Even after last night’s loss, the NFC, and even the entire NFL, should be afraid of the disruptiveness the Giants could cause in the playoffs. In a 24-19 loss to the Eagles, the Giants started the game by looking lost, beginning with a three-and-out, a successful, easy, Eagles’ touchdown drive, and a Eli Manning interception returned for a touchdown by Malcolm Jenkins. The start showed the side that Giant fans were scared to see a defense that failed to show improvement and an offense happened by Eli Manning’s decision making and lacking explosiveness. The Giants rebounded, but eventually came up short in their comeback effort. While the game showcased some of the Giants’ flaws, it also helped us put in perspective how good the Giants could really be. In their loss to the Eagles, the Giants were without two of their better defensive players, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Pro-Bowler Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins should be no worry to play in the playoffs, but JPP could be another story.
The Giants’ defensive prowess was on display during their dominating defensive wins against both the Cowboys and the Lions. Last night, they lacked the tenacity shown in the two previous games, but that could be due to the short rest of playing on Thursday or their many key injuries. If the Giants can reestablish their strength on defense, they could be a tough team to take down in the playoffs. Their defense begins upfront, featuring Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Jonathan Hankins and JPP, when healthy. While their linebacking core can be suspect at time, it is made up for by their cornerbacks, Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, and Eli Apple, as well as Defensive Player of the Year candidate Landon Collins and Andrew Adams at safety. This defense has shown the potential to shut down any team, no matter how good their offense is, as shown by their performance over the Cowboys and Lions.
While the Giants’ offense has slugged its way through many games this year, including lots that they won, it seems to be getting onto the correct track now. Against the Eagles they still were not a complete offense, struggling in the red-zone, but moving the ball well throughout the game, finishing with over 450 yards. One of the main issues surrounding their offense has been their inability to run the ball, but since Justin Pugh returned last week, they have found some limited success. Both Paul Perkins and Rashad Jennings averaged 4.5 yards per carry or more against the Eagles. If they can continue to maintain success on the ground, it will result in a better passing offense, even with Manning’s recent lack of decision making skills. With Odell Beckham Jr. having the ability to take over any game, and Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz helping him out, this aerial attack can strike at any time.
Just a few weeks ago, most notably in their loss to the Steelers, the Giants seemed to be a team that had some potential, with a great defense, but not yet to have figure out how to win at all aspects of the game. After the Eagles’ game, the Giants may have finally found success on both offense and defense in the recent weeks, and now all it takes is for them to put it all together and make a run in the playoffs. If I was another playoff team in the NFC, this would not be the team I would want to play, as they have shown they could shut down any team, and with their newfound offense, they might not even need to keep your offense contained.