brian daboll giants
Danielle Parhizkaran |

The Giants have arrived at the fork in the road.

Two of them, if you want to be precise.

The NFL’s most surprising playoff contender returns from its open week with a scheduling gift. The Giants have a two-game lead for the NFC’s second wild card and they are about to play two also-rans at home in consecutive weeks. Beat the Texans, beat the Lions and they are 8-2 with seven games to go. Work would still need to be done down the stretch, of course. And the competition level is about to make a big jump. But everything we have seen this fall all but guarantees Brian Daboll and his coaching staff would find a way to win at least two more games. Which should get the Giants into the tournament.

That is why general manager Joe Schoen made the right move standing pat at last week’s trade deadline. The Giants have exceeded all expectations. They are what their record says they are. But there has been a smoke-and-mirrors aspect to this success. They are not a Super Bowl contender. And they are not a player away from being one. The Giants’ calculus would be the exact same today if they had made a move for Brandin Cooks or Jerry Jeudy. Schoen deserves kudos for acknowledging that and sticking to his plan.

Conversely, the Giants could begin to tailspin if they slip up in the next two weeks. The final seven games will not be for the faint of heart. Only Week 17 against the flopping Colts looks like a given. The Giants have to tussle with the Eagles and Commanders twice, go to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and also visit the surging Vikings.

Wins will be hard to come by. If the Giants have built their firewall beforehand, they can still make the playoffs. But if they lose to the Texans or Lions (or both)? It could be a setback they cannot regain pace after. The Packers, Rams and Saints seem buried now. But if the Giants start taking on losses, things will get hairy. Which is why if they want to complete this magic carpet ride, they need to win the next two weeks.

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James Kratch can be reached at


James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.