Seems like it’s that time of the season, where I look ahead to the upcoming match-ups for the New York Giants and try to predict how the tail end of the season will pan out. While things have been looking up for Big Blue, tallying 5 straight wins for a 7-3 record, there is still a lot of football to be played and there are no guarantees for a playoff appearance just yet. So let’s get to it, shall we? Here are my breakdowns and predictions for the rest of the Giants regular season.
On this date 12 years ago, @Giants QB Eli Manning made his 1st career start.
Since November 21, 2004, #Browns have started NFL-most 22 QBs. pic.twitter.com/RdGJCIaU9C
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 21, 2016
New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers – Sunday December 4th
The Steelers do not seem like the same team they did last year, and their record proves it. At the time of writing, they sit at 6-5, and they’ve had some head-scratchers this season. There is no doubt they have some talent on the offense. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have the ability to seriously hurt any defense in the league, but outside of that trio they desperately need some players to step up.
The Giants defense matches up favorably against the Steelers, sporting one of the better rushing defenses in the league. As do the Steelers for that matter, but New York barely runs the ball anyway. Pittsburgh will likely line Bell up as a slot receiver instead, but with the Giant’s secondary allowing one of the lowest completion percentages in the league, Brown and Bell can be held to minimal yardage. The real test will be whether the Giants can be effective in the passing game against a middling Steelers secondary, and that will be decided in the trenches. If the New York O-line can give Eli time in the pocket, his receivers should be able to feast.
Prediction: Giants win 21-17
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys – Sunday December 11th
This will be the hardest game the Giants play all year, mark my words. I really don’t think too much should be made about the fact that New York came away as the victors in Week One this season. Since that game, the Cowboys have looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender. That isn’t to say that Dallas is without any issues; their defense leaves a lot to be desired. But their ability to consistently dominate time-of-possession has gone a long way to cover any deficiencies their defense may have. The question will be whether or not the Giants will be able to contain Ezekiel Elliott, who is at the time of writing leading the league in rushing yards with over 1,000. They were able to once before, but let’s see if they can do it again.
Similar to the Steelers, I actually think the Giants match-up favorably against the Cowboys. New York’s defense has all the right pieces to shut down both Elliot and Dez Bryant, although probably not Jason Witten, it will just be a matter of execution. Again, this game is going to rely on an effective offensive outing from the Giants; and to be honest, we haven’t seen that just yet. If they show some more consistency against the Steelers I may change my mind, but I’m giving this one to the Cowboys.
Prediction: Giants lose 17-13
New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions – Sunday December 18th
The Lions are a bit of a dichotomy. Since Matt Stafford has been without star receiver Calvin Johnson following his retirement last year, the Detroit offense seems to have only gotten more explosive. There is something to be said about QB’s being hampered by elite receivers, in that they are less likely to complete their reads and spread the ball around, and it’s not without precedent – the Lions are simply the most recent example. Detroit has found themselves down in the 4th quarter every game this season and have pulled out a comeback victory seven times, a single-season record tied with none other than Eli and Peyton Manning.
Regardless, I think Detroit have a bottom third, at best middling, offense that is liable to play lights out any given Sunday with as much likelihood as they are to utterly collapse. There are some playmakers on this team, though. Stafford and wideout Golden Tate have connected on some beautiful plays this season, but I’m not convinced they can happen with any kind of consistency, particularly against a Giants secondary that has been shutting down receivers successfully all year. This one goes to Big Blue, heading into the pointy end of the season with a bit of momentum that will be vital.
Prediction: Giants win 23-19
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles – Thursday December 23rd
This is another hard one to predict. The Giants were able to best the Eagles the first time around, but they were assisted by early turnovers via some poorly thrown balls by rookie Carson Wentz, as well as some dubious play calling on 4th down from the Eagles. Despite the errors, the game ended with Philadelphia within one score. The hype over Wentz and the Eagles has died down since earlier in the season, though, and they’ve shown they’re far from perfect, particularly by their receiving corps who have all shown a propensity for dropped balls.
The Eagles defense has been decent, though. They have a solid pass rush and the secondary, whilst occasionally having some glaring mental errors, has been good against the pass. Their run defense might be their weakest link, but unless New York can prove they actually have a running game over the next few weeks, I doubt it will be too much of an issue. I think this one will come down to whichever team can avoid penalties and turnovers, the most disciplined team should come out on top for this one. Keeping that in mind, I’m going to give this one to the Giants, but it won’t be easy.
Prediction: Giants win 17-14
New York Giants @ Washington Redskins – Sunday January 1st
The Redskins have somehow sneaked through this season as one of the best offenses in the league, only to be overshadowed by the Dak and Zeke show in Dallas. I doubt they’re complaining, though. I’ve always been of the opinion that it is better to fly under the radar than be under the spotlight. They are a very good team, though, that much is obvious. I think they may have the right pieces to give the Giants a lot of problems.
Their passing game has as many weapons as it does skill positions, the most dangerous of which for New York will be tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. The Giants are at their weakest defensively when their linebackers are tested in coverage, and with Kirk Cousins playing some of his best football, Reed and Davis will likely have a big game. And as any Giants fan would know, DeSean Jackson is dangerous wherever he is on the field. Washington’s defense is about league average, but you only need to be average when your offense is balling out. As much as it pains me to say, I’m giving this one to the Redskins, their strengths make them the perfect team to take out New York.
Prediction: Giants lose 27-20
So that’s that, the rest of the season looks a little bumpy, but I’m predicting the Giants clinch a wildcard spot with an 11-5 record to round out a much improved season. What they do from there is obviously a big question, but I have no doubt that with Eli Manning behind center this team has the ability to make miracles happen. Don’t take this as gospel, though. A lot can happen in December, and we’ve already seen teams rise and fall through 11 weeks of football. I believe in Big Blue, though, and even a one-and-done playoff appearance is better than what we’ve had to endure for the last few years.