I like to believe I have a pretty good eye for detail when I watch New York Giants games. I have to admit, though, I learn something almost every time I scour through one of Mike Garafolo's game reports.
This week is no exception, as I found lots of small nuances and interesting facts in his report on the Giants' 34-10 victory over Houston.
One sort of 'throwaway' fact in MG's post Monday night was that the Giants have started 1-2 under Tom Coughlin in two other seasons -- 2006 and 2007. In both of those seasons they reeled off long winning streaks and reached the halfway point of the NFL season with 6-2 records.
That actually was a useful nugget since, in my giddiness Monday following Sunday's impressive victory I was considering the possibility that the 3-2 Giants could hit the halfway point of the season at 6-2.
Standing in their way?
- The 1-4 Detroit Lions, coming to New Meadowlands Stadium this Sunday.
- A Monday night game in Dallas against the 1-3 Cowboys.
- A road game against the 2-2 Seattle Seahawks.
All winnable games for the Giants? Undeniably, making it hard not to consider the possibility of being 6-2 heading into what promises to be a brutal second-half schedule for the Giants.
Let's not get carried away, though. These games are winnable, but not easy. The Lions are 1-4, but coming off an impressive 44-6 victory over St. Louis and they have been in every game, the Cowboys are talented and capable no matter their record and Seattle has been a house of horrors in the past for the Giants. So, nothing to take for granted the next three weeks.
Since Detroit is coming into New Meadowlands Stadium this weekend, let's take a quick look at the Lions. Sure they are 1-4, but inspect their five games thus far and you see a one-hapless team on the rise that could be 4-1.
Included in their losses were:
- A 19-14 loss to Chicago, a game they actually won except for a nitpicky rule that nullified a Calvin Johnson game-winning touchdown.
- A three-point loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
- A two-point loss to the Green Bay Packers.
So, don't try and tell me this game is an automatic victory for the Giants. In fact, read our friends over at SB Nation's Lions blog, Pride of Detroit, and they are feeling positively giddy about their football team after watching it dismantle St. Louis.
Although we are still only 1-4, it felt like one of those corner-turning games. We've been so close to winning and we all needed a game against a lesser opponent to verify what many of us have been thinking yet somewhat unsure of... we are better than our record. And our Lions came through with flying colors, dominating in all phases and showing the world what we have the ability to do. ... We are a dangerous animal right now. We are a juvenile delinquent with a loaded handgun. We are Uzbekistan with a nuke. We are the team with the talent and weapons that might not have the ability - just yet - to control it all well enough to make something positive happen.
Umm ... yeah, I would call that giddy with optimism.
Can't blame them, though, really. Lions fans have not had much to cheer about in recent years, and this team is showing improvement. The Lions are sixth in the league in points scored, so they will present a challenge for Perry Fewell's reborn defense.
As for the Giants, we know they have shown tremendous improvement since the season began. Fewell's defense is getting better and better, even with Mathias Kiwanuka and Keith Bulluck out of action. The offense is beginning to find some continuity in the ground game. The special teams, at least in terms of the kick and punt coverage, are getting better.
Still, though, I don't think we have seen a complete game from the Giants. Even in Sunday's impressive victory over Houston, there were things to pick on. Two unnecessary interceptions by Eli Manning, and sure we can argue about whether he should have been throwing at all. Still pretty much nothing in the return game, and a muffed punt by Darius Reynaud. More penalties than you would like.
So, yes, the Giants could get to 6-2 and it would be really, really nice to do so. I am not, however, counting on it.