What's Up With Eli? Are Back-To-Back Sub-Par Games Cause For Alarm?

Eli Manning of the New York Giants looks to throw a pass against the New York Jets during the first quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium on December 24, 2011 in East Rutherford. New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has had a wonderful season and might get his second Pro Bowl nomination when those teams are announced by the NFL on Tuesday night.

I have to ask, though, Giants fans. Coming off arguably his worst two games of the season are you at all worried about Manning as the Giants prepare for Sunday's win-or-go-home season finale at MetLife Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys?

The New York Times broached this subject on Christmas Day, and it is worth discussion. Here is part of what the Times wrote:

A hiccup from the offense was not what the Giants wanted heading into such a meaningful regular-season finale. The quarterback matchup is always crucial, and Romo, who threw four touchdown passes against the Giants on Dec. 11, is expected to play despite hitting his throwing hand on a helmet in the Cowboys' loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.

The past two weeks have been a challenge for him. Late Saturday, Manning described the approach of the Giants' offense against the Jets as "play smart" and "hopefully our defense can play outstanding."

Against the Jets, it worked. Against Romo and the Cowboys, that may not be enough. With their season on the line, the Giants will need the old Manning - the one who pushed them through the fourth quarter at Dallas two weeks ago.

Manning's last two games have not been pretty. A nine-for-27 effort against the Jets, though you can factor in the play of Darrelle Revis and the absence of Jake Ballard and Mario Manningham, and a three-interception effort against Washington.

Manning is completing 60.3 percent of his passes on the season and has a career high in yards (4,587). Manning though, has completed more than 57.5 percent of his passes just once in the last six games, the Monday night debacle against New Orleans during which he went 33-of-47 for 406 yards. He had tremendous yardage against Green Bay (347) and Dallas (400), but not the consistency that marked the first half of the season.

Is that partially on his receivers? Probably. Could he be wearing down a bit after a season during which he largely had to carry the Giants? Possibly. Could the last two games just be a blip in what has been an incredible season for Manning? Maybe.

Whatever the answer, and I don't know if the struggles of the past two games are meaningful or not, the Giants will need Manning's 'A' game on Sunday if they are going to shoot down the Cowboys and go to the playoffs for the first time in three years.

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