The New York Giants hit the halfway point of the season riding a four-game winning streak and looking every bit capable of defending their Super Bowl crown. Any aura of invincibility, however, was shattered when the Pittsburgh Steelers came to town and erased a 10-point fourth-quarter lead en route to a 24-20 win over New York last week. One loss may not be cause for alarm, even in media-frenzy Gotham, but consecutive listless offensive performances are a legitimate concern for the Giants as they visit the stumbling Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Bengals have major problems of their own after blowing a fourth-quarter lead to Denver last week for their fourth consecutive defeat - and third in a row at home.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Giants -4, O/U 48.5
ABOUT THE GIANTS (6-3): Eli Manning saw his streak of 25 consecutive 200-yard passing games end at Dallas on Oct. 28 and he followed that up by throwing for a season-low 125 yards against the Steelers. Manning also has not thrown a touchdown pass in the past two games, something that hasn't happened since the first four weeks of the 2010 season. Hakeem Nicks, who had one catch for 10 yards against Pittsburgh, experienced swelling in his knee Wednesday but insisted he will be ready to play Sunday. New York's running game has also seen a huge dip in production, averaging 78.3 yards in the last three games - just more than half of the team's total through the first five weeks. RB Ahmad Bradshaw has failed to reach 50 yards in two of his last three.
ABOUT THE BENGALS (3-5): Cincinnati has not won since beating league-worst Jacksonville on Sept. 30. One reason is an increasingly one-dimensional offense due to the failures of the running game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a free-agent signee in the offseason, has yet to rush for 100 yards and has topped out at 69 yards during the four-game losing streak. Andy Dalton has been airing it out with more regularity, which has resulted in seven interceptions during the skid. Second-year wide receiver A.J. Green has caught a touchdown pass in seven consecutive games and is tied for the league lead with eight. He supplied some bulletin-board material Thursday when he said the Giants have "a lot of holes in their defense."
1. Manning needs two touchdown passes to tie Phil Simms for the franchise record with 199.
2. Dalton has thrown at least 42 passes in three of the last four games. Cincinnati is 0-6 over the past two seasons when he has attempted at least 40 passes.
3. The home team has won all eight meetings in the series.
PREDICTION: Giants 24, Bengals 16
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