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The New York Giants continued their march toward a possible Super Bowl repeat with a 37-29 victory over the best the NFC West had to offer Sunday. And the fact they did it without running back Brandon Jacobs and (for the most part) Plaxico Burress only adds to their elite status.
Let's be clear: In the wake of Tennessee's lopsided loss to the Jets, the Giants are unquestionably the best team in the league. Quarterback Eli Manning was 26 of 33 for 240 yards and three touchdowns. He was as efficient as ever on the same field where he earned Super Bowl MVP honors last February.
Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner once again put up big numbers, but he was constantly under duress. Defensive end Justin Tuck now has 11.5 sacks in his past 12 games -- counting the Super Bowl.
Burress aggravated his hamstring early in the game, but his replacement, Domenik Hixon, had a huge game. Hixon finished with 269 all-purpose yards. He was brilliant in the return game and then he made tough catches on third down. It's finally time to admit that the Giants don't really lose a lot when Burress is out. He can certainly help draw a lot of attention, but Hixon is playing with a lot of confidence.
It's good for the Giants to be challenged every month or so. This is a team that shows up every week, and on Sunday it was Manning who guided the team to its 10th win of the season. The Giants began the second half of the season with the toughest schedule in the NFL. But that only seems to make them focus more.
This team is using the regular season as a warm-up for the playoffs. Right now, there's no one in the NFC who belongs on the field with them.