At 5-2 and sitting on top of the NFC east, by all appearances the Giants seemed to be in very good shape. After all, Manning is having another All-Pro season and Victor Cruz is showing the football world that last season he wasn’t a one year wonder.
However, all is not well in Giants-ville as questions regarding the Giants remaining schedule (which is the toughest schedule in the NFC East) looms heavily on the team’s final outcome on the season.
The Giants have 5 road games and 4 home games remaining and there no easy opponent among them. Looking over the remaining 9 games, I believe that there are three major factors that will decide whether or not the Giants make the postseason.
Factor 1: NFC Division Rivals: Last season the Giants had a 3-3 record against their division rivals and squeaked into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. So far this season, the Giants are 1-2 within their division with 3 more games remaining each against the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins.
The worst case scenario for the Giants is to finish with a 3-3 record, similar to last season. I believe the Giants must have a 4-2 record if they want to make the postseason this year. So that means that they would need to win all the remaining games left to accomplish this. With the other six games against playoff caliber teams (Bengals, Falcons, Ravens, Packers, Steelers and even the Saints), there is no margin for errors.
Factor 2: Keep Eli Manning healthy should have been Factor 1, but I wanted a little suspense. Despite Manning currently holding the longest consecutive games played by an active player, he is one hit away from that streak ending. Simply stated, if Manning goes down, so does the Giants' season. Manning is without question the Giants' MVP and backup quarterback David Carr can’t and shouldn’t be expected to carry this team on his shoulders like Manning.
Factor 3: Staying healthy is a major ingredient for every team in the NFL and the Giants are no exception. Aside from Nicks' injury, there are no top 10 player on the Giants roster on the IR. Once Nicks returns (which is soon), the Giants will be relatively at full strength to make a run at another Super Bowl.