Squeaking by games against inferior opponents is no longer acceptable for the New York Giants. With the Philadelphia Eagles finally dropping a game, and in danger of losing more, there is a path for the New York Giants to win the NFC East division.
What are the odds we’d be talking about that late into November when the season started?
The Brian Doball/Joe Schoen regime has passed every single early-season test with flying colors to start the season. At 7-2, the Giants have used a combination of good defense and a dominant run game to squeak by their opponents.
Clutch play from quarterback Daniel Jones has also helped tremendously.
Yet as the idea of an NFC East crown becomes more and more attainable, the way the Giants win will be scrutinized more and more. In a league where ugly wins are counted the same as great wins, New York Giant fans are right to believe that as long as the team continues to find ways to win in the end, it won’t matter.
For a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2015, it’s a fair conclusion.
New York’s +14 point differential is the sixth highest in a weak NFC and 12th across the league. In their last four wins, the Giants have won by margins of 5, 4, 6, and 8. Winning multiple one-score games is important for the growth of a team. But relying on clutch play to win games is dangerous.
As Football Outsiders said regarding clutch teams “clutch performance is a cruel mistress.”
When the Giants take the field on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, New York will play a team that is inferior to them. Detroit’s defense is the worst in football, and their offense is prone to backbreaking mistakes.
This is a game where, if the Giants are to present themselves as NFC East contenders, they need to show they actually belong among the tops in the division. The Eagles and Cowboys both have key blowout wins over some very good football teams.
Philadelphia blew out Minnesota in September and has five of their eight wins by two scores. The Cowboys have beaten both Super Bowl teams from the previous season.
This isn’t to say that New York hasn’t played anybody either. Wins against Baltimore and Tennessee look excellent now with both teams at the top of their division. But a six-point win over Jacksonville and an eight-point win against Houston aren’t enough to show that the Giants are better than the Eagles or Cowboys.
If the Giants want to play at the big boy table of their division, it will need to be by routing teams they should rout. Philadelphia has shown it can do that. Dallas has shown that as well.
It’s up to the Giants to send that message on Sunday.