Tough schedule brings bye week at the right time
The NFL season is only three weeks old and some of the pre-season talk on the New York Giants winning their division for a second consecutive year may have seemed a bit premature. But is pushing the panic button this early premature, as well?
The 'Jints are currently 1-2 after being soundly beaten in Seattle on Sunday 42-30. But let's take a step back and see what has happened so far. They lost on opening night to the Indianapolis Colts at home. They played well in some aspects and hung in there versus an offensive juggernaut. The Giants secondary had opportunities to intercept a few poorly-thrown Peyton Manning passes that could have changed the game. An atrocious call of offensive pass interference in the fourth quarter did hurt their chances, too.
They then traveled to Philadelphia and fell behind to their divisional-rival eagles. A furious fourth quarter comeback led to an overtime win when Eli Manning found wide receiver Plaxico Burress open for a touchdown pass under pressure. Did they get lucky in this game? Debatable. But they could have easily been 0-2.
Traveling across the country for the second year in a row to face the Seahawks was another tall order. Especially since Seattle is the defending NFC champions. The game was not as close as the final score dictated. The Seahawks controlled the game from the coin flip and Big Blue's garbage time scores only made it look better in the newspapers.
Angry words were spewed on the Giants sideline and locker room. Tight end Jeremy Shockey said that the team was outplayed and outcoached, a knock on Head Coach Tom Coughlin. Three interceptions by Manning put the Giants in a hole. The lines on WFAN the following day were filled with angry fans talking about inappropriate reactions on the Giant sideline following a Manning pick. When the television camera shows a player laughing after a turnover in a blowout, that doesn't sit well with the people that pay good money for tickets. And there were open arguments on the Giant sideline. Hey, Major Tom- get a hold of your team!
Can they recover from a bad start, especially with all of the in-fighting? Perusing their remaining schedule only adds to the confusion. After a bye week, they host the 1-2 Washington Redskins. This is a game that the Giants should win. They then go on the road to face the 2-0 Atlanta Falcons and the 1-1 Dallas Cowboys. Can they get a split here? Probably. So now they may be 3-3. Three home games in a row will be a bit easier, with the 0-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (without their injured quarterback Chris Simms), 0-3 Houston Texans, and 3-0 Chicago Bears. Two out of three would be nice, leveling them off at 5-4.
Going back on the road, they go down to Jacksonville to face the 2-1 Jaguars and the 0-3 Titans. A loss to the Jags and a win at Tennessee seem reasonable, with a record of 6-5 after nine games. December is a tough month. They host the Cowboys, then go to Carolina (1-2). They then host the 1-2 Eagles and 2-0 New Orleans Saints. They finish up at Washington.
To make this a productive season, they will have to at least make the playoffs. Figuring that 10 wins would be enough for a Wild Card spot, which means they have to go 4-1 in their last five games. Not an easy task.