Did the clock strike midnight during the Giants Cinderella race? Breaking down where New York falls in the NFC

Has the apple soured? After a 7-2 start to the season that put the Giants at the heart of the playoff picture, the question arises whether New York has already reached the peak of its season and is on the verge of a downward slope. If the season ended today, they would be in the playoffs as the sixth seed in the conference. But does the road ahead lead to more wins than losses and will that ultimately chase them out of the playoffs?

First, it should be noted why there is suddenly such pessimism in East Rutherford. After all, if you just landed on Earth and looked at the standings, you’d be looking at a club that’s only two games away from the loss column for the NFC’s No. 1 seed. However, New York is coming off its third loss of the season and it has the potential to be a demoralizing loss that has ripple effects that could be felt throughout the race.

Most notable are the injuries that occurred in Week 11. Against Detroit, the Giants had six players out with injury: cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson (knee) and Fabian Moreau (ribs) as well as Wan’ Dale Robinson (knee), safety Jason Pinnock (jaw), center Jon Feliciano (neck) and right tackle Tire Phillips (neck).

It has since been revealed that Robinson – who was enjoying his statistical best game of the season – suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. That leaves Darius Slayton, Richie James and the ghost of Kenny Golladay as New York wide receiver options going forward, making him arguably the slimmest receiving room in the NFL.

Meanwhile, Jackson – who was injured in a punt return – sprained the MCL and will miss at least a month, leaving New York without its top corner. Considering how quickly their next game will be against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, it may be difficult for the rest of the injured Giants to get dressed as well. If Moreau is sidelined, another high school starter will be sidelined. The club have already been without safety Xavier McKinney after he injured his hand in a mountain bike accident.

In addition to injuries, the Giants simply regressed against a Lions team that sported one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Heading into Week 11, Detroit had given up the most points (29.3) and yards per game (416.2) in the NFL this season. Against this unit, the Giants could only manage 18 points. All of this was enough for the New York area to click the panic button.

Specifically, it is the struggles of Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley that should be the most alarming for the club’s future prospects. The Lions ranked 31st in the NFL this season in rushing yards per game, giving up an average of 160.9 in the first 10 weeks. On Sunday, Barkley could only manage 22 yards on 15 carries. He faced a particularly tough luge on the first try where he averaged just 1.2 yards per stroke (10 runs, 12 yards). As a team this season, New York’s 4.4 yards per play on first down is second-fewest in the NFL, so it’s been a problem that extends well beyond Week 11, but has pops up here with Barkley’s inability to move the chains against a soft Lions run defense.

Meanwhile, one of the bright spots of the season for the Giants had been Daniel Jones’ ability not to return the ball. Heading into Sunday, Jones’ turnovers of 1.3% down were fourth-lowest in the NFL. However, he just kicked off his first multi-interception game against Detroit and showed pretty poor field vision on both, especially pick Aidan Hutchinson.

I believe these issues are related. The offense, as it is currently constructed, has to go through Barkley. But, if the defense sells out to stop him and forces Jones back for a season-high 44 times like he did on Sunday, turnovers are inevitable and New York suddenly plays an offensive mark that doesn’t. not. work to his strength. That’s especially true when looking at that tight offensive line that has the NFL’s second-highest pressure rating this season.

The Giants had to play perfect football to overcome their shortcomings on the roster and throughout the first half of the season they were more than able to do that, credit to Brian Daboll. However, these injuries can make the idea of ​​it being sustainable even more unrealistic.

Of course, there’s also the variable Odell Beckham Jr.. Could a reunion with Beckham Jr. help smooth things over on offense? Sure. That said, the protection in front of Jones needs to be better or whoever is open in the passing lane. Also, it’s important to note throughout this pursuit of a Beckham reunion that we really don’t know what type of player the Giants would get. After all, he’s less than a year away from his second ACL tear. If he’s the same one we saw last season, he’ll be a much-needed addition to that New York wide reception hall, but it’s a bit risky to rest your season’s fate.

Remaining schedule

New York has the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL with opponents boasting a combined .678 winning percentage. Given how likely they are to be shorthanded against Dallas and the fact that the Cowboys have arguably the best defense in the NFL, it’s safe to say they’re dropping the Thanksgiving game. Their most winnable games come in Week 13 against Washington and Week 17 against the Colts, both of which are at MetLife Stadium. However, Washington has been brave over the past few weeks with Taylor Heinicke under center, so it won’t be an easy W and they will most likely part ways with them at best.

So that takes the Giants to 9-8 on the season, which could still be good enough to reach the playoffs as the sixth or seventh seed. The big question might be New York’s Week 18 game against Philadelphia. If the Eagles have the No. 1 seed or other playoff position already locked in at this point, it could allow them to rest their starters in the regular-season finale and give the Giants an easier path to victory. If that’s the case and the rest of the season plays out as predicted above, 10-7 would almost certainly get them in, despite a .500 drop in the streak.

Do they go much further than that? Unlikely. So we’re most likely looking at a team that limps through the final weeks of the season and makes the playoffs thanks to its early season success. Beyond that, they’re likely destined to be a sacrificial lamb for any NFC juggernaut they draw during Wild Card weekend.

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