The month of December will prove whether the New York Giants are truly contenders or shady pretenders.
Things are looking pretty good for these New York Football Giants at the moment.
A six-game win streak has seen Ben McAdoo’s boys fly up to 8-3, the second best record in the NFC (albeit, also the second best record in their division). They just clinched their first winning season in three years and just recorded their first two-possession victory of the season over the winless Cleveland Browns.
The morale around this team hasn’t been higher since, well, they won the Super Bowl. Ever since then, the Giants have stumbled and bumbled along, failing to make the playoffs.
Making the postseason now is a very real possibility. However, there is still a chance the Giants miss out yet again, mostly due to the immense difficulty of the remaining schedule.
First up, a trip to Pittsburgh to take on Ben Roethlisberger and his high octane offense. The Steelers are very much in the hunt for the AFC North division title, and every win is crucial. The fact that the game is at Heinz Field plays a big part in the Steel Curtain’s favor.
Next, the rematch: The Dallas Cowboys, who currently have one loss to their name, which was in Week 1 against the Giants, travel to MetLife seeking revenge. The Boys are a different team this time around, as Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott have really rounded into form since that Week 1 meeting. The Cowboys could essentially ice the NFC East with a dub against the Giants on the road.
Following that, the Giants host the Detroit Lions. Despite trailing in the fourth quarter of all eleven of their games this season, the Lions are 7-4, and have a slight lead in their division over the flailing Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. Matthew Stafford has shown his clutch gene, circa Eli Manning in 2011, and has put together an MVP caliber campaign.
New York ends the season with two road games in the division. First, a trip to Lincoln Financial Field to take on Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles. While some of that rookie magic has faded from the Birds, they have perpetually been a thorn in the Giants’ side, and could play a key role in upending their postseason hopes, especially in front of a deafening crowd on Thursday Night. Playing on short rest and on the road could spell doom for Big Blue.
And finally, Washington awaits on the final day of the regular season. The Redskins are one of the few teams that have a legitimate shot of catching up to the Giants and taking their postseason spot. Kirk Cousins is playing out of his mind at the minute, and could pose a huge threat to New York’s secondary. The Skins also were the first team this year to defeat the Giants, when they upset them at home in Week 3.
Am I being pessimistic? I would say realistic — there is a very real chance the Giants could flounder down the stretch and miss out on the playoffs. They are going up against five teams that, with the exception of the Eagles, will very likely make it to the postseason. Dallas and Detroit will likely win their division, Pittsburgh has a very good chance at winning theirs, and Washington is playing like a team who could earn a Wild Card berth.
Is there a chance the Giants prevail in more than half of their remaining games and make the playoffs on a high note Absolutely. Despite an inconsistent offense, the potential has always been there. If Eli, Odell, and company can dial it up, while getting a helpful boost from Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins in the backfield, they could begin to run with the explosive offenses they are facing.
Plus, the Giants’ defense has been out of this world recently. Landon Collins is turning into a top tier safety, Janoris Jenkins is more than capable of slowing down wideouts like Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant, and pass rushers Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul are among the most in-form players in the National Football League.
The Giants still have a lot of unanswered questions, but they also have eight wins. That suggests that, going into their daunting final five games, literally anything can happen. Will they run the table and finish the year on an 11-game win streak? Will they lose all five and crash out of the playoffs? Will they go 3-2 or 2-3 and comfortably finish with a Wild Card berth? Any possibility is feasible.
Whatever happens, the next five games will prove if this New York Giants team is for real, or if they were just feasting on weaker competition.