This year, Big Blue sits at 6-2 and in first place in the NFC East. Interesting, since after nine weeks last season, the Giants were 6-2 as well. And the year before you may ask? That’s right, 6-2.
However, four straight losses to tough teams evened the Giants’ record and forced the G-Men into a must-win situation every game down the stretch.
Starting this week against the Steelers, the Giants’ schedule doesn’t get any easier. They’ll head on the road to Cincinnati next week, then after their bye will play the Packers, Redskins, Saints, Falcons, Ravens and Eagles.
These teams, especially the NFC East division rivals, will be trying hard to unseat the reigning Super Bowl champions.
In Tom Coughlin’s nine seasons as head coach, the Giants have had a 6-2 record six times. But typically, the team has just managed to play .500 football or worse over the second half.
The Giants find themselves in a similar situation. In order to avoid a second half swoon, the Giants must continue to play strong football.
Eli Manning is on fire right now, but it would help if he had more of a rushing attack. If Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown have big games, it would take some of the focus of the Giants’ receivers, giving Manning more targets on the outside.
Without Chase Blackburn, the defense will get shaken up a bit, starting Mark Herzlich filling in at middle linebacker. The team’s defensive front has played better lately but nowhere near where it should be playing.
Manning has of course mastered winning games in the final two minutes, but that doesn’t always work. With a tough schedule, fast starts (and protecting those leads) will be key.
The Giants right now don’t have any divisional foe breathing down their neck, but in the NFL, a few bad games coupled with wins from division rivals can make things interesting.
At this point, playing .500 ball (4-4) would put the Giants at 10-6. The Eagles or Cowboys would have to go 7-2 over that same stretch against basically the same teams to tie for the division lead.
The Giants are in the driver’s seat, but again they must maintain their killer instinct to cement their spot in the playoffs.
Maybe some Giants’ fans would welcome the second half swoon, however. A 4-4 second half finish in 2007 led to a Super Bowl victory, and the same could be said for the 3-5 second half finish last year.
But still, the playoffs will be tense enough. Let’s hope the G-Men can cruise through the rest of season and be fresh for the playoffs.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.