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More from Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports

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Yesterday I posted thoughts about Eli Manning from Yahoo! Sports football columnist Jason Cole. We talked about many more things, so today let's delve into some of the other things Jason and I discussed.

Here is Cole's top four in the NFC.

  1. Giants
  2. Philadelphia
  3. Arizona
  4. Minnesota

The big question with the Giants, of course, is the wide receiver situation. Cole did not downplay the significance of the issue.

"It is a big deal. Quarterbacks don't like to throw to guys they don't trust," Cole said. "Steve Smith is a good receiver on third downs, but he's no threat."

Still, Cole sees the Giants as a serious contender in the NFC.

"The Giants will do enough with their defense early in the season, and then if they can somehow figure out the wide receiver situation ... if (Hakeem) Nicks can become a player or Manning learns how to distribute the ball and learns how to trust Manningham and Hixon then there's a possibility that they jump ahead.

"Maybe early in the season the Giants are gonna struggle to score points, but their defense will keep them in games. Their number two line would be better than a lot of other defensive lines around the league."

As fans, we will spend a lot of energy watching the Eagles and worrying about whether or not the Giants will win the NFC East title. To Cole, that is not the most important thing. That would be how well a team is playing once it gets to the playoffs.

"What matters more is are you playing effective football at the end of the season vs. the beginning. For the first 12 games of the (2008) season the Giants were pretty much the ruler of the roost. Then Jacobs gets banged up and they lose their best receiver and all of a sudden their offense is not close to being what it was.

"That's how much one or two players make the difference in the NFL now.

"Are you on the upswing at the end of the season or are you on the downswing? That one is hard to figure out because injuries make such a huge difference."

Cole did say he likes the way the Giants are constructed more than any of the other NFC contenders.

"I think the Giants are built the best because they are the strongest up front.The front seven is the best."

Since we were talking about the NFC I could not let Cole go without talking about that new quarterback in Minnesota. Cole did not have complimentary things to say about Brett Favre. I asked him initially if he thought Favre, who faded down the stretch for the New York Jets last season, could still play effectively for a full season.

"When is the last time he was an effective quarterback at the end of the season?" was Cole's response. "Last season you saw it -- the last five games he was not good."

At this point, Cole was just warming to the task of shredding 'ole No. 4.

"He played very, very well during the 2007 season but in the end, when it was all to be decided, he threw two interceptions in the second half of that game against the Giants that are just God-awful throws. Especially the one in overtime is a throw that no quarterback beyond his second year in the league should make. Sorry, that's a horrendous throw. It was not a great defensive play by the Giants, the ball was just tossed up for grabs."

"He hasn't had a lot of playoff success lately. I don't know what he has left at the end of the season."

By now, Cole was on a roll and I was just listening.

"I understand (Minnesota coach) Brad Childress would rather bet on him than bet on Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson," Cole said. "I get that, but he's put his team on this high-wire act. If Favre slips at all it's not just a fall back a little bit and let's rally around the guy. They're all gonna be looking at Childress going 'hey, why did you do this -- why did we bring this guy in if he can't make the plays anymore?'

"He puts the psyche of the team on a precipice. That makes for an all-or-nothing kind of season."