<![CDATA[NBC New York - Giants]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/giants http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usSun, 30 Apr 2017 23:20:55 -0400Sun, 30 Apr 2017 23:20:55 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Ex-Jet Star Brandon Marshall Reaches 2-Year Deal With Giants]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 13:17:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/usa-brandon-marshall.jpg

Brandon Marshall won't have to move very far for his next team.

The wide receiver, released by the Jets just last week after a two-season stint with the team, has agreed to a $12 million, two-year deal with the Giants.

ESPN's Adam Schefter first tweeted news of the deal with Big Blue Wednesday morning as NFL free agency kicked into high gear; the Super Bowl-winning Giants share a stadium with the Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey. 

Marshall later tweeted a photo of the inked contract, writing simply, "Done Deal!!!! #GMEN." 

Marshall, who turns 33 on March 23, has never been to the playoffs in his 11 NFL seasons and had widely been expected to hook up with a team he considered to be a postseason contender.

The Giants returned to the playoffs last season after a five-year absence, but an improved defense and the addition of Marshall to the receiving corps that features global superstar Odell Beckham Jr. make them Super Bowl-ready.

Marshall played two seasons for the Jets and set franchise records with 109 catches and 1,502 yards receiving in 2015 while being voted the team's MVP by his teammates.

His production dropped dramatically last season, though, as he had just 59 receptions for 788 yards and three TDs while dealing with a few injuries and inconsistent quarterback play.

Marshall has also previously played for Denver, Miami and Chicago, which traded him and a seventh-round draft pick to New York in 2015 for a fifth-rounder.



Photo Credit: CSNPhilly.com
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<![CDATA[Giants Release Fan Favorite Victor Cruz]]> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 15:34:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_victor_cruz_dep_470_265.jpg

The Giants are releasing fan favorite Victor Cruz after seven years with the team, NBC 4 New York has confirmed.

The move had been widely anticipated to free up $7.5 million in cap room, but nonetheless prompted an avalanche of sadness on social media from fans who grew to love the receiver who famously did the salsa dance in the end zone every time he scored a touchdown. 

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The 30-year-old undrafted receiver rose from virtual anonymity to global superstar when he hauled in 82 receptions for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns during the 2011 season, which ended with a Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots. He followed that up with a 10-touchdown, 1,000-yard campaign the next year. 

Injuries sidelined the Paterson, New Jersey, native for 26 straight games from 2014 to 2015. Cruz returned for the Giants' opener against Dallas in September, scoring the game-winning touchdown and, yes, celebrating with an end zone salsa dance, in that matchup. 

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Cruz finished this past season with 39 receptions for 586 yards and that lone score. He played college ball at the University of Massachusetts.

He thanked supporters in an Instagram post Monday. 

"No long paragraph for all to read, just simply THANK YOU!" Cruz wrote. "To the @nygiants organization and to the amazing fans that have watched me grow up in front of their eyes. THANK YOU!!"

The team also cut running back Rashad Jennings, who earned most of his 3,772 career rushing yards and 25 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Giants.

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<![CDATA[Oddsmakers Predict Jets, Giants 2018 Super Bowl Chances]]> Mon, 06 Feb 2017 15:30:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mcadoo+bowles.jpg

As the confetti rains down on the New England Patriots after a stunning Super Bowl comeback victory, New York Jets and Giants fans are likely asking themselves about whether or not their team has a chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis next season.

Unfortunately, Las Vegas isn’t very bullish on the Jets’ chances of a title. The Giants, of course, stand a better shot.

According to R.J. Bell, an odds expert for the Associated Press, Gang Green has the second-worst odds of winning the title next year, with their chances standing at 150-to-1 heading into the offseason. The Los Angeles Rams also have a 150-to-1 shot, according to Bell. Only the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers (400-to-1) have a worse chance of winning the big game.

The Giants are tied with the Kansas Chief Chiefs with a 20-to-1 shot, giving them the ninth best chance of hoisting the trophy. 

Things aren’t much better for the Jets in the eyes of European oddsmakers. The Patriots are the favorites to win the title, with the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Seattle Seahawks close behind, but the Jets are way down the list, with their +12,000 chances only better than the Chicago Bears (+15,000) 49ers (+20,000) and the Browns (+25,000).

According to the European oddsmakers, the Giants have the 10th best shot at winning the Super Bowl in 2018, tied with the Denver Broncos (+2.500). 

Even with all of that negativity surrounding the chances of Todd Bowles' crew, there is still reason for optimism for Jets fans. They have the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. Of course, what they do with it is another story. 

As for the Giants, they did make it the playoffs after a slow start to the season. And while Tom Brady may be relishing his historic win today, we all know there's one face he really doesn't want to see in a Super Bowl: Eli Manning.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants' Loss to Packers Was a Total Team Effort]]> Mon, 09 Jan 2017 11:25:54 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/giants-packers-0108.jpg

It’s often said by coaches and players that “you win as a team and you lose as a team.” Usually that’s just a quick, convenient way to assuage a media member who is looking to assign blame, while at the same time not throwing anyone in particular under the bus. 

In the case of the Giants’ 38-13 playoff loss to the Packers, it truly was a team loss. There were failures across the board: preparation, game plan, in-game coaching, execution, focus; you name it. 

Some who write about this team said Eli Manning would be the deciding factor. If he did well -- or well enough, anyway -- the team’s defense would carry the day. 

Well, so much for that. Eli and Robbie Gould were among the few players who seemed to show up -- maybe because they’d been in the playoffs before while so many of these guys (including a rookie head coach) seemed shaken by the stage. 

Let’s hand out the participation trophies to the Giants for making the team’s defeat in Green Bay a true team loss. 

Head coach Ben McAdoo. Down 7-6 in the second quarter, the Giants had a third and 1 on their own 41 coming out of the two-minute warning. McAdoo checked his iconic play-call menu and dialed up 212-pound running back Bobby Rainey to get the much needed yard. Bobby Rainey. Not Paul Perkins, who started last week and had more than 100 yards rushing. Not Rashad Jennings, who is considered the team’s big back. Nope, Bobby Rainey, who to the surprise of no one did not get the needed yard. 

The Giants punted and Green Bay got the ball back with 1:46 left and no timeouts. 

Secondary. Listen, losing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a leg bruise early in the game was a definite killer to the Giants. Aaron Rodgers was just picking on DRC’s replacements all game. But the game undeniably turned on the Packers’ Hail Mary touchdown pass from Rodgers to Randall Cobb at the end of the first half. Somehow Cobb got behind the Giants’ secondary and caught the ball right along the end line. It was an absolute gut punch and put the Giants -- who moments earlier were ahead 6-0 and dominating the game –- down 14-6 heading into the half, with Green Bay set to receive the second-half kickoff. 

Defensive line. The Giants sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, the last coming with 14:10 left in the third quarter. With the secondary playing at less than full strength, Big Blue desperately needed Snacks Harrison and Olivier Vernon to make game-changing plays and put Rodgers on his back. Instead the Packers’ stellar offensive line won the game in the trenches and Rodgers seemed to have all day to pass in the second half as Green Bay pulled away. 

Running backs. The game was already well in hand, but probably no play was more emblematic of the Giants’ lack of focus than Perkins’ mind cramp on the Manning fumble. Clay Matthews knocked the ball out of Manning’s hand and Perkins treated it like a radioactive restaurant check. He obviously thought it was an incomplete pass; but that’s no excuse not to pick it up anyway, just to be sure. 

Instead, Matthews hustled to the ball, shoved Perkins out of the way and made the recovery. 

Wide receivers. Whoa boy, four of these guys –- Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz and Roger Lewis -- are going to get roasted by fans and the media for the next six months, thanks largely to their off-day trip to Miami to party with Justin Bieber. Know which receiver wasn’t there? Tavarres King, who accounted for the Giants’ only touchdown in the loss to Green Bay. 

Beckham dropped three passes, including a touchdown and two third-down conversions. After the game, he reportedly punched a hole in the wall inside Lambeau Field, cursed out a Packers employee and was sobbing uncontrollably in the locker room. The diva act is now three years old and not aging well. 

Special teams. Bobby Rainey probably had a game he would like to forget. Not only did he fail to convert that third and 1 in the second quarter (which he should never have been asked to handle), but he pinned the Giants deep in their own territory right after the Packers took a 21-13 lead -- fielding a kickoff at the 3-yard line and promptly falling out of bounds. 

Guh. 

The Giants went three and out and the Packers took the ensuing punt back 23 yards to the Giants’ 37. Five plays later, Mason Crosby kicked a 32-yard field goal and the lead was 24-13. It was all downhill from there for the Giants. 

Offensive line. Keeping with the theme of team-wide incompetence, the Giants opened their next drive with a false start by Marshall Newhouse –- just the latest drive undermined by the line’s offensive struggles. 

Left tackle Ereck Flowers opened the team’s second drive of the first quarter with a false start. Later in the second quarter, with the Giants still in control and ahead 6-0, Flowers was a statue as Julius Peppers blew by him for a sack on third down deep in Giants territory. On the first Green Bay play after the punt, Rodgers hit Davante Adams on a 31-yard pass that put Green Bay at the Giants’ 7-yard line. 

Just like that, the momentum swung to Green Bay. The Giants would make it 14-13 in the second half –- thanks to non-yachter, Tavarres King -– but the team could not overcome the many failures in just about every facet of the game. 

The Giants had a great regular season, but they have a lot of issues to address in the offseason. Namely, on offense. 

It’s going to be a long offseason for Big Blue. I recommend the team get some rest and relaxation. Granted, some of them already got a head start.

]]>
<![CDATA[Beck Bullish on Big Blue]]> Sun, 08 Jan 2017 12:20:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GiantsPack1009.jpg

Giants 24 Packers 20

Here we are again - back at hallowed Lambeau Field in Green Bay, for a playoff game. And the Giants are hoping for the same result that they enjoyed in 2007 and 2011. A matter of fact, Eli Manning has as many playoff wins here as "the Pack's" superstar Quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.  

It is the vaunted Packers offense against the Giants tenacious defense. What a match-up on the "frozen tundra!"

I think Odell Beckham Jr. will have a huge game. Number one: three of Green Bay's cornerbacks are doubtful or out. Number two: the electrifying wide receiver has been waiting for his first chance to shine in the playoffs since he was drafted three years ago. I don't think the Packers have an answer for Beckham. It wouldn't be shocked if he gains close to 200 yards all-around -- and scores two touchdowns.

I think Giants rookie running back Paul Perkins will run effectively. It wouldn't surprise me if he picks up 75 to 100 yards in this game. He had 102 last week against Washington.

I really think this brilliant Giants secondary will be able to hold their own against Rodgers, who has not thrown an interception in his last 245 passes. I think that streak ends today. Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are the ones who are capable of that big pick. Maybe the defense even scores a touchdown.

But the key to this game is Eli Manning playing mistake-free football. If he can do that or keep his turnovers to a bare minimum, I think Big Blue is going to Dallas next Sunday.

I pick the Giants - "The Road Warriors," 24-20! 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[For Playoff Success, Eli Manning Must Mirror Big Brother]]> Sat, 07 Jan 2017 15:32:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/usa-eli-manning-odell-beckham-giants.jpg

Amazingly enough, we could be looking at a second straight postseason where a Manning is seen as a team’s most glaring weakness.

Last year, Peyton Manning was ranked 28th in ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (Total QBR). In three playoff games, he completed just 55.4 percent of his passes. He had two touchdown passes, one interception and two lost fumbles. Since Denver's defense was so good (and Manning wasn’t completely terrible), the Broncos were able to win the Super Bowl.

That’s what the Giants need his brother, Eli, to remember: don’t be terrible. You don’t have to be great, which he hasn’t been, but don’t be the reason your team loses.

The Giants' defense has been stellar, with first team All-Pros Snacks Harrison and Landon Collins, second-team All-Pros Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and surprisingly, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, despite Eli Apple starting at cornerback. Though Sunday's matchup against Aaron Rodgers and his stable of wideouts will be center stage, Eli Manning will be the player who makes or breaks this game.

Manning never disappears in big games, which can cut both ways. He’s either going to thread throws to Odell Beckham Jr. and the other party-hard receivers who also spent Monday night in Miami, or he’s going to chuck wounded fowls that will be intercepted.

Aaron Rodgers is ranked 4th, while Manning is ranked 27th in QBR. His days of regularly throwing deep passes are long gone. The Giants' offense is largely predicated on hitting Beckham on quick slants and hoping he can take it to the house. That’s not much of a game plan, which explains why Big Blue hasn’t scored more than 20 points on offense in the last five games.

When these two teams faced off in Week 5, Manning was dreadful, completing only 18 of 35 passes for 199 yards. But that was a long time ago. Eddie Lacy is no longer Green Bay's lead back, a role now filled by converted wideout Ty Montgomery.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ two leading rushers in that game were Bobby Rainey (22 yards) and Orleans Darkwa (11 yards). The big dog now is rookie Paul Perkins, who surpassed 100 rushing yards last week and signaled the possibility that New York’s offense might be able to expand beyond Manning on a slant to OBJ.

This game has all the makings of a postseason classic: two storied franchises playing in frigid conditions, led by two quarterbacks who have won three Super Bowls between them. Manning has the upper hand in that category, but Rodgers is the one in this year's MVP discussion.

Manning doesn’t have to be the Giants’ MVP in order for New York to pull off the victory in Green Bay. He just can’t be the Packers’ most valuable player.

Prediction: Giants 19, Packers 14



Photo Credit: CSNPhilly.com]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Wide Receiver Beckham Goes Undercover as Cabbie]]> Thu, 05 Jan 2017 23:50:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/usa-odell-beckham-giants.jpg

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. appears to be trying out for a new position this playoff season: Lyft driver.

In a promotional campaign video posted online by the rideshare company, Beckham goes undercover and gives rides to unsuspecting fans around the New York area. 

Beckham talks with his passengers about football and even asks one rider if he had ever been to Houston.

"I'm trying to get there in February," Beckham said, referring to the upcoming Super Bowl.

Beckham joked about himself throughout the ride and even took calls from his mom.

None of the passengers recognized him until he took off his beanie to reveal his signature hairstyle. One rider still didn't know who he was, saying that his hair "kinda looks like ramen noodles." 



Photo Credit: CSNPhilly.com
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<![CDATA[Giants Win Over Redskins Sets up Post-Season Preview]]> Mon, 02 Jan 2017 16:39:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/630776848.jpg

The Giants’ 19-10 victory over Washington was filled with the unexpected, a nice preview of what we can anticipate as New York heads to the playoffs and Washington heads home. Just consider the following unexpected developments and what it says about the Giants, Washington and what remains of the season (for at least one of these teams).

  • Eli Manning played the entire game, even though the Giants had nothing to gain by winning the contest. Not saying Josh Johnson should have gotten some run, but it still seemed likely he’d see some snaps, not least because the Giants put Odell Beckham on ice early in the third quarter after Washington cornerback Josh Norman (or JNo, as he likes to call himself) drew two personal foul penalties after proving he’s incapable of playing Beckham straight up. Beckham is more valuable than Manning, the guy who has large, thundering mammals running at him on every play? Why pull Beckham and not pull Manning or many of the players on defense? You can applaud head coach Ben McAdoo for remaining aggressive in his game-planning -- * golf clap * -- but it’s the inconsistency of applied philosophy that is head-scratching.
  • Rookie Paul Perkins rushed for more than 100 yards (21 carries, 102 yards) in his first start of the season. Not unexpected? That Rashad Jennings still got nearly as many carries (18) and about half as many yards (52 yards).
  • With everything to play for, Washington’s No. 3 offense came out flat. They totaled fewer than 300 yards (282) for just the second time this season, had the fewest rushing yards on the year (38) and the lowest point total (10). And this was a home game, no less. Washington earlier this year had handed the Giants their only home loss of the year. Now they couldn’t win at home with a playoff bid on the line against a bitter rival that was basically just trying to get reps as a warmup for the playoffs.
  • The Giants failed to score 20 points for the fifth game in a row against a middling defense. The Giants are 3-2 in those games. If they can beat Green Bay on the road next week and do it without scoring 20 points, I’ll buy Little Ben McAdoo a gift certificate to Arby’s.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie earned a $500,000 bonus for the first of his two interceptions against Kirk Cousins. A $500,000 bonus. For one play. I’m trying to process how damn excited I’d be if a bonus incentive kicked in like that in a single moment. Pretty sure I’ve keel over with joy. Congrats, DRC.

The Giants’ 19-10 victory over Washington was filled with the unexpected, a nice preview of what we can anticipate as New York heads to the playoffs and Washington heads home. Just consider the following unexpected developments and what it says about the Giants, Washington and what remains of the season (for at least one of these teams).

·         Eli Manning played the entire game, even though the Giants had nothing to gain by winning the contest. Not saying Josh Johnson should have gotten some run, but it still seemed likely he’d see some snaps, not least because the Giants put Odell Beckham on ice early in the third quarter after Washington cornerback Josh Norman (or JNo, as he likes to call himself) drew two personal foul penalties after proving he’s incapable of playing Beckham straight up. Beckham is more valuable than Manning, the guy who has large, thundering mammals running at him on every play? Why pull Beckham and not pull Manning or many of the players on defense? You can applaud head coach Ben McAdoo for remaining aggressive in his game-planning -- * golf clap * -- but it’s the inconsistency of applied philosophy that is head-scratching.

·         Rookie Paul Perkins rushed for more than 100 yards (21 carries, 102 yards) in his first start of the season. Not unexpected? That Rashad Jennings still got nearly as many carries (18) and about half as many yards (52 yards).

·         With everything to play for, Washington’s No. 3 offense came out flat. They totaled fewer than 300 yards (282) for just the second time this season, had the fewest rushing yards on the year (38) and the lowest point total (10). And this was a home game, no less. Washington earlier this year had handed the Giants their only home loss of the year. Now they couldn’t win at home with a playoff bid on the line against a bitter rival that was basically just trying to get reps as a warmup for the playoffs.

·         The Giants failed to score 20 points for the fifth game in a row against a middling defense. The Giants are 3-2 in those games. If they can beat Green Bay on the road next week and do it without scoring 20 points, I’ll buy Little Ben McAdoo a gift certificate to Arby’s.

·         Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie earned a $500,000 bonus for the first of his two interceptions against Kirk Cousins. A $500,000 bonus. For one play. I’m trying to process how damn excited I’d be if a bonus incentive kicked in like that in a single moment. Pretty sure I’ve keel over with joy. Congrats, DRC.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Should Go for the Kill Against Washington]]> Fri, 30 Dec 2016 16:33:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Redskins+Giants+0925.jpg

Former Giants tight end and current commentator Howard Cross said this week that the preoccupation with resting starters in Week 17 was a product of the media. He said players, coaches and general managers don’t fixate on the perceived importance of protecting players from possible injury. It’s the media who make it an issue.

I don’t think it’d be possible to thoroughly track the genesis of this fixation and whether it stemmed from teams or the media; but it’s obvious the fixation is juvenile and – dare I say it – kind of wimpy. For all the handwringing we have seen over the years about whether teams should rest players for the postseason – an exercise we seemed to go through yearly with the Peyton Manning-era Colts – I can’t recall a single influential player who was significantly injured in a Week 17 game to seriously hamper his team’s postseason aspirations.

I might be wrong (because that happens a lot), but no player comes to mind. Not a single one. Sure, David Carr of the Raiders broke his leg last week and will likely miss the entire postseason, but that was in a meaningful Week 16 game as Oakland continues to fight for its postseason seeding.

Some Giants fans believe the team should rest its starters this week. Get real. You want the team to rest Eli Manning, the most durable QB in the NFL, and go with Josh Johnson? No. Because what happens in the more likely event that Josh Johnson gets hurt? Do you then put in Manning? The bottom line: you don’t play scared. Sure, you don’t want to leave guys out there if they’re dinged up or if the game is out of hand. But you can’t put your starters in bubble wrap. Besides, I have no interest in watching backups.

The Giants would seem to have nothing to play for in this week’s game against the Redskins. New York is locked in as the No. 5 seed and will have to go on the road to play at Green Bay, Detroit, Atlanta or Seattle. That said, the Redskins have everything to play for. They need to win and to get some help from others to reach the playoffs. In short, the Giants could just step on Washington’s throat. You don’t think Odell Beckham wants to send Josh Norman home for the postseason? Count on it.

A lot has changed since these two divisional rivals squared off at MetLife Stadium in September, when Washington won 29-27 to hand the Giants their only home loss of the season.

Then: The Giants came into the game undefeated (2-0) and Washington came into the game winless (0-2).

Now: New York is going to the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and Washington is 8-6-1 with a decent chance of reaching the postseason again.

Then: The Giants had 118 yards in penalties, center Weston Richburg got thrown out of the game, Odell Beckham was literally crying on the sideline at the end of the game, and a frustrated Beckham threw his helmet into the kicking net.

Now: Beckham and the Giants have been relatively disciplined and Beckham has thankfully stopped using the kicking net as a prop.

Then: The game basically ended when Eli Manning threw his second fourth quarter interception.

Now: We still see glimpse of bad Eli from time to time.

Then: Orleans Darkwa scored on a 2-yard run.

Now:  Darkwa has been on injured reserve since the end of November and has probably played his last game as a Giant.

Then: Olivier Vernon registered his first sack of the season.

Now: Vernon has totally lived up to the huge free agent contract he signed last offseason.

Then: Most people figured the Giants’ offense would be great and the defense would be mediocre.

Now: The Giants’ defense has allowed the fewest touchdown in the NFL (24) and the offense has been inconsistent all season.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stats Are Misleading as Giants Face Eagles for Playoff Berth]]> Wed, 21 Dec 2016 13:31:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/usa-eli-manning-odell-beckham-giants.jpg

Earlier this season, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said "statistics are for losers." If this were baseball, his anti-saber comment would have been derided by a large segment of beat writers and game observers. But this is football, and a lot of statistics (that would seem to predict a team's wins and losses) are actually useless predictors. 

In advance of Thursday’s matchup between the 10-4 Giants, who can clinch a playoff spot with a victory, and the 5-9 Eagles, who have been eliminated from postseason competition, let’s look at some of the following stats and try to guess which of these two teams it describes. 

This team leads the NFL in time of possession (32:29) and second-half time of possession (17:07), which would seem to reflect a winning team that is trying to run the ball and protect its leads in the second half. 

This team leads the NFL in average starting field position after kickoff (27.9), as well as in opponent starting field position after kickoff (22.4), which would seem to reflect a team with great special teams. 

This team has registered the NFL’s fourth-lowest percentage of three-and-outs (17.4 percent), behind only offensive juggernauts like Washington, Atlanta and New Orleans. 

This team ranks fifth in the NFL in red zone efficiency (47.7 percent), behind only, um, the Giants, Panthers, Steelers and Colts. 

So, yeah, this is a team that controls the ball, consistently starts drives with great field position (while pinning its opponents relatively deep), sustains its offensive drives better than 87.5 percent of teams, and has one of the best red zone defenses in the NFL. 

Yeah, that all describes the Eagles, who have lost five straight games after starting out the season 3-0. 

All those stats are courtesy of the game notes provided by the Eagles’ media relations team. And they highlight how little we can really glean from many statistics that would seem to be positive indicators. 

Frankly, in a late-season NFC East matchup at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, you can pretty much throw the stats out the window anyway. The Giants have everything to play for. The Eagles are a battered animal playing for pride and the opportunity to screw things up for a hated opponent. This one will be frothy. 

Statistics aside, here are some things we should and should not look for in this matchup. 

Look for: Victor Cruz to return to the spot on the field where he suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action for nearly two years. 

Don’t look for: Cruz to catch his second touchdown of the year and his first since the season opener. 

Look for: the Giants to continue splitting carries between Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins. 

Don’t look for: commentators to discuss McAdoo’s brilliant offensive play-calling. 

Look for: the return of Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson, who is coming off a 10-game PED suspension. 

Don’t look for: Giants defensive end Romeo Okwara to have much success rushing the quarterback against Johnson. 

Look for: how well McAdoo is communicating the plays to Eli Manning. 

Don’t look for: the Giants to illegally use a walkie talkie again after doing so when headset communication failed during last week’s game against the Lions. 

Look for: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to step in capably if Pro Bowl cornerback Janoris Jenkins is not able to go because of a back injury sustained in last week’s game.

Don’t look for: the Eagles’ mediocre receivers to threaten anyone deep. 

Look for: the Eagles and Carson Wentz to throw screens and swing passes to Darren Sproles in an effort to get the team’s lone home-run hitter into space against the Giants’ lackluster linebackers. 

Don’t look for: game-changing plays from Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kinnard, Kelvin Sheppard or Keenan Robinson. 

Look for: Manning to hook up with Odell Beckham Jr. for at least one touchdown, as that’s about the only offense the Giants can seem to generate these days. 

Don’t look for: Beckham to jump into the discussion for NFL MVP, even though it’s hard to imagine a player being more valuable to his team.



Photo Credit: CSNPhilly.com]]>
<![CDATA[Top NYC Bars for Giants, Eagles Fans This TNF]]> Wed, 21 Dec 2016 13:21:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/usa-odell-beckham-leodis-mckelvin-giants-eagles.jpg

It's Week 16 of the NFL season and the final Thursday Night Football game of the year. The New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles are getting ready to rumble. Who will score the winning touchdown? Whether you're rooting for the Giants or the Eagles, here are the top bars to visit on game day.

Hudson Common at the Hudson, 356 W 58th St., is the perfect beer hall for Giants fans looking for a delicious dinner spot. Hudson Common gives diners a choice between 16 different types of locally brewed beers and a wide variety of "common" and "Uncommon" interpretations of burgers, sandwiches and fries.

Turtle Bay NYC, 987 2nd Ave., houses the best Philadelphia Eagles parties for New York fans or you can host your own Eagles party on their balcony which accommodates up to 50 people. Turtle Bay NYC is the top Eagles headquarters serving up $20 all-you-can-eat wings and all-you-can-drink draft beers along with a special Philly-style menu featuring cheesesteaks.

Bronx Alehouse, 216 W 238th St., is a Giants pub for fans to watch the game on either of the 12 flat screens or a projector. Fans can also join the Beer Club and receive half off drinks on Wednesdays when they try 100 types of beer.

Wogie’s Bar and Grill, 39 Greenwich Ave., is not only a great bar for Eagles fans, it’s also the spot to try six different types of cheesesteaks including the Pizza Steak Sandwich. Wogie’s is the perfect place to make any Philadelphia native feel right at home.

Mercury Bar, 659 Ninth Ave., is the place for Giants fans looking for cheap drinks. Mercury Bar has all-day happy hour every Sunday!

Shorty’s, 62 Pearl St., gives other Philly themed bars a run for their money with their authentic Philly cheesesteaks made with fresh bread transported straight from Philadelphia, “the city of brotherly love.” The Pearl Street location is just one of the four locations that offers $4 pints, $13 pitchers Yuengling and $5 craft cans during all Eagles games.



Photo Credit: Dave Zangaro | CSNPhilly.com]]>
<![CDATA[Jenkins Is the Hero as Giants Beat Dallas 10-7]]> Mon, 12 Dec 2016 17:04:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/odell+beckham+jr_EDIT.jpg

The Giants defeated the Cowboys for the second time with Sunday’s lackluster 10-7 victory, raising their record to 9-4 and leaving Dallas fans with the uneasy feeling that Big Blue is eventually going to end the Cowboys’ season. 

Two losses for Dallas on the year -- both to the Giants, who last week looked like a middle school team -- say the Rams? -- in getting steamrolled by the Steelers. The Giants’ offense was largely MIA again in Sunday’s win over Dallas, with Eli Manning tossing for fewer than 200 yards for the third straight game and Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins matching each other for mediocrity -- both with 15 carries for 45 yards. Luckily for the Giants, the team also has a defense -- and it’s really good -- because the offense is really playing uninspired ball. 

There were plenty of heroics, insanity and ineptitude in this game, so let’s hand out the honors for Hero, Nero and Zero. 

Hero: Janoris Jenkins. 

A few weeks ago after the Giants beat Cleveland -- a game in which former quarterback Terrelle Pryor had six catches for 131 yards in the Browns’ loss -- Jenkins wrote in a postgame tweet that Pryor sucks and only had a great outing because the Giants were playing zone. 

It was ugly, juvenile and cringe-worthy. 

After Sunday night’s defeat of Dallas -- a game in which Jenkins had an interception and stripped Dez Bryant of the game-deciding fumble --Jackrabbit kept his opinions of the opposition to himself. 

Olivier Vernon has been getting most of the press lately among the Giants’ big free agent additions, but Jenkins was the biggest difference maker in the close victory over the Cowboys. 

Nero: Ben McAdoo. 

Mike Sullivan is the Giants’ offensive coordinator. Ya know what that job entails? Neither do I, since head coach Ben McAdoo continues to call the plays off his laminated Arby’s menu. It’d be one thing if the Giants’ offense was doing as well as it was last year when McAdoo was offensive coordinator and calling the plays for Tom Coughlin’s team. 

But they’re not. 

The offense is ranked 27th overall and only ahead of offenses led by the likes of Brock Osweiler, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Sam Bradford and Jared Goff. Their only reliable weapon is Odell Beckham Jr., who caught a 61-yard touchdown in the win over Dallas. 

The team has a Super Bowl-level defense, as it proved in picking off Dak Prescott twice, forcing the game-deciding fumble by Bryant and holding Dallas -- the fifth best offense in the NFL -- to a a season-low seven points. The offense has the potential to be as good as last year’s. But it also has the potential to be bad enough to keep this team from postseason success. 

McAdoo needs to swallow his pride and hand the playcalling duties over to Sullivan. Enough is enough. You're hurting your team. 

Zero: Faith in Ereck Flowers. 

Right after McAdoo fires himself as offensive coordinator, he needs to fire Ereck Flowers as starting left tackle. Let’s face it, the guy is struggling. I’m sure he’s a nice person and all (when he’s not shoving ESPN reporters), but Flowers has been terrible this year. He’s among the league leaders in holding penalties and in the Dallas game allowed Benson Mayowa to run right around him to strip Manning for a fumble that Dallas recovered. 



Photo Credit: Jim Mone]]>
<![CDATA[Much Has Changed Since Giants Beat Cowboys in Week One]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 10:59:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_16330088209607.jpg

The Giants (8-4) host the first-place Cowboys (11-1) in a key game for Big Blue on Sunday Night Football on NBC. A lot has changed since Week One when New York traveled to Dallas and handed the Cowboys their only loss of the season. Let’s look at how things stood Then and how they stand Now as a preview of this important NFC East matchup. 

Then: A lot of people assumed the Cowboys were doomed after Tony Romo went down with a back injury in the preseason and Dallas had to pin its hopes on a rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott, and a rookie running back, Ezekiel Elliot. 

Now: No one, not even Romo, says he should get his job back now that he’s healthy. 

Then: In his first game played after missing nearly two years with injuries, Victor Cruz caught the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Giants’ 20-19 victory. 

Now: Cruz hasn’t caught another touchdown since and in last week’s game against Pittsburgh he had zero targets.

Then: The Giants came into the season with high expectations for their offense, which was returning its entire offensive line, had Cruz returning from injury, and added rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard. 

Now: The offense has been inconsistent all season and head coach Ben McAdoo refuses to relinquish play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. 

Then: An offensive coordinator typically calls the team’s offensive plays, because otherwise what the hell is the use in having one? 

Now: We ask the same question. 

Then: The Giants were eager to see if high-priced free agent additions Olivier Vernon, Snacks Harrison and Janoris Jenkins would improve a defense that ranked last in the NFL in 2015. 

Now: The Giants have definitely gotten their money’s worth, as the new faces –- especially Vernon, who is among the league leaders in defensive pressures -– have rejuvenated a defense that has often kept the team in games that the offense is incapable of taking over. 

Then: The game ended when Terrance Williams pulled a boner on the game’s last play, cutting upfield and not heading out of bounds. The Cowboys had no timeouts remaining and the clock expired. 

Now: People have largely forgotten Williams’ gaffe. 

Then: Dez Bryant only had one catch for 8 yards. 

Now: Bryant has 37 catches for 634 yards and six touchdowns on the season, squelching any doubts that he is still the Cowboys’ best wide receiver. 

Then: Jason Witten was starting in like his 1,000th straight game. 

Now: He’s shaking his head continually in those poorly edited NFL Shop commercials. 

Then: Greg Hardy was wondering why no one wanted to sign him. 

Now: He’s wondering why no one believes him when he says the cocaine found in his wallet during a traffic stop had to be planted there by someone when he was passing his wallet around at a party. 

Then: The Giants (1-0) were in first place after beating the Cowboys. 

Now: The Giants trail Dallas by three games and have little hope of catching them in the NFC East. 

Then: No one expected the Cowboys to be very good. 

Now: They’re the NFC favorites to reach the Super Bowl. 

Then: Randy Bullock was the Giants’ kicker while Josh Brown served a one-game suspension for domestic violence-related issues. 

Now: Bullock kicked for the Steelers in last week’s win over the Giants and Brown is out of the league. 

Then: The Giants held Elliott to 51 yards on 21 carries for a 2.5 YPC average. 

Now: Elliott hasn’t had fewer than 83 yards rushing in any game since and leads the NFL with 1,285 yards on the ground, nearly 250 yards more than the next highest rusher (former Cowboy DeMarco Murray, 1,043). 

Then: Most of the talk about Dallas was about Prescott and Elliott, with less attention paid to the Cowboys’ awesome offensive line. 

Now: Not much has changed.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants' Offense a Sluggish Mess in Loss to Steelers]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 11:12:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-627708408.jpg

If Rashad Jennings is your second-leading receiver and has as many catches (6) as rushing attempts (6 for 19 yards), you’ve probably drawn up a blueprint for failure. As fate would have it, that’s actually what the Giants did in dropping a 24-14 contest to Pittsburgh, snapping their six-game win streak and announcing to the rest of the NFL that they’re not yet Super Bowl contenders. 

The beginning of the game played out like a bad joke. I’d said previously that the Giants needed to stop opening games with dives up the middle and swing passes with Jennings. So what did they do on the first two plays? *Sigh* 

Sure, Eli Manning made a heady move on the third play, shoveling to Jennings as the pocket collapsed, with Jennings running 20 yards. Little did we know that was going to be the Giants second-longest play of the day and Manning’s last great individual effort. Let’s face it, Eli (24 of 39 for 195 yards, two TDs and two INTs) was awful and seemed incapable of looking to anyone but Odell Beckham (10 catches for 100 yards). 

As you’d expect, Beckham led the Giants in targets (16). What you wouldn’t expect (or hope for) is that he’d have twice as many targets as the next most-targeted receiver (Sterling Shepard, 8) or that Victor Cruz would have zero targets or that you’d throw in the direction of Larry Donnell (yeah, he’s apparently back in the mix) down near the goal line. 

That pass (which, if completed, would have put the Giants ahead 6-5 in, uh, the second inning) was intercepted by Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons and returned 58 yards to the Giants’ 40 yard line, extinguishing a 12-play drive. Three plays later, Ben Roethlisberger (24 of 36, 289 yards, two TDs, one INT) threw to the back of the end zone, where Antonio Brown made a balletic 22-yard touchdown grab to put Pittsburgh ahead 11-0. 

After Brown scored, the camera panned to the Giants’ sideline where Beckham was smiling widely, acting of course as if the game were all about the two of them. 

But really, can you blame him? Manning seemed unwilling to look elsewhere. The offensive game plan was predictable and largely uninspired. The defense, meanwhile, played relatively well. Yes, the defense gave up 118 yards on the ground to Le’Veon Bell –- the first 100-yard rusher the squad has allowed all year. And yes, Landon Collins made perhaps his first big gaffe of the season in letting Steelers tight end Ladarius Green slip past him for a 20-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, which put Pittsburgh up 21-7. 

But the defense was put on its heels early thanks to the Giants’ offense: a holding penalty in the end zone on the Human Stickum Ereck Flowers (who leads the league in holding penalties) negated a first down pass to Beckham and instead gave the Steelers a 2-0 lead; then the Manning-toward-Donnell disaster flipped the field on the Giants. 

Frankly, if it weren’t for individual efforts by Olivier Vernon (two sacks) and Eli Apple (an INT and a fumble recovery), the Giants would have gotten beaten much worse. 

The Giants (8-4) are now three full games behind Dallas, whom they will face next Sunday in a game that has already been flexed to the evening slot on NBC. Hopefully this game against Pittsburgh served as a wake-up call (particularly to the coaches and Eli Manning). Get somebody other than Beckham involved. And for heaven’s sake, stop opening the game by trying to establish Rashad Jennings!



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants vs. Steelers Could Be a Super Bowl Preview]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:54:13 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Brown-Steelers-v-Colts-AP.jpg

This week’s game between the Giants and the Steelers could be a Super Bowl preview between two teams with similar DNA on both sides of the ball -- or it could simply be a game between two teams with great potential who will end up missing the playoffs. 

Does that seem crazy? If so, which part? 

The 8-3 Giants are riding high on a five-game winning streak, but this is their remaining schedule: @Steelers, Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins. 

In short, the Giants could very well be 8-8 on New Year’s Day and on the outside looking in when the playoffs start. Am I being pessimistic? No, I’m being realistic. The combined records of their next five opponents is 35-20, and three of those teams -- Cowboys, Lions, Steelers -- currently sit in first place in their divisions. The remaining two opponents are divisional rivals who will either still be playing for their own playoff berths in the last two weeks or will at the very least desperately want to screw things up for the Giants. 

But first things first: Pittsburgh. 

The Steelers are what the Giants would be if they ever took the governor off their offense and let things ride. Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown is always looking to go deep, no matter the situation. Third and two? Good bet they’re going deep. Fourth and short? Same thing. Contrast that with avowed aggressor Ben McAdoo, who says the Giants are always looking to attack and then punts on fourth and short in Cleveland territory in the first quarter last week. 

If Brad Wing or Robbie Gould feature prominently for New York this week, the Giants are going to lose by 100. 

Luckily for New York, the Steelers’ defense reminds no one of the 1990s Blitzburgh crew. There are holes throughout this defense, including the huge one Ezekiel Elliott ran through in lifting Dallas to a come-from-behind victory in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. 

Like the Giants, Pittsburgh has the kind of offense that looks unstoppable at times. Want to play safety deep to keep Brown from going over the top? The Steelers can counter with the versatile Le’Veon Bell, the league’s best running back when he’s not serving suspensions for smoking pot. 

Pittsburgh’s offense has definitely lost a step with the suspension of Martavis Bryant (who is another herb aficionado) and injuries to Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey. But unlike the Giants, who likewise have an All-Pro wide receiver in Odell Beckham Jr., the Steelers have several All-Pro linemen (center Maurkice Pouncey, guard David DeCastro), so losses in the wide receiving corps are more easily masked. 

Let’s face it, if the Giants lost Beckham, they’d be toast. Their entire offense is predicated on Beckham drawing double coverage. For some reason they seem to think that the best way to exploit this is by consistently handing off to Rashad Jennings. It’d be like if the Steelers exploited a double coverage of Brown by running dives with full back Roosevelt Nix. 

This game will have a playoff feel because these are two teams with playoff aspirations who are good barometers of how each other will fare for the rest of the season. The Steelers lost to the Cowboys at home -- a team the Giants (and only the Giants) beat, and on the road no less. Can they beat the Giants in Pittsburgh? Maybe. Is this the first of two times the teams will meet this year? Maybe. Could both of those teams still miss the playoffs? You bet. 

The Giants are rolling right now, but it’d be inaccurate to call them hot. They’re winning, but they’re not doing it in very convincing fashion. Beating Pittsburgh on the road would convince a lot of people that the Giants are Super Bowl contenders.

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<![CDATA[Grading the Giants After Beating the Winless Browns]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 16:06:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-eli-manning-giants-efe-11.jpg

My parents were both teachers, so they spent a good portion of their lives assigning grades to others.

I’ve never had that pleasure of sitting in absolute judgment of others, so I’m going to create an opportunity here – assigning grades to the Giants’ offense, defense, special teams and coaching in the wake of their 27-13 victory over the winless Browns.

Who knows, I might even grade the Giants’ cheerleaders, too. What’s that, they don’t have any? Well, then that makes my job simple: They get an F. Not an incomplete; an F!

(I’m beginning to think I missed my calling as a teacher.)

Offense: C+

 In beating the Browns, the Giants won their sixth game in a row -- their longest win streak since 2008 – and it was the first time this season they’d beaten any opponent by more than a touchdown. Eli Manning was a workmanlike 15 of 27 for 194 yards, 3 touchdown passes and no interceptions. On the season, he now has twice as many touchdown passes passes (20) as interceptions (10), which is great until you realize he should probably have more of each.

I still think this Giants offense is too conservative and plays to the level of its competition. They look for balance in the run-pass game (as evidenced by the two three-and-outs featuring Rashad Jennings in the scoreless first quarter) instead of playing a more chuck-and-duck offensive scheme. Look, I know their offensive line is spotty and that Manning doesn’t have all day to throw. But move the pocket, get creative. Would it kill Eli to roll out once a decade?

His best pass of the day was probably to Dwayne Harris on a fade route in the end zone, with Harris making the kind of decisive over the shoulder grab that is sometimes missing when he’s fielding punts.

The Giants went over 100 yards rushing for the third straight game, but neither Rashad Jennings (15 carries for 55 yards) or Paul Perkins (9 carries for 29 yards) were impressive on the ground. But by all means, let’s keep opening the game with swing passes to Jennings followed by a run by Jennings to set up third and long.

Not surprisingly, the Giants swallowed up massive amounts of yards when they got the ball in the hands of Odell Beckham Jr., who caught 6 passes for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s going to need another game like that if the Giants hope to keep pace with the Steelers next week.

Still, 27 points against the Browns, who came in near the bottom of every defensive category ever conceived? Not great. Particularly when you consider the Giants went scoreless in both the first and third quarters.

Defense: B

  You know how you keep an undermanned team like the Browns within striking distance? You play a lot of zone defense, which allows opponents like Terrelle Pryor to catch 6 passes for 131 yards. The Giants sacked Josh McCown seven times – led by Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 3 sacks, a fumble recovery (that was more like an interception) and a touchdown.

Yet for some reason the team was often playing zone behind Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Snacks Harrison and Johnathan Hankins, who were cooking bacon in McCown’s kitchen all afternoon, which should have allowed the Giants to play man coverage in the secondary.

The defensive line forced three fumbles – two on McCown, one on Isiah Crowell – while the secondary had no interceptions. The impression that the secondary played an average game seemed to eat at cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who took to Twitter (where today's men settle their beefs) and threw major shade at Pryor.

If the Giants play zone defense against the Steelers, Antonio Brown is going to set every single-game NFL receiving record and Jenkins will spontaneously combust.

Special teams: B

Giants fans vividly remember how Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Sehorn blew out his knee returning kicks and was never the same player. So there’s a bit of trepidation when Beckham is returning punts or kickoffs. But let’s face it, the Giants’ best player is probably their best option these days in the return game, because Dwayne Harris (who muffed a punt last week) and Bobby Rainey (who lost a fumble versus the Browns) are engendering no confidence these days.

Beckham had a few electric runbacks versus Cleveland, including a touchdown that was called back on a penalty. The Giants should continue to run him out there on punts. Does it increase his potential for injury? Sure. Does it increase his potential for blowing a game wide open? Absolutely. There’s no reward without risk, and right now the Giants can’t afford to risk anyone other than Beckham fielding punts.

Brad Wing had another great game: 9 punts, 5 inside the 20, with a long of 58. Conversely, Robbie Gould was only 3 of 4 on extra points and did not attempt a field goal. If the Giants ever need a clutch field goal down the line, maybe Beckham can kick it for them.

Coaching: C

  For a team that has won six games in a row, has secured its first winning season since 2012 and is in line to be the fifth seed in the playoffs, the Giants are still underperforming in the eyes of many people, particularly fans -- who see an explosive offense that too often lies dormant, a coaching staff whose play-calling seems locked in the 1970s (balance, balance, balance!) and a special teams that is often exciting for all the wrong reasons.

Ben McAdoo continues to call the plays and they can be maddening at times. Like yesterday punting on 4th-and-1 from inside the 50 yard line in the first quarter. Where was the aggressiveness he has been espousing? You don’t think you can get one yard on the Browns in that situation? What kind of message is that sending?

If McAdoo would relinquish the play calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, he would probably be up for less criticism. If McAdoo looked like he was enjoying himself more, he would probably get a longer leash from fans. And if McAdoo would shave off his mustache, he would look less like an extra from “Boogie Nights.”

The Giants’ potential is so self-evident that it can become exasperating when the team seems to be its own worst enemy – not because of physical or mental mistakes, per se; but because they don’t play consistently play to their own strengths. It shouldn’t take till the fourth quarter to put away a team like the 0-12 Browns.

Cheerleading: F

 

Overall grade: C+

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<![CDATA[Giants Win Fifth Straight Versus Bears But Concerns Linger]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2016 13:14:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Giants-Bears1120.jpg

The Giants won their fifth straight game by defeating Chicago 22-16 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, raising the team’s record to 7-3 and bolstering fans’ postseason aspirations. Let’s face it, if the Giants don’t reach the playoffs, it would be a colossal disappointment. Then again, they haven’t won any of their games by more than a touchdown, including Sunday's nail-biter over the Bears, so how good are they really? 

Before we start setting aside all our Sundays in January to watch Giants playoff games, we need to assess the team's current status with a gimlet eye. There were a lot of pros and cons to take away from this Bears victory, so let’s break them down. 

On One Hand: For the first time in 18 games, the Giants did not turn the ball over. 

On the Other Hand: The Bears dropped at least two surefire interceptions from Eli Manning, including one late in the fourth quarter when the Giants were clinging to a six-point lead and Manning hesitated before trying to hit Rashad Jennings in the flat -- a pass that was bobbled by Jennings and then dropped by the Bears defender. Manning cannot keep making those late-game, mental mistakes. 

On One Hand: Rashad Jennings surpassed more than 85 yards rushing for the second straight game. 

On the Other Hand: In the fourth quarter, as the team was trying to salt away the victory, Jennings had eight carries for a putrid 22 yards. 

On One Hand: Ben McAdoo spoke all week about how the Giants would continue to be aggressive, and indeed the team converted a huge 4th-and-2 in the first half as Manning connected with Sterling Shepard, which led to a Jennings touchdown run. 

On the Other Hand: McAdoo’s play calling in the second half was anything but aggressive. He continually dialed up Jennings for fruitless dives, and in the fourth quarter the team went three-and-out three times. 

On One Hand: Shepard caught a touchdown pass for the second straight game. 

On the Other Hand: Odell Beckham (five receptions, 46 yards) seemed less than pleased that he had not been overly involved in the offense (or maybe he was still miffed that he lost a $25,000 pinky ring at a strip club). 

On One Hand: Dwayne Harris had a great kickoff return to open the second half. 

On the Other Hand: His muffed punt in the fourth quarter almost cost the team the game. 

On One Hand: Robbie Gould missed two of his three extra-point attempts in windy conditions. 

On the Other Hand: Gould had good company in his ineptitude, as kickers missed 12 PATs Sunday across the league. 

On One Hand: Landon Collins had an interception for the fourth straight game, his pick of Jay Cutler sealing the victory. 

On the Other Hand: The defense allowed two passes of more than 30 yards and four passes of more than 20 yards to a Bears offense that is among the league's worst. 

On One Hand: Jason Pierre-Paul had his best game of the year, recording 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and four solo tackles. 

On the Other Hand: He won’t be playing against a banged up Bears offensive line each week. 

On One Hand: Olivier Vernon had one sack and the key pressure that led to Cutler’s game-ending interception. 

On the Other Hand: We don’t want to spoil ourselves thinking of how well Vernon and Pierre-Paul are starting to play together. 

On One Hand: Eli Manning was not sacked in the game. 

On the Other Hand: He probably should have taken a sack or two on throws that could easily have been picked off. 

On One Hand: The Giants came back from being down 16-6. 

On the Other Hand: It’s pretty bad to let an undermanned Bears offense score on its first three possessions on the road. 

On One Hand: The Giants are winning. 

On the Other Hand: How long can they expect the defense to keep bailing them out?

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<![CDATA[Giants Look to Hone Super Bowl Blueprint Versus Bears]]> Fri, 18 Nov 2016 14:17:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/eli+manning+with+coach.jpg

With 122 yards rushing in last week’s game against the Bengals, the Giants snapped an NFL-record five straight games with fewer than 80 yards on the ground. Remarkably, the Giants have now won four games in a row despite having the No. 31 rushing attack in the NFL. If the playoffs started today, the (6-3) Giants would be the No. 5 seed. 

That reasonably begs the question: Can the Giants win the Super Bowl with such an atrocious running game? 

If you go back through history, several Super Bowl winners have been big outliers on offensive and defensive sides of the ball -- including the 2011 Giants, who were ranked 25th in offense. 

Here are some others: 2006 Colts (23rd-ranked defense); 2008 Steelers (20th-ranked offense); 1995 Cowboys (32th-ranked head coach). 

Just kidding, Barry Switzer. You were probably at worst the 30th-ranked head coach that year. 

Speaking of Dallas, the 8-1 Cowboys are widely considered the best team in the NFL this year. Their lone loss? Week One at home to the Giants. Sure, a lot has changed for both teams since that matchup. One thing that hasn’t changed? The Giants’ running game is still terrible. 

Sure, they clinched last week’s win over the Bengals with a 9-yard run by Rashad Jennings. But if you think that’s going to become the norm, you’re huffing paint. 

Still, in this day and age, with the passing game emphasized and the running game demoted (unless, of course, you have an awesome offensive line like Dallas), it seems like the blueprint for winning a Super Bowl could reasonably include: 

a) Explosive offensive game. The Giants have the No. 9 passing offense in the NFL behind Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, etc. The team only handed offensive play-calling duties over to Mike Sullivan two weeks ago before the Eagles game. It stands to reason the passing game will only improve. 

b) An underrated defense. Look, the 2016 Giants are never going to be confused with the ’85 Bears, but they have the No. 1 ranked red zone defense. They make the stops when they have to. They’re below average in points allowed per game (20.4, 22nd in the league), near the bottom in interceptions and second to last in sacks (13). Know who else is at the bottom of the league in sacks? Oakland and Pittsburgh, two teams whose Super Bowl blueprints closely resemble that of the Giants. 

Almost every team in the NFL has an Achilles’ heel this year. The first-place Texans (I know, I know, the AFC South) have the league’s worst passing game. The Seahawks, who just beat New England on the road and are widely viewed as a top Super Bowl contender, are only slightly better than the Giants on the ground, ranking 30th with just 77.7 yards per game. 

The Raiders, who would be the No. 2 seed in the AFC if the playoffs started today, have the No. 29 ranked defense. The 6-4 Falcons are 27th on defense. 

In short, there’s no 1972 Dolphins or 1996 Green Bay Packers in this mix --the only two Super Bowl winners that were ranked No. 1 overall in both offense and defense. Can the Giants’ piece together a Super Bowl blueprint? Until someone else beats Dallas this year, you tell me why not. 

For this week’s game against Chicago, the winning blueprint seems straightforward: 

a) Stop Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard, who is second in the NFL with 5.3 yards per carry. 

b) Don’t fall asleep on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears score the second fewest points per game in the NFL (15.7, just above the Rams), but Cutler still arguably possesses the strongest arm in the NFL. At 2-7, the Bears have the second-worst record in the NFC. They aren’t going to the playoffs. They have nothing to lose. That makes for a dangerous opponent. Fear Jay Cutler (or at least act like you do). 

c) Protect Eli Manning with extra blockers. The Bears actually have a pretty good defense. They’re 11th in yards allowed per game, just above the Cowboys, and they’re tied for eighth in sacks (24). Eli has been an All-Pro this year about throwing the ball into the ground at the first whiff of pressure, so hopefully he’ll maintain that approach. 

If the Giants can win this game and again next week against the Browns, they’ll be 8-3 and right near the top of the NFC playoff standings. Do they have a Super-winning blueprint? Well, it’s safe to say a Super Bowl contender wouldn’t lose to the likes of Chicago or Cleveland, so we will see.



Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Lean on Running Game to Best the Bengals]]> Tue, 15 Nov 2016 11:40:54 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-623253262.jpg

The Giants beat the Bengals 21-20 on Monday night, and they sealed the victory by running the ball with Rashad Jennings. Well, knock me over with a feather. 

Facing a third-and-six with 2:50 left in the fourth quarter, the Giants converted after handing the ball off to Jennings, who ran for 9 yards, surprising every sentient creature on earth. 

The most surprised person was probably Bengals’ middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict, whose first move after the snap was to take a step back, reasonably expecting the Giants to throw a mid-range pass to try to keep the drive alive. 

Kudos to Eli Manning for recognizing the coverage and calling the audible to Jennings, who made the most of the opportunity and ran right up the gut and past a blocked Burfict. Manning obviously has a lot more faith in Jennings than most team followers. Jennings ran for a season high 87 yards, and the team (122 yards) surpassed 80 yards on the ground for the first time in six games, snapping a record streak of futility. 

Jennings had a long run of 25, averaging nearly 6 yards per carry on 15 attempts. Rookie Paul Perkins totaled 31 yards on nine carries. Manning, meanwhile, had 4 yards on three carries, the kind of average we might have expected from Jennings. 

I’ve hammered Jennings in this space, consistently calling for the team to either abandon him as the starter or to abandon the running game altogether. I mean, this isn’t the 1970s or the era of 3 yards and a cloud of dust. The Giants have now won four games in a row and they’ve done it with a terrible running game. They’ve shown it can be done. But by putting the rushing attack on the backburner, they also retain an element of surprise, as evidenced by Jennings’ pivotal scamper. 

The team’s offensive line –- already without top guard Justin Pugh -– was overwhelmed all night by Bengals’ nose tackle Geno Atkins, who was in Manning’s grill throughout the game and finished with two tackles and a sack. But it was back-to-back sacks of Andy Dalton on the Bengals’ last possession that forced Cincinnati to punt and set the stage for Jennings. 

Last year, the Giants blew five fourth-quarter leads, a prime reason Tom Coughlin was not retained as head coach. During halftime of Monday’s game, Coughlin was among the most recent inductees into the Giants’ Ring of Honor. In the third quarter, he was in the booth for an interview when announcer Sean McDonough asked him if it was difficult to come back and watch this team. Coughlin danced around the issue a bit, but I suspect it’s very difficult to look at this Giants’ 6-3 team and not wonder, “Where was all this talent last year?” 

Sterling Shepard, Jerell Adams, Oliver Vernon, Janoris Jenkings and Snacks Harrison have all been impact additions this season. And when you add in a resurgent Landon Collins, who is in the early discussion for Defensive Player of the Year, you can imagine Coughlin shaking his head and thinking, “Heck, I would have won with this team.” 

That’s debatable. What’s not debatable is the Giants are closing out games they tended to lose last year. And they're doing it with gutsy calls (like Ben McAdoo going for it on fourth and goal early in the fourth quarter, when Manning hooked up with Shepard for the go-ahead touchdown). And they're doing it with a defense that is consistently making huge stops when it needs to. 

The Giants now face the two worst teams in the league (at home versus Chicago and on the road at Cleveland) before a brutal five-game stretch to close the year (at Pittsburgh, vs. Detroit and Dallas, at Philadelphia and Washington). 

Big Blue is riding high, but I don’t know how many more times you’re gonna fool an opponent by running Jennings on third-and-six.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Audition for Playoffs Against Bengals]]> Mon, 14 Nov 2016 09:09:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/179*120/PaulPerkinsGiants.jpg

The Giants turned a much-needed corner in last week’s 28-23 victory over the Eagles. Coming out of their bye week, the traditional time to make adjustments to the team’s scheme and depth chart, the Giants finally committed to rookie running back Paul Perkins.

Are we done with the days of Rashad Jennings as the starting running back? Probably not. But when it comes to classifying the pecking order in the team’s backfield, terms like “starting” and “change of pace” are all relative when you have the most inept running game the NFL has seen since 1933.

That’s right. Last week the Giants failed to notch more than 80 rushing yards for the fifth straight game, the first time that’s happened since rushing records were first recorded during the Great Depression, according to the Associated Press.

Amazing, not least because the team has won three games in a row.

That’s the Giants, though – an historical outlier that still wins games.

Not content with scrapping the running game altogether (though maybe they should), the Giants handed Perkins 11 carries last week, more than double his career carries (10) coming into the game. They also hit him for three receptions for 15 yards.

Perkins didn’t exactly set the world on fire, notching just 32 yards on the ground, with a long of 14, averaging 2.9 yards per carry. But he has the home run capability that Jennings lacks. And with home run capabilities outside with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and another emerging rookie, Roger Lewis, the Giants now have an offense that is explosive and multi-faceted.

Coming out of the bye, head coach Officer Farva wisely relinquished play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Why you would have an offensive coordinator and now allow him to make the play calls never made sense. You hire guys to do a job and you should let them do it.

Now the Giants face Cincinnati on Monday night. The Bengals are coming off their bye week and will undoubtedly have made some adjustments themselves. The team is 3-4-1 and have played a brutally competitive schedule. They’re every bit the team that got beaten in the Wild Card game each of the last five years. This team is wholly unpredictable – capable of coming out and blowing the Giants off the field with a No. 6-ranked offense – featuring Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill.

On defense, they have playmakers at all three levels: Pro Bowlers Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins on the line, law-flouter Vontaze Burfict at linebacker, and Reggie Nelson in the secondary. Vegas ought to have the odds at 3:2 that Beckham and Burfict will get into a fight.

If the playoffs started today, the Giants would be the No. 5 seed. Are we ready to call them a playoff team? Well, if they beat the Bengals to raise their record to 6-3 – with upcoming games against the Bears and the Browns – then the Giants will definitely have turned a corner.

Keep handing the ball to Perkins, keep throwing the ball to Beckham, Shepard and Lewis. There’s a lot of home runs on this roster. The Giants just have to hit ‘em. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Prove a Year Makes a Big Difference]]> Mon, 07 Nov 2016 14:12:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ap-jordan-matthews-final-play-giants.jpg

What a difference a year makes, huh? Last year, the Giants set a new standard for blowing fourth quarter leads in distinct ways. If it wasn’t clock mismanagement, it was questionable play-calling. Or it was head-scratching throws by Eli Manning, or a defense that couldn’t make a much-needed stop.

Contrast that with the resilient team that beat Philadelphia 28-23 on Sunday, pushing New York’s record to 5-3, good for second place in the resurgent NFC East and two games behind Dallas (7-1). The Eagles were the ones exhibiting all those bad tendencies, while the Giants made more big plays in all three phases of the game. 

There were plenty of big plays, insanity and ineptitude in this contest, so let’s hand out some recognition for Hero, Nero, Zero 

Hero: Keenan Robinson. 

Yes, Odell Beckham Jr. had a nice game, with two electric touchdowns –- taking one slant at the 26-yard line and slicing through the Eagles’ secondary, and notching his second by leaping over a d-back in the end zone. And so did Eli Manning (four touchdown passes and one ghastly interception near the end of the game that called for the defense to bail him out). But Robinson had a game-turning play that was somewhat overlooked in the moment. 

With the Giants leading 21-10 and seemingly in control of the game with 5:42 left in the second quarter, New York punted to Darren Sproles, who is the one guy on Philadelphia with the ability to flip the field quickly. Sproles dashed down the middle of the field and cut to the sideline and only had one person to beat –- Robinson. 

Robinson got just enough of Sproles that the Eagles’ punt returner stepped out of bounds after a 66-yard kick that put the Eagles on the Giants’ 15-yard line. Four plays later, the Eagles turned it over on downs when Sproles was stopped for no gain on 4th-and-1. Instead of it being 21-17, it was still 21-10. In a game that was ultimately decided by five points, Robinson’s play was huge. 

Nero: Janoris Jenkins. 

There is a good reason many guys play defense and not offense: They have bad hands and/or bad instincts with the ball. Jenkins is a terrific player, but at times he seems to check out, both physically and mentally. He missed an easy interception against the Eagles in the end zone when the ball went right through his hands. And after Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a Caleb Sturgis field goal in the second quarter, Jenkins picked it up and was running amid a pack of Eagles when he tried to lateral it to a teammate. I try not to yell at the television, but I screamed, “Don’t do that!” and sure enough, the ball was fumbled. 

The Giants were fortunate to recover the fumble, but a huge momentum swing was almost thwarted because Jenkins was trying to do too much. 

Zero: Touchdown passes by Carson Wentz. 

The Eagles’ rookie quarterback passed for 364 yards, but with a pedestrian completion rate (27 of 47) and two interceptions. It was just the second game of his young career that Wentz didn’t throw a touchdown pass. The other was against Washington, but in that game he didn’t toss any picks. 

The Eagles’ chance for a comeback ended when Wentz threw incomplete to Jordan Matthews in the end zone as the Giants’ defense got Manning off the hook after a tipped pass INT with under two minutes left. 

The 2015 Giants would have found a way to lose a game like this. The story this year has been different.



Photo Credit: Andrew Kulp | The700Level]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Hopefully Said 'Bye' to a Lot of Things ]]> Sat, 05 Nov 2016 20:32:00 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/203*120/usatsi_9625455_138566172_lowres.jpg

Coming off their bye week, the Giants are 4-3 and tied for second place in the NFC East with this Sunday’s opponent, Philadelphia. Bye weeks are cited as the time for teams to get healthy, make scheme adjustments and perhaps tweak their roster. In short, they’re an opportunity to say “bye” to certain things that just aren’t working.

As the Giants prepare for the second half of their season, they hopefully bid sayonara to the following things:

Bye: To an anemic running game, which is averaging 70.3 yards per game, good for last in the NFL.

Bye: To Odell Beckham Jr.’s penchant for undermining his brilliance by getting flagged for selfish behavior.

Bye: To head coach Ben McAdoo as the offensive playcaller, as the scheme has become predictable and the Giants are an unimpressive 26th in points (19.0 per game).

Bye: To Rashad Jennings as the starting running back.

Bye: To ranking last in the NFL in time of possession.

Bye: To fumbling on the first possession of games.

Bye: To ranking 28th in the NFL in third-down conversions.

Bye: To being tied for the league’s second-worst turnover ratio (-7).

Bye: To ranking 6th in the NFL with 275 yards passing per game with only 8 touchdown passes.

Bye: To having the second fewest sacks (9) in the league.

Bye: To having the second fewest recovered fumbles (1).

Bye: In short, to a defense that hasn’t made enough plays so far.

If the Giants can effectively say “bye” to even half of those things, they will go far this season.

Now let’s say “hello” to some things related to this week’s game against the Eagles.

Hello: To a stout Eagles defense that is allowing 16.7 points per game, ranked 4th in the NFL.

Hello: To a Philly defense that has 22 sacks, good for third most in the league.

Hello: To a Giants offensive line that has only allowed 11 sacks, second fewest in the league.

Hello: To another quick throw from Eli Manning, whose penchant for dumping the ball at the first sign of trouble is part of why he has been sacked so infrequently.

Hello: To Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, who has played terrific so far this season.

Hello: To first year Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who made some questionable late-game decisions in the team’s 29-23 loss to Dallas last Monday.

Hello: To Darren Sproles, the one game-changer the Eagles have on offense.

Hello: To whoever the Eagles are rolling out at wide receiver these days.

Hello: To Eagles fans making the trip north from Philly. Please pick up after yourselves.

Hello: To a Giants victory in a must-win divisional game.



Photo Credit: Andrew Kulp | The700Level]]>