After the win over the Detroit Lions, the New York Giants now showcase the second-best record in the NFC at 10-4. Here’s how they’ve done it.
The New York Giants are sitting pretty at 10-4, boasting the second-best record in the NFC. On the heels of their 17-6 win over the Detroit Lions, a victory on Thursday night in Philadelphia would see the Giants clinch their first postseason berth since 2011.
New York has won eight of its last nine games, the only blemish being against the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago. Additionally, the Giants arrow is clearly trending upwards. After squeezing out victories against teams like Cincinnati and Chicago, who will not be making the playoffs this season, the Giants have put together two very impressive wins on the bounce.
A 10-7 triumph against the Cowboys, despite the slim margin of victory, was perhaps the best win for the franchise since the 2012 Super Bowl. Additionally, a 17-6 victory against the 9-4 Lions was only the second game all season that New York has won by more than one possession.
The Giants are running with a newly discovered formula, which seems to be working wonders for this team.
It’s actually pretty simple: play dominant, lights-out defense, and let Odell Beckham Jr. produce enough magic to grind out a tight victory.
So far, it’s working pretty well– the Giants haven’t won 10 games in a regular season since 2010– even when they won the Super Bowl in 2011-12, they snuck into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. In fact, the Giants have only reached double-digit wins four times in the past decade.
It also seems like a decade since Big Blue had a defense this dominant. Offseason acquisitions Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon have done wonders for the run game, as has the emergence of leading tackler Landon Collins. Janoris Jenkins has become the shutdown corner the Giants desperately needed, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple certainly help form one of the best cornerback trios in the NFL.
The Giants continue to face MVP caliber players– the Steelers trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown, the Cowboys rookie sensation duo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot, and the much improved Matthew Stafford. And, despite considerably heightened opposition, they continue to improve. Heading into the season, it would be unfathomable to believe that the Giants would surrender 13 points in a two-game stretch — not only have they done it, but they managed to do it against two high-octane offenses, one which was riding an 11 game win streak, the other featuring a quarterback with the best regular season fourth quarter pedigree in NFL history.
Last season, the Giants needed to be out of sight to have any sort of comfort about a fourth-quarter lead — if it was under a 14 point lead, the odds were that the Giants would cough it up.
This season, it seems like a formality that the Giants defense will be unbeatable with the game on the line. Despite Prescott having two chances to drive Dallas into field goal range in the final 2 minutes, and despite Stafford having the whole second half to work with and only trailing by four points, it never felt like the Giants defense would surrender the points– even without Jason Pierre-Paul last weekend, and even without JPP and Jenkins this weekend. New York’s defense has pitched two fourth-quarter shutouts on the trot.
Alas, the Giants defense is only half of the formula. The other half consists of the one man highlight reel known as Odell Beckham Jr. who, despite his antics, is quite possibly the most exciting wide receiver ever to grace an NFL field. Beckham had pedestrian numbers by his standards– 6 grabs and 64 yards against a very strong corner in Darius Slay, who will likely make the Pro Bowl– but when the game was on the line, Beckham made the plays that mattered.
In the fourth quarter, with the stagnant Giants offense facing a third and ten, Beckham got separation from Slay and made a huge, momentum-shifting catch for 25 yards. That play got the Giants offense rolling. On the next play, quarterback Eli Manning found Sterling Shepard on the sideline for 23 more yards, and three plays later, this happened:
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) December 18, 2016
All of a sudden, a four-point game became an eleven point game, and the Giants were practically out of sight. The defense dug in yet again, stifling Stafford for two more possessions, including a game-sealing pick by Rodgers-Cromartie in the end zone, and the Giants improved to 10-4.
This Giants team still has question marks moving forward. The offense is often stagnant, is too reliant on Beckham, and often fails to incorporate receivers like Victor Cruz and tight end Will Tye. The offensive line and the run game need a lot of work (although they are steadily improving). The defense will need to continue to play at a high level, despite injuries and the fact that the offense, who rank near the bottom of the league in time of possession, leave them on the field for a lot longer than they should be.
But at the moment, the Giants seem to have bottled the winning formula: Play ferocious defense, and utilize Odell Beckham’s magic to get enough offense to grind out victories. This winning formula has them a game away from a playoff berth, and this winning formula could be enough to carry them all the way to Houston, and the Super Bowl.