The fate of the New York Giants’ season lies solely in the hands of their longtime quarterback.
The good news for the New York Giants is that they’re 8-4 and have a firm grasp on a wild card spot in the NFC. The bad news is that they just lost Jason Pierre-Paul for the season, they have four tough remaining games, and they have yet to fix their offensive woes.
The latter was not supposed to be an issue, as some thought the offense led by Eli Manning, having arguably the best trio of receivers in the league in Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, and Sterling Shepard, could break some franchise records this season. But the offense has been a disappointment all season and is not showing signs of improving.
Manning has not had a bad season, but it hasn’t been a good one either. He does have 22 touchdowns as opposed to 12 interceptions, along with completing 63.1 percent of his passes. However, his quarterback rating is down 5.3 percent from last season and his passing yards per game are also down from a season ago.
The Giants’ running game, which was 19th in the NFL last season at 100.6 yards per game last season, is 31st this season at 77.5 yards per game. The lack of a running game is one of the reasons the Giants are one of six teams that have yet to score 30 points in any game this season (Browns, Texans, Jaguars, Bears, 49ers).
The running game and pass protection will improve slightly once guard Justin Pugh returns, and the defense, despite the loss of Pierre-Paul, will hold their own.
But if the Giants are going to make the playoffs, they will need their future Hall of Fame quarterback to start playing like one. The Giants can ill-afford for Manning to play the way he did against the Pittsburgh Steelers in any of their final four games.
Based on résumé, you would think that the Giants have an edge over their opponents at the quarterback position in the final four games of the season, especially since two of those games are against rookie quarterbacks. With that said, the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, the Lions’ Matthew Stafford, and the Redskins’ Kirk Cousins all have quarterback ratings that are at least 10 points higher than Manning’s. Of New York’s remaining scheduling, the 35-year-old only has a higher quarterback rating than Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles.
It will take at least two more wins in order for the Giants to make the playoffs, so it’s imperative that Manning plays better and doesn’t turn the ball over. These four games will be tough, so there’s little margin for error.
This will not be an unfamiliar situation for Manning as in 2011 he carried the Giants’ offense, which was last in rushing, into the playoffs and eventually to a win in Super Bowl XLVI. The Giants will need him to be elite again if they’re going to make the playoffs.