The 4-4 New York Giants are not exactly a juggernaut, but if the season ended today they would be NFC East champions. That's a fact Tom Coughlin made sure he reminded everyone of during his Wednesday press conference.
"Right now we're currently in first place, so let's stay there," Coughlin said.
Thing is, based on strength of schedule remaining, the Giants might have already missed their best chance to do that. Football Outsiders estimates that the Giants have the seventh-toughest schedule among NFL teams over the second half of the season.
Football Outsiders went beyond pure opponents' won-loss records to come up with its rankings. They used their Defense Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) to determine what percentage of games an average team would win against each team's remaining schedule. In the case of the Giants, the formula determined that the Giants could be expected to win just 46.9 percent of their remaining eight games, a formula that would leave them short of .500. The same formula determined that an average team should have been expected to win 54.1 percent of the time against the Giants' first-half opponents.
For those who want to see the strength of schedule broken down strictly by opponents' won-loss records, it looks like this for the four NFC East teams.
|Team||Opponents' Wins||Opponents' Losses||Winning Pct.|
Judging purely from that table, it looks as if the Giants have the hardest remaining road over the second half of the season. It is nice, of course, to be in first place. Things would seem rosier, however, if the Giants had managed to hang on to one or two of those three games they have lost in the closing minutes.
The odds below are also from Football Outsiders.
|Team||W-L||WEI DVOA||Mean Wins||DIV||BYE||WC||TOT||CHANGE|
Most likely due, at least in part, to that difference in strength of schedule it seems most prognosticators believe it will be the Eagles and not the Giants who emerge as division winners. In Chris's power rankings, Team Rankings listed the Eagles with a 49.8 percent chance of winning the division and the Giants a 28.4 percent chance. NumberFire has the Eagles at 48.5 percent and the Giants 22.8. If you want to wager, Bovada has the Eagles at 7-5 to win the NFC East and the Giants at 3-2.
One person who does believe in the Giants is NFL.com writer Jeffri Chadiha, who picks the Giants to emerge as division champs:
The tempting option is the Cowboys, solely because they could heat up quickly with a healthy Romo. The realistic choice is New York. Right now the Giants have the best quarterback, and they easily could be 6-2 if they hadn't blown their first two games. Those two facts mean plenty in a division as weak as this. The G-Men certainly won't run away with it -- and their defense will continue to be a problem -- but there's more to like about New York than anyone else in the East.
Now, it's your turn. Will the Giants win the NFC East? Vote in the poll and let us know what you think.