since they were outplayed by the Washington Redskins back in Week 7. They haven't looked like that team that had a near-flawless performance in San Francisco one week prior to that. Not even close. They've outplayed only two of their nine opponents since then.
There's a reason why 12 of the last 13 Super Bowl champions have failed to get back to the game. I've been wrong before, but I'm fairly confident that it will become 13 of 14 in 2012.