The Giants are notorious for starting quick and sliding towards the end of the season. 4 weeks ago, the Giants were a stellar 6-2, and they were widely considered one of the best teams in the league. With Eli Manning’s elite level play, they were fighting for the 2 seed in the NFC playoff picture with the San Francisco 49ers.
4 weeks and 4 losses later, they’re clinging to hopes of a postseason birth. The Giants are currently the 8th ranked team in the NFC, just 1 game back in both the NFC East divisional race and the NFC wild-card race.
The Giants schedule has afforded them some level of luck however. They have still not played the division leading Cowboys this year. At 7-5, the Cowboys own a 1 game lead over the 6-6 Giants, but the tie-breaker between the two teams has not even started being determined. Their first matchup comes on Sunday Night Football this weekend. The winner of the game will be in first place in the NFC East; the loser will likely be on the outside looking in. To say the least, it’s a high stakes game.
Even if the Giants can pull out the win against the Cowboys, they’re not out of the woods. The two teams round out their season series in a week 17 matchup that could become a winner-take-all game. I’ve got my fingers crossed for that scenario.
Outside of their two games with the Cowboys, the Giants do have what most would call relatively easy games. The Giants host a terrible Redskins group that can’t seem to ever get their feat under them, and then they “visit” their own stadium against the Jets. The key for them to be the Jets is simply to ring up the score, and that’s something the Giants are certainly capable of doing.
The scenario for the Giants to get into the playoffs is actually quite simple. That being said, the team has to pull themselves together after 4 straight losses in order to pull it off. As with most teams that struggle late in the season, it’s all about cleaning up the small, fundamental aspects of their game. Stupid penalties need to be eliminated, form tackling needs to be a priority on defense, and the offense and special teams units can’t put the defense into short-field situations.
That all starts and ends with Eli Manning. In the Giants’ 6 wins, Manning has thrown a total of 2 interceptions. In their 6 losses, Manning has thrown a total of 9 interceptions. That all goes back to the fundamental strategy of not giving away points, something the Giants have become very proficient at doing in their losing efforts.
The Giants may be the most fortunate 6-6 team in the league right now. They still control their own destiny with 4 games to play, despite only being a .500 team. They’ll get 2 shots at the Cowboys as the 2011 season comes to a close. Winning both of those games would nearly ensure an NFC East title for the Giants and another playoff birth. The only question for the Giants is whether or not they’re equal to the challenge at hand.