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Eli in Seattle back in 2006.

this week's game

The Giants, 5-2 As Usual, Travel to Seattle

In his seven seasons as coach of the Giants, Tom Coughlin has guided his team to six starts of exactly 5-2. (The one team that didn't start exactly 5-2? The 2008 squad that began the season 11-1.) Of course, the second halves of those seasons — the Times takes a year-by-year look here — have varied quite a bit: In one of them, they lost the next eight games and missed the playoffs. (That was 2004, when Eli Manning would take over for Kurt Warner when the record reached 5-4.) In another, they won the Super Bowl. Last year, they won just three of their last nine games. All of which is a long-winded way of saying that recent history tells us just about anything's possible from here on out.

The Giants defense won't have the chance to knock Seattle's regular first-string quarterback out of the game this Sunday: Matt Hasselbeck won't play because of a concussion suffered last week against Oakland. In his place, the Seahawks will start Charlie Whitehurst, a man at least one Giants player had never even heard of. The offense, meanwhile, will have to deal with the deafening Qwest Field crowd: In their two games in the stadium — games that took place in 2005 and 2006 — the Giants have been called for a total of fourteen false-start penalties.

Prior to the bye — and Tom Coughlin's New York teams are 3-3 after the bye to date — the Giants put up 31 straight points against Dallas, but turned the ball over five times. (Like this season in general, the game featured plenty of positives, with just enough concerns to keep expectations — and it's safe to say, after the past month, this team now has expectations — just a bit in check.) The Giants are riding a four-game winning streak. Seattle hasn't lost a home game this season. What will happen after this year's 5-2 start? We'll have a better idea after Sunday.

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Photo: Kirby Lee/Getty Images