Rex Ryan could not refrain from making the championship comparison: Monday night's Jets loss to the Patriots channeled the '85 Bears lone defeat to the Dolphins. And then, the 3-word outcry echoed in every corner of the NFL world: "ARE YOU SERIOUS?!"
Since Ryan has said so much in so short a time, he isn't to be taken seriously. Alas, I digress. This column is less about the Jets (not at all, really) and really about the Giants victory over the Washington Redskins, and what it tells me as New York heads into December.
The Giants had come off 2 terrible loses to the Cowboys and Eagles, and really they could have and should have won those games if not for ridiculous, self-inflicted mistakes. What was arguably worse than falling behind in the NFC East division race was to lose WRs Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks to injury, along with 3 starting offensive linemen.
And what a terrible time to lose key starters, too. With 6 regular season games remaining, and their playoff destiny very much in doubt, lesser teams would have been all but collapsed. Losing so many crucial, offensive starters in one swoop would have crippled many--most--NFL teams.
But, here are the Giants, coming off two impressive home victories and thrusting themselves right in the middle of the NFC playoff race. Along the way, New York's patchwork offensive line has kept Eli upright for the 5th straight game, a Giants record. And while the passing game has toned down it's octane level due to injury, the running game has done precisely what is required in December in New York.
We all know the stories: the 30mph + wind whipping through Giants Stadium, the 20 degree temperature, the field covered in frost. No one, and I mean no one, throws well in that weather. Luckily, the depth on the offensive line, and a resurgent Brandon Jacobs (and, hopefully, a fumble-less Bradshaw) has enabled the Giants offense to not have to throw.
The defense has shut down the opposition. In the last 6 quarters, New York's defensive stalwarts have allowed 10 total points. That promising trend is another key point heading into the final stretch: teams only get more desperate to make the postseason, and with the Giants facing two tough, playoff ready opponents in the next month (the Packers and Eagles) the winning team is the one that lets up the least amount of points. And note this: the Giants have registered 8 takeaways in the last 6 quarters. This is enough to overcome a Giants offense still afflicted by the turnover bug.
All things considered, this is the best position the Giants could have hoped for: they're staring down a very winnable game at Minnesota, and have the Philadelphia Eagles coming to the Meadowlands for the Division title. New York has positioned themselves for a winning December, and look forward to offensive reinforcements returning to the starting lineup.
Just in time.