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It's Friday, so Ernie P. is in the house

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Time for our weekly swap of questions with Ernie Palladino, long-time Giants beat writer and current wizard of Giants Beat. Hopefully, you will find this week's installment entertaining. And, don't forget to check my answers over at Ernie's place.

1. Where in the world is Kevin Boss?

Ernie's Answer: Well, I know he's still with the team because I saw him in the locker room Wednesday. But you'd never know it by the way they're using him on offense these days. After coming up with a big effort against Atlanta, he's virtually disappeared. One lateral and one catch against Dallas? C'mon. Personally, I don't see any reason Boss shouldn't be used in a similar fashion as Jason Witten is with Dallas. He may not be as established as Witten or any of the league's other tight ends, but Boss is a heady, smart, and reliable pass catcher. I realize they have to keep him in a lot in max protect, but there's no reason he can't chip a guy and then loop around for a safe, short throw over the middle that he can turn into an eight or 10-yard gain. The skinny post should be a staple for him. Instead, it seems like he's being used as strictly a blocker, a responsibility that should go to Darcy Johnson.

2. Do you believe losing to the Eagles the last three encounters, including the one that eliminated the Giants from the 2008 postseason, will factor into Sunday night's game?

Ernie's Answer: Oh, yeah. The players are saying no, but who really wants to go on a losing streak to a division rival. Besides, these two teams hate each other -- the Giants with their New York swagger and Philadelphia with their smaller-city inferiority complex. It is kind of interesting, though, that this whole series has been one of streaks. The Eagles have beaten the Giants the last three games. The Giants won the three games before that. The Eagles won the two before that, the Giants three before that, the Eagles four before that. Don't quite know what that says about the two teams, except that once they get that taste of beating their Turnpike rivals, it's hard to get it out of their mouths. So, yeah, the Giants are going to want to snap this thing. Besides, if they don't, it's going to make it that much harder getting a playoff spot.

3. Given the state of the secondary, how would you defend DeSean Jackson this time around?

Ernie's Answer: Take Olivia Newton-John's advice. Get physical! Put Terrell Thomas right up on his nose and let Thomas slam him with a forearm every time Jackson tries to get off the line. And it wouldn't hurt to bring a safety in there to bracket him in coverage. The guy is so fast and elusive -- Thomas said he makes himself thin -- that slowing him up at the line is about the only way to contain him. At the same time, play plenty of nickel to try to contain other folks like Jeremy Maclin and TE Brent Celek. It's also something the Giants couldn't accomplish the first time around, and that led to a 54-yard scoring pass off a busted coverage.

4. Now that the Giants have a little space between themselves and the .500 mark, what do they have to do from here to get a playoff spot?

Ernie's Answer: Well, obviously, they have to beat Philadelphia and Carolina to get to 9-7. If they beat the Eagles, they can actually give up that middle game to Washington, providing they get help from the Eagles and Cowboys the rest of the way. Everything would be so much easier if they just swept these divisional games, but you know the Giants. Nothing ever comes easy for this team. So we're looking at some nail-biting no matter how Sunday goes. Realistically, I'm not thinking about a divisional title, even though they have a tiebreaker over Dallas. But they could be in line for the sixth playoff spot. That's why it's so advantageous to have these conference games coming all in a row. They'll need tiebreakers when all this is done, and with 8-4 Green Bay ahead in the conference by a half-game, and 6-6 Atlanta a game back in conference games, it's going to be a tight fit if they all finish even. Whatever the case, the Giants haven't given themselves an easy road to the postseason. But it's doable.

(E-mail Ed at bigblueview@gmail.com)