EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - If the Giants played in any other division, their 1-4 record would've been enough to kill their season. But the NFC East is somehow keeping the Giants alive.
That's enough to give them some hope to cling to this week, as they prepare to face the defending Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. Those Eagles are experiencing a Super Bowl hangover at 2-3. They're tied for second with the offensively-challenged Dallas Cowboys, right behind the Washington Redskins, who came off their bye on Monday night to lose in New Orleans, 43-19.
In fact, all four teams lost this weekend. All four teams have an offense ranked in the bottom half of the league, and rank in the bottom 10 in scoring. And the Giants are the highest-scoring team in the division, even though they only average 20.8 points per game.
In other words, the division is a dumpster fire at the moment, and the Giants are only 1 ½ games out of first place. If they manage to knock off the Eagles at home on Thursday, they could be just ½ game out of first by the end of the weekend, assuming the Redskins lose to the Carolina Panthers and the Cowboys lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars - two things that seem pretty likely to occur.
"There's a big opportunity ahead of us to be able to kind of take control of our season, and be able to build from this, even after the bad we've had already," said Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. "We can overcome it all."
"It's just another indication - and I've been saying it all along - that you just keep playing," added Giants coach Pat Shurmur. "You never know. I think the last two times the Giants made (the playoffs) they were 9-7. We've just got to keep playing."
Of course, there's still a long way from 1-4 to 9-7, and there's no indication yet the Giants are capable of winning 8 of their final 11 games. A loss on Thursday night still has the potential to bury them.
But a win over the Eagles and a little help from the Panthers and Jaguars, and the entire perception of the Giants' season could change. Suddenly, they'd be actual contenders in a division that doesn't look very tough at all.
So, just in case they really get into the race, here's a look at the train wreck that is the NFC East:
Washington Redskins (2-2)
They looked like they had one of the NFL's best defenses through the first three weeks, especially when they held the Packers to 340 yards in a 31-17 Week 3 win. But the Saints shredded that myth Monday night (43 points, 447 yards). Of course, the Saints do that to a lot of teams.
A bigger concern in Washington might be that new QB Alex Smith hasn't clicked with the offense yet. He has just four touchdown passes through four games. Their offense right now is powered by 33-year-old running back Adrian Peterson, who had four carries for six yards against the Saints.
Next 3 games: vs. Carolina (3-1), vs. Dallas (2-3), at the Giants (1-4)
Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)
They have to still be considered the favorite, all things considered. Remember, Nick Foles started the first two games and played like Regular Nick Foles, not Super Bowl Nick Foles. Carson Wentz is back now and he's been pretty good through three games, completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 914 yards, five touchdowns and only one interception.
They just lost RB Jay Ajayi, which doesn't help even though he wasn't playing well this season. Now comes word they may try to get LeSean McCoy from the Bills? If they do, watch out. They're still dangerous if they can shake their Super Bowl hangover off.
Next 3 games: at Giants (1-4), vs. Carolina (3-1), at Jacksonville (3-2)
Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Everything seems like a struggle for the Cowboys right now, except for when Ezekiel Elliott has the ball. Dak Prescott doesn't have a top receiver to throw to - in fact Elliott (22-155) is his leading receiver. Next is Cole Beasley (17-193).
Unfortunately they don't have the offensive line anymore to just steamroll opponents (Prescott has been sacked 16 times). They do have a Top 10 defense, though, and that's going to keep them in a lot of games.
Next 3 games: vs. Jacksonville (3-2), at Washington (2-2), vs. Tennessee (3-2)
New York Giants (1-4)
It's hard to argue any team in this division has better offensive weapons than the Giants do, and yet they're only the NFC East's best offense by a fraction of a point. If their outburst Sunday was any indication of what they'll do the rest of the way, though, they really could get back in this.
Of course, they'll have to start playing better defense. They're one of the worst teams in the NFL against the run. And without Olivier Vernon, they haven't generated much of a pass rush (they only have six sacks).
Next 3 games: vs. Philadelphia (2-3), at Atlanta (1-4), vs. Washington (2-2).