They once stood at 0-6, they're now 4-6. The New York Giants have gone from being considered one of the worst teams in the league to believing they have a shot at the playoffs in one short month. Now, they have a home date coming up with the Dallas Cowboys and an opportunity to really make some noise in the NFC East. So just how did the men in blue accomplish this?
In the NFL, there are no gimme games. So when a team wins four in a row you have to take your hat off and say well done. But, the Giants have received one of the best combinations ever of a favorable schedule mixed with incredible good fortune. I'll let Ed over at Big Blue View lay it out as he talks about the teams the Giants have faced over their 4-game win streak.
The Minnesota Vikings with the incomprehensibly awful Josh Freeman; the Philadelphia Eagles with an injured Michael Vick and an in-over-his-head Matt Barkley; the Oakland Raiders and a forward-pass challenged Terrelle Pryor limited with a hamstring injury; the Green Bay Packers with undrafted, confused third-stringer Scott Tolzien.
The Giants are feasting on either bad teams, or teams with serious quarterback issues, in some case both. They are winning though, so how are they getting it done? Without watching the film over the last month, I'll lift some ideas from the Giants writers.
One of the big things everybody mentions is Jon Beason. His acquisition from Carolina has helped to transform the Giants defense. He's given them a play-maker at linebacker, a position that was very weak to start the year. His confidence and ability is helping the rest of the defense.
Eli Manning is not playing great, but he's at least playing pretty well. He's limited his turnovers which were killing the Giants earlier in the year. It appears he's not taking as many risks down field, instead he has shortened up his game by making easier throws.
Much of it has to do with the stuff they’re running: Manning gets to throw to running backs now, he found a tight end (in this case, Brandon Myers) who could control the center of the field, and the guys behind him are moving piles again. Maybe the Giants will never do what made Manning great – the deep passing game, as risky as it is – because he won’t get the time to let those plays develop. Maybe this short passing game suits him better -- "We hit two screens for positive yards – that’s a first!" he gushed -- but you still sense that the Giants are doing this just to buy time before they get back to playing home run derby.
Andre Brown has given them a presence at running back. The Giants have been cycling through running backs all year but the last couple of weeks have seen the emergence of Brown, who runs hard and can move the pile.
On the flip side of the equation are the problem areas the Giants still have. The offensive line by all accounts is not very good right now. Part of the reason Eli isn't going as deep lately is he simply doesn't have time. And while Andre Brown has been a tough runner, he's had to fight for those yards. If DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher are both healthy, they could be a key to victory. Also, the Giants secondary can be had. Ed at Big Blue View sums it up:
Manning was sacked four times Sunday. The offensive line has been better, but the sacks and the amount of work Brown had to do on his own show there is still room for improvement.
(Scott) Tolzien hit three deep balls. He victimized Trumaine McBride on a 52-yard pass to Jarrett Boykin, Prince Amukamara on a 45-yard strike to James Jones and Terrell Thomas on a 29-yard throw to Jordy Nelson. I would guess Tony Romo and the Cowboys will take note when they watch film this week.
So here we go - a race to the playoffs. It starts this week with the Giants. How are you feeling about the game?