Death, taxes… and the Philadelphia Eagles screwing the New York Giants. These are the certainties in life, even when the Giants are clearly the better team. With the 24-19 win by the Eagles over their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys clinch the NFC East and home field. The Giants are still almost definitely making the playoffs, but there’s suddenly plenty of doubt regarding their credentials and contender status.
The Eagles, at 6-9, won’t make it in. Their defense did a great job of exposing how bad Eli Manning can be sometimes, but Carson Wentz was far from special and in short, the performances we saw from this team during their 3-0 start are long gone. The Eagles have a solid base and probably a quarterback they can feel good about for years to come, but this team is far from being good enough to challenge in a division that suddenly is possibly the best in the NFL.
Eli Manning threw 3 interceptions, and we once again learned that if the Giants are going to be stopped this season, it’ll be the combination of Ben McAdoo and Manning that brings them down. They have arguably the best defense in the NFL, talented receivers and an improving running game. But Manning has been inconsistent and the way he’s been used has been baffling, considering McAdoo is supposed to be an offensive expert. The Giants haven’t reached 20 points in four consecutive games. Defense wins championships, but it has to come with some sort of competence offensively. Simply counting on Manning’s experience in the playoffs isn’t enough. A lot of the Giants players who’ll play in the postseason, if the team gets in, don’t have a lot of experience of playing football in January.
And there’s Odell Beckham, one of the best playmakers in the NFL, but also one of the most thin-skinned players in the league. He reportedly banged his head against a wall after going off the field, and was escorted through the tunnel by Giants owner John Mara, who took him to the locker room. Beckham was frustrated with a bad game, but these incidents just make him an easier target for defenses, as difficult as it is to stop him.
The Giants, if and when they make the playoffs, will have to play on the road in order to make the Super Bowl. They’re 7-1 at home this season but only 3-4 on the road, with losses in Philly, Minnesota and Pittsburgh. In short, they lose to good teams on the road. Their only good road win came against Dallas on opening night, and they narrowly escaped with the win. Their other two road wins? Cleveland and over the Rams in London.
There’s one complicated scenario that can make the Giants miss the playoffs – This Saturday the Packers need to beat the Vikings, the Falcons beat Carolina, the Bucs beat the Saints and the Lions win on the road against the Cowboys. Remember, Dallas don’t have anything to play for anymore. If all that does happen, the following need to happen in week 17: Giants lose in Washington to the Redskins, Packers winning at Detroit, Falcons beating the Saints, Buccaneers beating the Panthers. If all of this happens, the Giants finish in a 10-6 tie with the Lions and Bucs, which means they lose the tiebreaker for the wild card spots.
Again, the Giants are probably getting in through the wild card because their 10 wins (first 10 win season since 2008), but counting on their defense to carry another Manning to a Super Bowl ring doesn’t seem like such an easy plan to execute. What’s good for Denver isn’t necessarily good for New York.