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Silverman: Eli's Pro Bowl Absence Explains Much About Giants' Season

By Steve Silverman
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The Pro Bowl is the most insignificant of all the All-Star games in professional sports.

While getting named to the Pro Bowl can be a huge deal for any up-and-coming player, the game itself is a strange exhibition.

Players, for the most part, are using their acting ability once they play in this game. The top priority is to keep anyone from suffering a major injury. But at the same time, they want it to look like they are playing a real football game.

To the casual observer, they succeed in this endeavor. To anyone with a practiced eye, the game is a sham.

That's why Roger Goodell talked about getting rid of the Pro Bowl. That's not about to happen any time soon. What he was really doing was telling players to make a better show of it.

The Giants have three players who will go to the Pro Bowl in Victor Cruz, Jason Pierre-Paul and Chris Snee.

Cruz wanted to go to game badly and he is fairly deserving. The Salsa King has caught 82 passes for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl for the first time. His ability to make clutch plays along with his ability to put solid numbers on the board means that he earned his first appearance in the game.

Pierre-Paul is an excellent player in the prime of his career. He does not have the production (6.5 sacks) that he did a year ago when he had 16.5 sacks, but every opposing offensive lineman knows that they have to be at their best to stop or slow him down.

Snee is solid and dependable on the offensive line and this is the fourth time the Giants' right guard has been selected to the Pro Bowl. Snee continues to play at a high level despite a hip injury that impacts him every game.

But what's notable for the Giants is that Eli Manning is not going to the Pro Bowl and there can be no argument that he was jobbed, the voting was a sham or an injustice has been done.

The NFC is sending Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Robert Griffin III of the Redskins to Honolulu as its Pro Bowl quarterbacks.

If you wanted to go further, it seems obvious that based on this year's numbers, Tony Romo of the Cowboys and Russell Wilson of the Seahawks would both deserve to go before Manning.

Colin Kaepernick (95.9) of the Niners and Cam Newton (88.0) of the Panthers also have better passer rating numbers than Manning (83.6).

That tells you an awful lot about why the Giants are on the outside looking in as they prepare for their Week 17 game against the Eagles. This game is likely to be their season finale unless circumstances (Bears lose, Vikings lose, Redskins win) break their way.

Oh, yes, and the Giants must also beat the low-flying Birds.

Manning has not had a good second half of the season. He had solid performances against the Packers and the Saints, but in many of their other games, he was just another guy behind center.

He did not perform like a two-time Super Bowl winner in the last two weeks vs. the Falcons and Ravens and he was also quite ordinary in games against in Washington, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

With one game to go in the season, Manning has thrown for nearly 1,200 yards less than he did last season and has eight fewer TD passes.

That's hardly the performance that Tom Coughlin and Giants fans expected.

Manning will get the benefit of the doubt because of the two Super Bowl rings.

However, this performance goes down like your mother-in-law's meat loaf. Nasty and lumpy.

Next year has to be much better.

Is Eli Manning the one to blame for the Giants' woes this season? Share your thoughts below. 

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