Despite the New York Giants falling to 1-4 on the season at the hands of a very advantageous Carolina Panthers, they seem to still be relevant in the NFC East.
It was expected that the Giants’ division would be one of the most competitive this season, especially with the former Super Bowl Champion Eagles returning most of their starting players. Thus far, the Dallas Cowboys areÂ Â 2-3, the Eagles are 2-3, and the Redskins are 2-2 after losing to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night.
The Giants are still very much in the race to emerge as a late bloomer in the NFC East, although they have a tough schedule that will certainly test their limits. A devastating loss to the Panthers on the leg of Graham Gano only picks away at the locker room and emotional stature of the team.
The next three games for Big Blue look like this:
The Giants face off against a dangerous Philly team on Thursday night this week, and it will be a grinder that will give one team the advantage moving forward. The Eagles always play the Giants hard, but with starting running back Jay Ajayi out for the season with a torn ACL, they will be vulnerable on offense.
Quarterback Carson Wentz has looked rusty to start the season, so expect defensive coordinator James Bettcher to put pressure on Wentz consistently. Having Olivier Vernon, who HC Pat Shurmur said was optimistic to return against the Eagles, would completely change the dynamic of the game. In other words, it would give the Giants a much needed boost in regard to their pass rush, a unit that only sacked Cam Newton once in the 33-31 loss.
After the Eagles, the Giants have a nice chunk of time off before they play the Falcons, who have been an offensive juggernaut this season.
Atlanta is coming off an ugly loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (41-17), who shut down the run game for the Falcons and limited Matt Ryan to just 285 passing yards and one touchdown. The defense for Pittsburgh played a massive role in this game, sacking Ryan twice and scoring two touchdowns. The Giants will need a defensive juggernaut performance to overcome a tricky Falcons team.
Next up, Washington. The Skins have looked good at times this season, but if you know anything about QB Alex Smith, it’s that he can be easily disrupted. His style is high-probability throws, management, and execution. The Giants must rattle him early on in the game to keep him cautious, while also playing a shallow cover 2 defense. Washington likes to keep their receivers close to the first-down marker, usually sending one guy on a skinny post deep to try and catch the defense off guard. Expect to see Betther keep one deep safety as a precaution for this exact scenario.
Bottom line, Shurmur and his team need some luck to take a lead in the division, but with the next three matchup certainly winnable, I would expect to see nothing but heart in the weeks ahead.
Washington faces Dallas on Sunday which puts even more pressure on the Giants to earn a win against Philly.