East Rutherford, NJ - Since taking over the starting job for the New York Giants in 2004, Eli Manning has made 82 straight starts for the third-longest streak among active quarterbacks.
While than run is in jeopardy, it's unclear if it will hamper the heavily-favored Giants this week when they finally play another home game Sunday as their top-ranked defense will match up against the hapless Oakland Raiders and their league-worst offense.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Giants -15 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 71% of bets for this game have been placed on the Giants –15 (View NFL bet percentages).
Manning was held out of practice Wednesday so he can get treatment on his plantar fascia, a band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and inserts into the heel.
The former Super Bowl MVP aggravated the injury in last Sunday's 27-16 win at Kansas City and literally had to hop because it so was intense. He's not guaranteeing he will be under center for New York (4-0) this weekend in its first home game since the season opener.
"If I feel like I can go out and play at a high level and help the team and do everything I can do, and they don't have to limit the game plan or say you can't do this or that, I'll go out there and play," Manning said. "I'm not going to do anything that will put myself in harm for making this worse down the road."
Backup David Carr, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft, has 79 career starts, but none since 2006 with Carolina.
Even if Manning is unable to play, the Giants will be expected to improve to 5-0 for the first time since they opened the 1990 season with 10 consecutive wins. They went on to win the second of the franchise's three Super Bowls that season.
While the concern for New York on offense centers around Manning's status, the Giants will enjoy a huge advantage on the other side of the ball. They are allowing a league-low 232.2 yards per game while Oakland (1-3) is producing an average of 208.5 yards and has scored a total of nine points in losing its last two games.
JaMarcus Russell has one touchdown, four interceptions and a league-low 43 completions among quarterbacks who have started four games. His 39.8 completion percentage is the worst in the league, and Oakland hasn't scored a touchdown in its last eight quarters.
Making matters worse, the Raiders learned Monday that leading rusher Darren McFadden will miss two to four weeks after undergoing surgery Tuesday to repair torn cartilage in his knee.
"I think it is a number of things," Oakland coach Tom Cable said. "We have not been able to run the ball with any kind of consistency. We have not been able to throw the ball with any kind of accuracy or anything like that. So we have to improve, really, in all areas offensively. "
The Raiders will also be forced to use a makeshift line with only two starters in their regular spots. Center Chris Morris will move to left guard, and backup center Samson Satele and backup tackle Erik Pears will start against the Giants' feared pass rush.
"It can go two ways. We can go out there and embarrass ourselves or go out there and make a name for ourselves," left tackle Mario Henderson said. "It's a good opportunity for us."
The Giants are coming off a five-sack performance against Kansas City last week in their third straight road game. Defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have combined for 4 1/2 this season.
"We're very superstitious as D-linemen," Tuck said. "We know, we look at it like everyone's in the NFL for a reason. Even though a guy wasn't starting, he might not have played as much as the next guy, there's something about guys when they have something to prove, they have an opportunity that they might not have had beforehand."
Whoever is playing quarterback for New York will no doubt try to target Steve Smith, who leads the league with 34 receptions and 411 receiving yards. Smith could be matched up against Raiders All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
The Giants' running game is also starting to pay dividends, with Brandon Jacobs recording back-to-back 92-yard efforts after a slow start to his year.
"They are a well coached football team and they play tough," Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. "I think that is what you want in an offensive line. They go out and they try to prove that week in and week out. It is definitely a veteran group so we have to be aware of what challenges they present."
This is the first meeting between these teams since Tiki Barber rushed for 203 yards in New York's 30-21 victory at Oakland on Dec. 31, 2005.
Posted: 10/7/09 11:06PM ET