<![CDATA[NBC New York - Giants]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/giants http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Mon, 30 Nov 2015 07:01:01 -0500 Mon, 30 Nov 2015 07:01:01 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Giants Lose to Pats in Season's Best Game to Date]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:33:23 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/beckham8.jpg

If you’re a fan of great football, what more could you want from the Patriots’ 27-26 victory over the Giants? Sure, it would have been even better to see New York hold on to win (especially if you’re a Giants fan or, like, me a Patriots-hater).

But from an entertainment standpoint, this regular-season contest had it all, including numerous lead changes, devastating injuries, terrific plays, stupid plays, missed plays, over-officiating, under-officiating, overturned plays and -- this being a Giants game -- a fourth-quarter meltdown that hinged upon woeful clock management.

Because it was a close game that ended as time expired, everyone will tend to focus on the plays that happened from 2:01 on down, i.e., after Odell Beckham Jr.’s touchdown catch was overturned. If you do that, you’ll miss all the great back and forth in a game that seemed to be a mismatch on paper.

Endings are great and all, but an ending is only memorable if the lead-up allows it to be. Here’s what the lead-up included:

1. The Giants win the coin toss and elect to defer. Anyone who watches the Patriots knows this must have burned Belichick’s britches, as the Patriots coach loves to defer himself when he wins the toss. Why? Because usually it allows his team to have back-to-back possessions bridging halftime. The ever humorless Phil Simms said it was crazy to give the ball to Tom Brady first, with Simms providing his ever-nuanced opinion that if he were the opposing team he would never want to see Tom Brady on the field. Yes, Phil Simms is the kid who used to take his ball and go home.

2. The Patriots’ opening drive lasted more than eight minutes and involved several third-down conversions by New England. As soon as Brady found Scott Chandler for the touchdown to complete a seemingly perfect drive, I thought to myself, “That’s the kind of opening drive you’d see in a classic Super Bowl.”

3. Unlike the slow and methodical Patriots, whose best deep threat is a tight end, the Giants wasted no time tying up the score when Odell Beckham Jr. caught a ball behind Malcolm Butler and streaked past the bad-angling Pats safety Devin McCourty to tie the score 7-7. This, in a nutshell, is why the Patriots are susceptible to quick-strike teams like the Giants and the Steelers. New England’s best deep threat wide receiver is Brandon LaFell, who is only a deep threat when players like Jayron Housley try to intercept passes by putting their arms out like they’re bear-hugging a sequoia.

4. The importance of the loss of Julian Edelman can’t be overstated. The guy is an All-Pro gnat and Brady’s favorite safety valve, and it’s no coincidence that the Patriots’ offense sputtered after he went down near the end of the first quarter with a broken bone in his foot. Early reports indicate he might be back in time for the rematch between these two teams. See below.

5. People on social media were killing the Giants for their late-game clock management, but let’s also give them credit for consistently being aggressive on offense, including the fade route touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris (who dragged his second foot successfully) at the end of the first half to put the Giants up 17-10. Harris was once again right in the middle of the good, bad and ugly in this game, and has been a vital difference-maker as a free-agent pickup from the Cowboys.

6. Up 20-10 with 3:29 left in the third quarter, the Giants punted, with Brad Wing booming a ball all the way back to the Patriots’ 11-yard line -- where New England punt returner Danny Amendola either called for a fair catch that wasn’t recognized by officials or was using the age-old trick of waving his arm to keep himself from falling off an imaginary cliff. Harris, a special teams ace, too, seemed to think he had called for a fair catch, as he went past Amendola to try to down any ball that potentially hit the ground and rolled toward the Pats’ end zone. Instead Amendola ran it back and -- thanks to several de-cleating blocks by the Patriots’ return team – almost brought it to the house before he was tripped up by his own player. That trip could have been more memorable, but the Patriots ended up scoring a touchdown, so it’s largely an afterthought.

7. Up 23-17 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Giants’ pass rush -- yes, they actually have one now, thanks in large part to the return of Jason Pierre-Paul -- sacked Brady, forced a fumble and recovered the ball at the Patriots’ 30-yard line. The Giants are now already in field goal position for Josh Brown, who might have been the lone Giant to play an unblemished game. Instead the drive goes backward due in part to a sack of Manning and the Giants have to punt. That’s just brutal -- to have the ball and the potential to go ahead by two scores in the fourth quarter and come away with nothing.

8. Again, the Patriots’ downfield passing game basically involves throwing to Gronk along the seams, which everyone knows. Somehow that doesn’t keep Giants’ safety Craig Dahl from taking a bad angle and letting Gronkowski, who is more or less the size of Battery Park, slip past him for the go-ahead touchdown on the Patriots’ ensuing drive.

9. So, time check -- there’s 11:33 left in the game, a full nine and a half minutes before the Beckham play, and it’s a one-point game. Even if you got called away on an emergency, you’ve seen a great game already. Sure, you’d miss the end of the game – when Harris inexplicably caught a pass from Manning with just over two minutes to play and ran out of bounds to stop the clock. And you’d miss Beckham not securing the go-ahead touchdown pass that would have given the Giants a 29-24 lead and the opportunity to go for two and be up a touchdown. And you would have missed Housley not intercepting that pass to LaFell. And you would have missed Landon Collins not clinching the game when he dropped an easy interception on the first down of the last drive. And you would have missed the Patriots converting a fourth-and-10 play to keep the drive alive, when Brady found another gnat, Amendola, right near the first-down marker. And you would have missed Amendola later catching a ball between the hash marks and turning up field to get the Patriots in range for Stephen Gostkowski’s 54-yard game-winning field goal.

10. Yeah, you would have missed all that if you checked out after Gronk’s go-ahead touchdown with 11:33 left. But you still would have seen a great game. Unfortunately you wouldn’t have seen the entirety of the greatest regular-season game so far this season -- and maybe, just maybe, a preview of Super Bowl 50.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Are Most Mediocre Team in NFL]]> Thu, 05 Nov 2015 10:26:02 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-455434102.jpg

With eight weeks of the NFL season now in the books, we’re approaching the midway point of the NFL season -- which, because of a 17-week season, basically falls in the middle of this week. If mile-marker 8.5 is similar to the equinox, you might be able to balance an egg or something of similar shape, like a football. Roger Goodell is planning to mark the occasion by balancing on his head.

Many football observers use the midway point of the season to make note of the teams and players who are playing exceptionally well or exceedingly bad. The winners! The losers! The overrated! The underrated! The players in the MVP discussion! The coaches most likely to get fired and become ESPN commentators!

But when you focus all your energy on the extreme poles of success and failure, you overlook the wide tundra of mediocrity -- the vast expanse of gray where legions of players, coaches and owners toil away in relative obscurity. In short, the domain of the 2015 New York Giants, the most mediocre team in the NFL.

At 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the NFC East, Big Blue is the embodiment of mediocre. They've scored 215 points and allowed 208 points, a plus-seven that is the closest of any NFC team to net zero.

They're dead last in the NFL in total defense, allowing 427.7 yards per game, but somehow they're also leading the NFL in turnover margin at +11. They're last in the NFL in sacks with nine, but tied for first in the NFL in interceptions (13).

Only a perfectly mediocre team could pull all that off.

Eli Manning is having a career year with 17 touchdown passes, only four interceptions and a passer rating of 99.9. But with a running game that's 27th in the NFL, the Giants have an overall offense that is only middle of the road, ranked 14th.

The G-Men are the most blatantly flawed good team in the NFL. Who else could score 49 points on the road behind a quarterback who threw six touchdowns and no interceptions -- and still lose?

So what does this week's game against the 3-4 Buccaneers and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston bring? It brings an opportunity for the Giants to prove that they can beat an almost equally mediocre team.

The Bucs, Saints and Giants all basically subscribe to the same defensive philosophy: "We hope our offense scores a lot."

Tampa Bay allows 28.4 points per game, which is 28th in the NFL. They're middle of the pack in sacks (ranked 16 with 17 QB take-downs) and they've got the second fewest INTs in the league (four). But they're tied for second in forced fumbles (12) and they lead the league in recoveries (nine).

Thanks to the renaissance of running back Doug Martin, the Bucs are fourth in the NFL in rushing. With wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, they also have the weapons to throw down the field against the Giants, which can be said of all 128 schools in the FBS, as well.

Winston has not thrown an interception in his last four contests, and his team has won two of its last three games. After pulling out a 23-20 victory on the road against Atlanta last week, the team is definitely feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, which is why it's imperative that the Giants once again have the services of four players who've been injured: Jason Pierre-Paul, Prince Amukamara, Jon Beason and Orleans Darkwa.

It's simple, really: Pierre-Paul can make a dreadful pass rush into something more respectable, i.e, mediocre.

Amukamara can make a dreadful pass defense into something more respectable, i.e., you know where I'm going with this.

Beason can make a linebacker corps into something more respectable, i.e.., there's a theme emerging here.

And Darkwa can make an offense that is too pass-reliant into something less predictable.

The Giants already have a lot of great parts in place. These four players can help make the league's most mediocre team into something more than middling.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Manning Nearly Flawless, But Giants Still Lose to Saints]]> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 10:14:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-495258434.jpg

The Saints’ 52-49 victory over the Giants on Sunday was the most predictable outcome in North American sports history. Anyone with a fully developed medulla oblongata knew that both teams feature high-scoring offenses and that both teams feature defense coordinators who like to flaunt red matador capes and shout “ole!”

Anyone who has watched this year’s Giants in the fourth quarter of close games also knew Big Blue would do something memorable to lose the game. They did not disappoint.

This record-setting game featured a lot of amazing plays, insanity and ineptitude, so let’s pay our respects to the Hero, Nero and Zero.

Hero: Eli Manning

What? You expected the honor to go to Drew Brees for his record-tying seven touchdown passes? Nyet.

Granted, Brees had a great game, what with 511 yards passing and those ridiculous TD pass totals. But he also threw one interception and also threw a hospital pass to Willie Snead that was basically an INT, but which was called a fumble when Snead was jacked by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Trumain McBride brought it back for a touchdown. Brees also had another TD pass that somehow floated in between double coverage near the goal line and should have been picked.

Manning, meanwhile, threw six touchdown passes himself, and was 30 of 41 for 350 yards — and no interceptions. If the Giants had some semblance of a defense — ya know, other than team dunce Damontre Moore running with his head down into the quarterback for 15-yard penalties — people would be talking about Eli as an MVP candidate. He’s having the best season of his career, and on Sunday converted two fourth downs for touchdowns.

It’s not his fault the team’s defense couldn’t cover a cracker with a tub full of cream cheese.

Nero: Tom Coughlin

We love Brad Wing, who has been a dynamite acquisition and has regularly pinned the opposition deep with his surgical punts. So it was astonishing to see him kick the ball in bounds at the end of yesterday’s game. Sure, the Giants missed two tackles right after Saints’ punt returner Willie Snead caught the ball, but why would you even give him the chance to run the ball back? Do the Giants not realize their long, distinguished history of end-of-game punting situations?

Coach Tom Coughlin said they were going for distance, and that you couldn’t predict the missed tackles or the questionable facemask penalty on Wing, who was himself being shoved in the face on the tackle. But that’s the whole point: so many things can go wrong on a punt return, especially on the road, that it seems imperative to sacrifice distance in order to kick the ball out of bounds.

Every Giants fan over the age of two months old knew that something was about to go wrong when Wing dropped back to punt with 20 second left in regulation.

Zero: Teams better than the Giants in NFC East

Despite the crushing loss to New Orleans, the 4-4 Giants remain alone in first place, one win better than both the Eagles and Washington (both 3-4), who were on bye this week.

The Giants did a lot of good things in the game against the Saints. New Orleans native Odell Beckham Jr. had three touchdown catches, and even honored Michael Jackson with one post-score celebratory dance.

Wing averaged 40.5 yards on punts and celebrated one great kick by mimicking a golfer who has landed a great chip shot.

And Coughlin admitted that his team closes games about as well as the Mets.

OK, fine, he didn’t cop to that, but he didn’t need to because everyone knows it. This Giants team is talented and exciting — and blatantly flawed. Perhaps the returns of Jason Pierre-Paul, Prince Amukamara and Jon Beason will help down the stretch. Until then, they need Manning to continue to play flawlessly just to have a chance.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Will Hopefully Turn to Darkwa in New Orleans]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2015 09:03:15 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_744485021078.jpg

A reasonable preview of Sunday’s game between the Giants and Saints will make quick work of describing the teams’ most basic similarities: they can both score on anyone, and anyone can score on them.

The Giants’ defense is ranked 29th, just ahead of the 30th-ranked Saints. The passing defenses of both teams are allowing more than 400 yards per game. In Eli Manning and Drew Brees, both teams have future Hall of Fame quarterbacks who can’t always rely on their running games. So if you’re a fantasy owner and you have a wide receiver on either of these teams -- be it Rueben Randle, Dwayne Harris, Phil McConkey, whomever -- you’d be wise to start them this week because common sense says this game in New Orleans is going to be a high-scoring contest.

Of course, common sense usually takes a back seat in most Giants games, as we saw last week when the Cowboys ran for 233 yards, dominated the time of possession, held Manning under 200 yards passing with no touchdown passes, and still lost to New York 27-20 -- thanks to the charity work of Dallas fill-in mannequin Matt Cassel (three interceptions), a pick six from Dominique Rodgers Cromartie and a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown by Dwayne Harris, which so enraged Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy that he slapped a clipboard out of the hands of special teams coach Rich Bisaccia.

Crazy? You betcha. The Saints don’t currently employ anyone as fated for prison as Hardy, but Sunday’s game should be nuts, if for no other reason than it’s taking place in New Orleans on the day after Halloween, i.e., All Saints Day.

The Saints’ offense leads the NFL with 32 plays of over 20 yards. Meanwhile, the Giants rank near the bottom of the league (28th) in so-call “big plays,” which is a run of more than 10 yards or a pass of more than 25 yards. Considering the Giants just realized last week that Orleans Darkwa is their best big-play running option, this low ranking shouldn’t be that surprising. If they can balance the big-play, over-the-top threat of Odell Beckham Jr. with the between the tackles potential of Darkwa, the Giants might have the kind of offense that could give fits to any defense – even that of their opponent in two weeks, New England.

Is that looking too far ahead? Of course. The landscape of the NFL shifts on tectonic plates every week, and this week’s darling can just as quickly be next week’s afterthought. But the Giants had success in all three phases of the game last week against Dallas. And sure, luck played a part, but luck counts, too. The Giants have been lucky for years to have a quarterback who never gets hurt. They’ve been lucky to have an ownership group that doesn’t panic when things look bleak. And they’ve been lucky that so many teams passed on Beckham in the 2014 draft.

They’ve also been unlucky. For instance, how many teams slap a franchise tag on a player and then have that guy blow off his thumb in a fireworks accident? The number has to be low.

Jason Pierre-Paul returned to the team this week and should be able to return to the field in a few weeks – about the same time as the first-place Giants are expecting to once again receive the services of cornerback Prince Amukamara and slot receiver Victor Cruz.

Just kidding, no one has any clue when Cruz is going to return. If the Giants are lucky, they’ll have all these guys back and healthy for the stretch run.

In the meantime, please hand the damn ball off to Orleans Darkwa this week. And no, not just because of his first name and the location of the game.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Hold Off Cowboys Thanks to Outlier Plays]]> Mon, 26 Oct 2015 09:04:25 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NYCowboys.jpg

The Giants’ 27-20 victory over Dallas underscored how futile it usually is to prognosticate about the NFL and the factors that will likely lead to victory versus defeat. Let’s just consider some of the things that -- when considered in a vacuum – would usually have contributed to a Giants loss.

  • The team surrendered 233 yards rushing and turned Darren McFadden (152 yards on 29 carries) into the running back whose fantasy starting percentage will jump the most between this week and next week, when he will invariably remind owners why he’s a former Raider.
  • The Giants allowed 460 total yards to an offense being led by a quarterback (Matt Cassel) who was unemployed a few weeks ago. Next week New York travels to New Orleans, where they will face Drew Brees and a Saints offense that we can safely assume will pass the 1,000-yard barrier in total offense against the Giants.
  • The Giants only had the ball for 21:56, their lowest time of possession in nearly three years.
  • It required a unique and amazing confluence of events for the Giants to win this game, and that’s exactly what we saw, including:
  • An Orleans Darkwa sighting. Darkwa, who led the Giants in rushing during the preseason (including the team's only run of more than 20 yards), had zero carries during the team’s first six games, hampering his ability to contribute much in the running game. Against Dallas, the man with the best name in the NFL had eight carries for 48 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown. If he’s not featured prominently against New Orleans next week, we can reasonably call for the defenestration of Giants’ offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had two interceptions, including a pick six. Why were the Cowboys ever throwing the ball when they were trampling the Giants’ run defense? Because coaches such as Cowboys' offensive coordinator Scott Linehan need to justify their existence, and they spent a lot of time drawing up those pretty pass plays, which look so good on a white board and less attractive when Matt Cassel is attempting to execute them. Let's go on a digression, shall we? Wouldn’t it be great if the NFL – maybe as a throwback week – went back to how the game was played in the 1970s and earlier, when quarterbacks were actual adults and had to take responsibility for the team’s offensive play calls and weren’t sitting there between plays with their hands over their ear holes waiting for the next directive to come in over the baby monitor? The over-management of NFL games is the direct result of a small handful of mavericks, geniuses and innovators like Bill Walsh, Sid Gilman and Dick LeBeau, whose whirlwind success created the impression that other teams could replicate their success by hiring the protégés of these coaches. There’s way too much technology and communications in today’s NFL. It won’t be long before players are whipping out their iPhones in between plays to see what brilliance the offensive coordinator has beamed to their devices. Meanwhile, how about that Mass Cassel and his three interceptions? He should have received the Giants’ game ball.
  • Dwayne Harris running back the game-clinching 100-yard touchdown against his former team. Harris, a special teams standout who the Giants signed from Dallas in free agency, has been a key contributor, in stepping up as a third receiver with the ongoing absence of Victor Cruz and the early-season release of drop-heavy Preston Parker. In addition to his kick return touchdown, he also had two catches for 43 yards. It's guys like this that make the difference for otherwise middling clubs.
  • The Giants ran for more than 100 yards. This is remarkable because they are the last team to pass the century mark in a game this season. It’s probably just a coincidence that this was the first time Orleans Darka played all season.
  • The Giants caused four turnovers, while Eli Manning -- who had a pretty pedestrian day (13 of 24 for 170 yards and no touchdowns) -- didn’t turn the ball over. New York now has a league-best plus nine turnover differential, which has played no small part in the team's fortunes.

So, yes, the Giants won and congratulations to Tom Coughlin on winning his 100th game as coach of the team, but absent the game-changing plays of DRC and Harris (and the fact Dallas was starting a quarterback who was sitting on his sofa on Sundays during September) this was not an all-around impressive victory.

The defense still gives up way too many yards, and unless Manning plays flawlessly, the team is always riding the razor’s edge. For now, though, the team is 4-3 and all alone atop the NFC East, which not many people would have predicted. Except, ya know, me, who predicted the Giants would face the Jets in the Super Bowl.

That prediction looks slightly better than all those people who picked the Colts this year.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Play Like Ewoks After Impressive Opening Drive]]> Tue, 20 Oct 2015 10:34:49 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/larry+donnell+eagles.jpg

A highly anticipated trailer for the upcoming movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” aired on ESPN Monday night, a two-minute oasis book-ended by a Pop Warner contest between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles.

If you’re like me, the Star Wars trailer left the impression that Luke Skywalker might be heading to the dark side in the upcoming movie, which is slated to be released around Christmas. And if you’re like me, the Giants-Eagles game left the impression that the Giants’ season was just frozen in carbonite and shipped to Jabba the Hutt.

In short, what in the wide world of sports was that? The Giants lost 27-7, but honestly it would have been closer to a 41-7 defeat if not for the antihero antics of Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford.

Ahead 7-0 after an opening-game drive that saw the Giants march down the field and cap it with a scoring strike to Odell Beckham Jr., New York looked terrific. Jon Gruden was marveling at the team’s diverse offensive weaponry and said the Giants would have one of the premier offenses in the league when Victor Cruz finally returns from injury.

And then, almost as if the Giants’ entire planet was mysteriously vaporized by some powerful weapon, poof.

Larry Donnell, who had not done something exasperating in several moons, allowed Eli Manning’s 11th pass of the night -- till then Manning had been 10 of 10 -- to get wrested out of his hands by Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans for an interception. And from then on, the Giants played like a bunch of ewoks, even as Bradford consistently gifted them opportunities to stay in the game with mind-numbing interceptions.

Yeah, the Eagles are now in first place in the NFC Least. Let’s look at how we got to this point in our lives, people.

In an interview with Donnell this week on giants.com, Carl Banks took Donnell to task. He said he was one of Donnell’s biggest fans, but that the tight end still does too many head-scratching things. Namely, somersaulting and diving over defenders, which leaves him prone to fumbles.

Donnell explained that last year he was rattled because of some low hits near his knees and that he was going airborne to avoid possible injuries. Provided that is true, I don’t think it was in the best interests of Donnell -- a tight end who makes his living over the middle and will thus be subject to low hits by smaller defensive backs for his entire career -- to admit something like that. That’s catnip to defenders, and when Ryans ripped the ball out of Donnell’s hands on a throw to the flat, all I could think about was that Donnell was so preoccupied with turning his head downfield to gauge the threat of an approaching d-back who might go low that he forgot his first priority: securing the ball.

I know Donnell pulled in the game-winning catch against the 49ers last week, but consider the circumstances -- he was at the back of the end zone and jumping backwards, and thus there was no perceived threat to his knees or legs, particularly from behind. It was like he was doing the Nestea plunge into the safe, welcoming waters of a heated swimming pool. That’s a big difference from catching the ball across the middle in traffic with middle linebackers swarming and defensive backs closing in.

The Giants’ loss was a team effort (more on that in a bit), but the team was clicking on all cylinders until that Ryans play. Could Manning have thrown a better ball? Yes, he could have led Donnell on the pass and not left it on his back hip --- and thus exposed to Ryans, who still had to make a great play. Maybe I’m reading into this one play too much, but I’m just going on Donnell’s history and his own recent comments.

Now, let’s not lay the entire blame on Donnell, because he was far from the only culprit. To wit:

Eli Manning. Coming into the game, Manning had the highest passer rating of his career (100.2) and had only thrown two interceptions. He matched that number with the Donnell throw and then the pick six to Eagles defensive back Nolan Carroll, when Manning hesitated and then threw way too late to the flat. Hesitation was the operative word for Manning all night. In the first series and a half, he was making quick passes that negated the Eagles’ pass rush. But in subsequent drives, he was holding the ball too long, which led to sacks and several laughably bad intentional groundings.

Brad Wing. Welp, the gild is off that lily. With a 26-yard punt and a 37-yard punt, Wing has proven that not all Australians are superheroes.

Tom Coughlin. On the third drive of the game, with the score 7-7, the Giants were subjected to a questionable spot on a third-down run by Rashad Jennings. Instead of challenging the spot, Coughlin called for another run from Jennings, who was stuffed on fourth down. That’s what the challenge flags are for, coach: Close calls in close games. You don’t get to carry them over to next week.

Damontre Moore. Is there anything more idiotic than a player who celebrates an individual play with some asinine dance when his team is getting blown out? With the Giants ahead 7-0, Moore had a crushing roughing the passer penalty on third and 10 that allowed an early Eagles drive to continue -- but that didn’t prevent him from peacocking on subsequent plays, even when the team was losing by several scores. After the game, Moore copped to having a “poor football IQ” in light of that early roughing the passer penalty. This is a professional football player who has presumably been playing the game since he was a kid. If he doesn’t know by now that you can’t bodyslam the quarterback to the ground well after the pass is away, then when is he going to learn? Maybe Moore should bone up on his rulebook and stop worrying about his dance choreography.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fact vs. Fiction as Giants Face Hated Rival Eagles]]> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 09:36:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/192*120/ap-ryan-mathews-eagles.jpg

The New York Football Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles resume a rivalry Monday night that began in 1933, back when college football was the nation’s gridiron preference and Coughlin was in his first year as coach of Big Blue.

OK, so Coughlin hasn’t really been coach of the Giants since 1933 -- I double-checked -- but he has been around long enough to witness many memorable contests between his team and that squad of miscreants who ply their trade in the City of Brotherly Love.

What, you were expecting a preview replete with hand-holding and choral music? Forget it. Eagles fans in attendance at this Monday night game will be really worked up -- mostly because they don’t work and will have been drinking in the parking lot all day.

Fact? Debatable. But let’s focus on the Fact and Fiction associated with this game that are not debatable.

Fact: The Eagles are the only NFC East team to never win a Super Bowl.
Fiction: That can all change Monday night.

Fact: Philadelphia is going to be wearing all-black jerseys in the game and they have asked fans to wear the same color as they go for a “black out.”
Fiction: The all-black jerseys are something other than a lame merchandising cash grab and fans are more than sheeple for wearing black clothing.

Fact: Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) is a game-time decision.
Fiction: I’m totally taking the Giants and the 4.5 points in this game.

Fact: The Giants’ best acquisition for this season was arguably punter Brad Wing.
Fiction: His jersey is currently on back order at the NFL Shop.

Fact: The Giants have the seventh-best passing offense in the league with 282.4 yards passing per game.
Fiction: That average figures to drop against a porous Eagles pass defense (25th in the league; 279.6 ypg).

Fact: The Giants have the 26th-best rushing offense in the league with 91.2 yards per game.
Fiction: That average figures to improve against a respectable Eagles run defense (96.9 ypg).

Fact: The Giants will be playing without their top cornerback, Prince Amukamara, who is expected to miss two to four weeks with a torn pectoral muscle.
Fiction: The Eagles have no idea he’s not playing.

Fact: The Eagles have a three-headed monster at running back with Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and DeMarco Murray.
Fiction: You’re in good shape if you need any of these guys to get you more than 10 points in fantasy football Monday night.

Fact: The Eagles’ leading receiver is Vanderbilt alum Jordan Matthews.
Fiction: I’m surprised more Vanderbilt alums don’t make good in the NFL.

Fact: With one victory, Tom Coughlin will have 100 wins as coach of the Giants.
Fiction: Chip Kelly will reach 40 wins with the Eagles before heading back to college or getting ridden out of Philadelphia on a rail.

Fact: The Giants (3-2) could very well be 5-0 if they didn’t implode in the fourth quarter of their first two games against Dallas and Atlanta.
Fiction: With his magical fourth-quarter play calling, Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is a shoo-in to be the next head coach of the team.

Fact: With the Cowboys crippled by injuries and Washington owned by Mr. Burns, the Giants and Eagles are the best teams in the NFC East right now.
Fiction: There is a worse division in football than the NFC East.

Fact: Philadelphia is riding a one-game win streak after blowing out New Orleans last week.
Fiction: The Saints are a good team.

Fact: The Giants have lost 11 of their last 14 to the Eagles.
Fiction: That has any bearing on this game

Fact: This game features reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week (Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox) and reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week (Eli Manning).
Fiction: You can imagine a realistic scenario in which both of them repeat the honors this week.

Fact: The Eagles have allowed 18 pass plays of more than 20 yards.
Fiction: That's more than the Giants (18).

Fact: Giants have allowed only four sacks through the first five games, second-best coming in behind the Jets.
Fiction: The Eagles’ defense -- Fletcher Cox (four sacks), Connor Barwin (two sacks) – is no threat to sack Manning.

Fact: Philadelphia has the most fumble recoveries (seven) of any NFL team.
Fiction: Every Giants’ fan didn’t just think, “Oh (bleep), Larry Donnell is due for a fumble.” 

<![CDATA[Giants Look to Continue Winning Ways Against 49ers]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:38:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/eli+manning+flex.jpg

Sunday night’s game against the 49ers is a statement game for the Giants, the statement being, “Win and prove you can beat a once-great team that has been disemboweled in the last 12 months.”

Has any franchise ever endured a more precipitous drop than San Francisco? Just two years removed from appearing in its third straight NFC Championship Game, the team has been gutted by the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh (who couldn’t make nice with the team’s brass), the sudden retirements of linebackers Chris Borland and Patrick Willis, the not-so-sudden retirement of defensive end Justin Smith, and the not-so-sudden criminal exploits of defensive end Aldon Smith, who was released after multiple DUI arrests and is now plying his trade across the Bay in Oakland.

The team also lost last year’s top rusher, Frank Gore, and veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who also jumped to Oakland. But Eric Mangini is still here! He was promoted from tight ends coach to defensive coordinator. And Jim Tomsula is still here! He was promoted from the guy who never had to talk in public to the head coach who reportedly farts loudly at the podium.

If you encounter 49er fans, give them a wide berth, they’re expectedly shell-shocked, having experienced a decade’s worth of turnover in the space of one calendar year.

With so much change, it’s a tough time get a read on the Niners, who last November beat the Giants 16-10 when New York was in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. San Fran still has quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who will need to have a great game running the read option against the Giants for his team to stop its three-game losing streak.

The Giants have the No. 1 run defense in the NFL, which is helped greatly by the fact the team has the worst pass defense in the league. The 49ers, meanwhile, have the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL, which is helped greatly by the fact the team has the fewest amount of points per game.
Does anyone really think the Giants have the best run defense in the league? If they can contain Kaepernick and running back Carlos Hyde, that most likely means the Niners are finding success through the air with former Raven Torrey Smith and current septuagenarian Anquan Boldin.

This 49ers defense has already surrendered more than 40 points to two teams, Pittsburgh and Arizona. Sure, they looked a bit more stalwart in holding Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 17 points in last week’s 17-3 loss. But the Giants’ offense is starting to hit on all cylinders, with contributions from POTO – Players Other Than Odell.

In last week’s 24-10 win over Buffalo, the team got honorable work from wide receivers Dwayne Harris and Rueben Randle, and the game-changing 51-yard catch and run TD by running back Rashad Jennings.

It’s tough to see the combination of factors that would give the 49ers a victory in this game. Could Eli Manning break from his early-season form (one interception) and put the team’s defense in bad position? Sure. Could punter Brad Wing, who leads the NFL in punts inside the 20, lose his golden touch? Sure. Could the Giants’ No. 1 rush defense get exposed as a fraud? Sure. Could Kaepernick regain the form that had him kissing his biceps after big plays? I sure as hell hope not, as that’s the lamest celebration move in the league and no one this side of a 10-year-old wrestling fan wants to see it.

The Giants are tied with Dallas and Washington atop the NFC East at 2-2. Dallas has to host the Patriots this week, so that’s a loss. And Washington is still owned by Dan Snyder, so who cares what they do, they’re gonna implode eventually.

With a victory, the Giants can start taking control of the division. Last week’s victory on the road against Buffalo was a pleasant surprise. Losing to a 49ers team that is on its heels would be a stunning step backwards.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hero, Nero, Zero for Giants' Win Over Bills]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 09:57:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491318356.jpg

Two weeks removed from a second fourth-quarter meltdown that left them 0-2 and staring into the abyss of a potentially lost season, the Giants have won two games in a row and now find themselves tied for first place in the NFC East.

One can draw direct parallels between the Giants’ 24-10 victory over Buffalo on Sunday and the team’s rise to the top of the division: the G-Men have been helped as much by their own efforts as they have by the shortcomings of their opponents and division rivals.

Buffalo was penalized 17 times for 135 yards and the team was playing without two of its top three playmakers, running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

Yes, a win is a win is a win, and all that bottom line philosophy that Bill Parcells always spouted – “You are what your record says you are” -- but in the interest of offending those people who disdain nuance, let’s acknowledge that the Giants still exhibited their fair share of insanity and ineptitude in the victory over the Bills.

So in addition to handing out a participation trophy for Hero, let’s make sure we hand out a bright flaming fiddle to the game's Nero and a Ziploc bag full of hot air to the game's Zero. No need to bring three different gentlemen to the dais, as all three honors go to Eli Manning.

Hero: Eli Manning.

In advance of this game against Buffalo, which came in leading the league in rushing offense and rushing defense, it seemed incumbent upon the Giants to either stick to their normal game plan for victories -- Odell Beckham Jr. going for 150 yards and two touchdowns, with Manning protecting the ball and the defense producing turnovers -- or to go off-script and get other people involved.

Well, wouldn’t ya know it, the Giants broke from script -- ya know, except for more idiotic late-game play calling (more on that in a bit) -- and received contributions from a wide net of players, including special teams stalwart Dwayne Harris (who caught the game’s first touchdown) and linebacker Devon Kennard (who made a tremendous play intercepting a throw down the sideline).

Add in the game-sealing, 51-yard catch and run by running back Rashad Jennings, who broke several tackles and threw a one-arm shiver into Bills defensive back Baccari Rambo; the team's final touchdown catch by Rueben Randle; and the ongoing brilliance of punter Brad Wing, and you have a Giants victory that was undergirded by contributions from all three phases of the game.

Kudos to Manning on getting so many players involved on offense. Speaking of Eli …

Nero: Manning!

What in the wide world of sports is the matter with that boy? Leading 24-10 with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter, the Giants had third and eight from the Bills 8-yard line. Instead of simply running the ball and (most likely) bringing up a fourth down, which would have prompted the Giants to kick a field goal and go up by three scores, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo called for quick slant pass.

The level of dumb runs deeps with that one. The Giants already earned a permanent spot in the Pantheon of Stupidity when they mismanaged the end of the opening-game loss to the Cowboys. Then they coughed up another double-digit lead to the Falcons in Week 2. And now, on the verge of going 2-2 -- with a victory on the road over a favored opponent -- the team calls for a pass play inside the 10-yard line with a 14-point lead and less than four minutes to play.

The football gods were not sleeping on this one and justifiably steered Manning’s pass into the hands of Stephon Gilmore of the Bills.

There wasn’t a Giants fans on earth who didn’t drop a string of poetic expletives after that demonstration of stupidity. The play call was McAdoo’s, but the ultimate decision and action both rested with Manning.

Zero: Number of interceptions Manning had this season until that boneheaded throw.

It’s a good thing the Giants play in the NFC East, where the divisional opponents are either banged up and delusional (Dallas); unwilling to take the training wheels off the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year (Philadelphia); or still owned by Daniel Snyder.

The Giants threw away their first two games against Dallas and Atlanta, and with consecutive victories over Washington and Buffalo, they should very well be 4-0. They have a generous upcoming schedule -- San Francisco; @ Philly; Dallas; @ New Orleans; @ Tampa Bay -- which could allow them to take control of the division.

They just need to stop exhibiting moronic tendencies late in the fourth quarter.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Face Good Test in Rex Ryan and the Bills]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 10:41:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Rex-Ryan-NY-Bills.jpg

I love Bills head coach Rex Ryan. Even though I don't share his affinity for women's feet, I enjoy many facets of his personality. He's bombastic, opinionated, fun-loving and an occasional hardass. His press conferences are invariably entertaining and he doesn't scoff at reporters with the same unbridled disdain that occasionally bubbles up from Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

I also love Rex Ryan because he's never been the coach of my team, so he hasn't focused 99.999 percent of his attention on his defense and the remaining nanoseconds accumulating skill position players with observable skills.

The Jets had a Super Bowl-worthy defense for several years under Ryan, but the team was always supplying the fewest amount of offensive players to people's fantasy teams. Other than Thomas Jones, who had 1,402 yards rushing in Ryan's first year in New York (2009), the Jets' best skills position players were laughably bad. The leading passers were Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, and the leading receivers were (look away!) Jericho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller, Jeremy Kerley and Eric Decker.

Know what they all had in common? (Ya know, other than terrible quarterbacks.) None of them had more than 1,000 yards receiving while with the Jets. The team hasn't had a 1,000-yard receiver since the pre-Ryan era, when Cotchery notched 1,130 in 2007.

In an era when NFL teams are setting passing, receiving and scoring records, the Jets remained blissfully in the dark ages. Is the Buffalo team that the Giants face this week any different? It sure seems to be, which is why a lot of people are giddy about the Bills, a team which already features a (sometimes) Super Bowl-worthy defense.

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is currently fifth in the NFL in quarterback rating, which would be remarkable if the season were more than three games old and the Bills had played those games against teams with honorable defenses. Indianapolis, New England, Miami are ranked 15th, 19th and 23rd in points allowed per game, respectively, meaning Taylor should do quite well against another mediocre defense -- the Giants, ranked 16th in points per game.

Last week's victory over Washington was a season-saver for the Giants, who at 1-2 are just one game behind Dallas (2-1) in the race toward mediocrity in the NFC East. The winner of this division could limp home with an 8-8 record, it wouldn't surprise me. So how devastating would a loss be in Buffalo?

Let's ask our man on the street, Joey from Meadowlands Park: "Any loss is very devastating, but especially a loss to another New York team."

And that reminds me, Buffalo is from New York, which I always forget because, well, Buffalo.

Without the services of the injured LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, the Bills' offense will ostensibly have trouble matching its year-to-date average of 33 points per game. But they're facing a Giants defense that has only generated three sacks in three games, so Taylor should have plenty of time to find some of Buffalo's other offensive options, including Percy Harvin (provided he can get his porcelain bones to the stadium in one piece, which is never a given); tight end Charles Clay; and third-year USC product Robert Woods.

Oh, and they can also lean on a guy at running back (Karlos Williams) who is averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Is Williams available in your fantasy league? Go check right now. Run. Seriously, hurry up.

The rookie from Florida State ran for 110 yards on 12 carries in last week's 41-14 drubbing of the Dolphins. So just imagine what he's going to do against a defense that doesn't have Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake.

The long lag time between the victory over Washington has tempered some of the bickering about this Giants team, which still has no pass rush, an unreliable running game, few playmakers on defense and a future slot receiver (Victor Cruz) who is in dire need of some good juju.

It's hard to be confident about the Giants' prospects in traveling to Buffalo when you're basically counting on Odell Beckham Jr. to go 150 with two TDs, Eli Manning to continue posting zeros in the INT column, and the defense to continue producing turnovers. Can all three of those things happen? They're going to need to happen in order for New York to travel upstate and raise their record to 2-2 and put them firmly in the hunt in the NFC (L)East.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Best Takeways From Giants' Win Over Washington]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 12:13:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Redskins+Giants+Punt+Blocked+092415+GettyImages-489878872.jpg

The Giants beat Washington 32-21 Thursday night to raise their record to 1-2, a must-win that had plenty of the plays we’ve come to associate with Thursday night football, a brazen money grab by the NFL that typically features two teams still limping along three days removed from their last soiree of sanctioned violence.

Kirk Cousins played terribly? Yeah, didn’t see that coming. The Giants’ defense surrendered 15 points in the fourth quarter? It was like déjà vu all over again, what with the team’s historic accomplishment of being the first squad to throw away two double-digit fourth quarter leads in the first two games of the season.

No, this third game of the season wasn’t altogether pretty, but a win was definitely the best thing the Giants could have hoped for, especially since a loss is an unwelcome thing among most NFL teams.

Let’s look at some other best things associated with the Giants-Washington game.

Best cure for an NFL team’s troubles: Winning.

Best time to jump needlessly in the air: Is not right before you try to catch a pass, Larry Donnell.

Best guess as to what Donnell was thinking when he caught a pass and did a somersault into a defender just as he was about to be tackled: “Whee!!!”

Best take that with you next time: The ball has to go into the end zone with you, Matt Jones.

Best play we’ve seen out of starting running back Rashad Jennings this season: The blocked punt that gave the Giants a 2-0 lead.

Best reception total for a wide receiver through his first 15 NFL games: Odell Beckham Jr., 110.

Best number of receiving yards through his first 15 NFL games: Beckham, 1,574.

Best not do that: Washington had at least double coverage on Beckham for most of the game until that 30-yard scoring strike from Manning, who recognized Beckham was in single coverage.

Best way to describe Beckham’s touchdown dance: A work in progress.

Best rushing offense in the NFL: Belonged to Washington coming into this game.

Best Manning playing quarterback in the NFL right now: Definitely isn’t Peyton.

Best kicker to have in fantasy: Might be Josh Brown if the Giants’ offense continues to stall in enemy territory.

Best chance to see Victor Cruz dance the salsa again: Might come next week when he’s finally expected to return from injury.

Best stat to demonstrate Eli’s effectiveness through three games: Zero interceptions.

Best place to find Giants middle line backer Jon Beason: On the field, finally.

Best time to produce now that Preston Parker is no longer dropping passes for the team: Rueben Randle finally awoke from his early season coma to catch seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.

Best nose for the ball: Prince Amukamara had an interception, six solo tackles and two assists.

Best play made by Washington: Rashad Ross’s 101 yard kickoff return touchdown.

Best time to rest their weary bones: The Giants now have nine days until their next game against Buffalo.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Must-Win Game for Giants Against Washington]]> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 09:28:35 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/beason4.jpg

Thursday night’s game against Washington is a must-win for the Giants. At 0-2, and bearing the ignominy of being the only team in NFL history to blow two 10-point leads in the fourth quarter of their first two games, the Giants’ glass nevertheless remains half full.

Fans are still on board, confident the Eli-Coughlin administration was simply emitting its season’s worth of brain farts in throwing away two very winnable games against the Cowboys and Falcons. But if they lose to Washington at home to drop to 0-3? Yeah, Giants fans will suddenly be much more available on Sunday afternoons this fall to check out the foliage, smash some pumpkins or sleep in a corn maze.

Blowing late game leads to the likes of Tony Romo and Julio Jones are one thing. Losing to a Washington team whose best available wideout is Art Monk (or maybe Pierre Garcon) is something else entirely.

Washington fans are feeling pretty good about themselves and their team after Washington ran at will against a usually stout Rams defense last week, with Matt Jones and Alfred Morris doing an admirable impression of the Earnest Byner-Kevin Mack era Cleveland Browns.

This must stop. Washington fans need to be reminded that the wife of their general manager basically accused an ESPN reporter of servicing her husband to obtain tips about the team. That’s the Washington team we all know and expect. A Washington team on the precipice of going 2-1 and perhaps tying the Cowboys for the NFC East lead? Nope, not a world I want to live in.

The game plan for the Giants should be pretty straight forward. On offense, they need to remind Washington cornerback Deangelo Hall that he is perhaps the most overpaid, overrated, over talking (we’re making that a term) defensive player of the 21st century. If Odell Beckham is targeted fewer than five times per quarter, Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo should be fired. Extreme? Yes, but frankly no Giants fan is going to care who survives the housecleaning if the Giants lose to the most dysfunctional franchise in professional sports.

Will a victory against Washington turn the team’s season around? Debatable. But the Giants’ upcoming schedule –- at Buffalo, San Francisco, at Philadelphia, hosting Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden -– is about as favorable as it gets. Get past Washington and its resurgent running game and vistas of beautiful lilacs will emerge for the Giants and their fans. Lose to Dan Snyder’s traveling freak show and you might as well call it a day because the season is effectively over.

The team gets back a big part of its defense in middle linebacker Jon Beason, who has been injured since the Nixon era. The Giants absolutely need to make Kirk Cousins beat them. Washington hung tough before falling to Miami (which looks less impressive in retrospect given the Dolphins’ week two loss to Jacksonville) and more or less dominated a St. Louis team that had defeated Seattle in week one.

Against St. Louis, Cousins was 23 of 27 for 203 yards and a touchdown, and so he brought honor to his family –- unlike Eli Manning, who has been managing late-game situations like a fourth-grader charged with explaining trigonometry to a stadium full of frothing miscreants.

No more late-game snafus. No more incredulous looks from Tom Coughlin. No more comments like, “Well, at least Josh Brown had a nice game.” Giants fans have already had a season’s worth of stupidity. The indignity of losing to Washington at home will provide them with a season’s worth of everything.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Lose to Falcons, but it Could Be Worse]]> Mon, 21 Sep 2015 11:10:27 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-489334002.jpg

Cheer up, Giants fan, it could be worse.

Sure, your team is now 0-2 after losing to the Falcons, 24-20, becoming the first team in NFL history to blow 10-point leads in the fourth quarter of its first two games. But there’s a lot to be thankful for. Namely, that you’re not a fan of the Cowboys, Eagles or Washington, divisional rivals whose 2015 prospects amazingly look more bleak than the G-men’s through the first two weeks of the season.

The Cowboys? In the words of owner Jerry Jones, they’re as low as a crippled cricket’s ass after learning that quarterback Tony Romo has a broken clavicle and is expected to miss about eight weeks.

The Eagles? They capitalized on the Romo injury by taking the ensuing drive right down the field, ending it with quarterback Sam Bradford throwing a ghastly interception in the end zone. Their offense is a hot mess.

Washington? They’ve won eight games since the beginning of the 2013 season, and while Washington has to be feeling good about themselves after beating a Rams team that last week beat the Seahawks, Washington is still the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL and Kirk Cousins -- 21 interceptions in 15 career games -- briefly went against script by not throwing any passes to St. Louis on Sunday.

Yup, the 0-2 Giants are tied for last place in the division with Philadelphia, while Washington is 1-1 and Dallas is 2-0. But has there ever been a 2-0 team that feels less sanguine about its future than the 2015 Cowboys? If backup quarterback Brandon Weeden can do an adequate Earl Morrall impersonation, maybe the Cowboys can get by with a stout defense, a great offensive line and – who are their top skill players now with Romo and Dez Bryant injured? – oh, right, Terrance Williams, Joseph Randle and Jason Witten.


Who would have predicted that the best QB-WR tandem in the division for the next two months would be Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.? And with a favorable upcoming schedule -- Washington, Buffalo, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, New Orleans and Tampa Bay -- before facing New England on Nov. 15, the Giants aren't dead yet.

At about 4 p.m. ET yesterday, after Manning ended the Giants’ comeback attempt by unsuccessfully throwing to Preston Parker on fourth down -- yeah, I would never have guessed that Parker would come up short in a key moment -- the Giants looked about as low as a crippled cricket’s ass, a term I will be working into conversations as often as possible.

Midway through the fourth quarter, up by 10 points and deep in Atlanta territory, the Giants seemed primed to shake off last week’s devastating loss to Dallas – when time-management stupidity and bad decision-making by Manning did them in again.

Manning was flushed out of the pocket, didn’t sense pressure from behind and fumbled the ball. Instead of -- at worse -- being up by 13 points, the team was on its heels and everyone watching the game could sense that the tide had turned.

How can a team play so well for three and a half quarters and yet feel so insecure that a 10-point lead feels so tenuous at the first sign of trouble? If this were a team with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback, it'd be more understandable. But Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning have seen a thing or two.

Until the Giants manage to close out a game by successfully protecting a lead, fans are going to be on tenterhooks. There was a lot of good things to take away from yesterday's game -- Odell Beckham Jr.'s explosive touchdown reception, some great situational punting by Brad Wing, a recovered fumble by Larry Donnell (!) -- but the running game was largely dormant and the miscues in the red zone (including  Dwayne Harris failing to come to a set before the snap on a third down) continue to kill this team.

Still, who among NFC East fans feels best about their team today? Cowboys fan? Not likely. Eagles fans? No chance. Honestly, it's probably Washington fans, which says all you need to know about how wide open the division will be this season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Do's and Don'ts for Tom Coughlin and Dan Quinn]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 09:47:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/238*120/ap-falcons-julio-jones.jpg

It’s often said that NFL games are typically decided by just a handful of plays. Teams are so evenly matched that a big play on offense or defense -- or in the case of the Giants and Falcons’ week one games, a big snafu by a head coach -- is often the difference in contests.

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin spent the last few days getting eviscerated on television, radio, the Internet, your mom’s Facebook news feed and several other mediums for the Giants’ reprehensible clock management skills and decision-making at the end of last week’s loss to the Cowboys, a game they were leading by 10 points late in the fourth quarter.

To briefly recap: Giants quarterback Eli Manning lost track of how many timeouts the Cowboys had -- thanks, in part to a stupid rule that allowed the Cowboys to not have to burn a timeout to stop the clock after they had committed a penalty -- and so he instructed Giants running back Rashad Jennings to not score from the 1 yard line, but to instead fall short so that the Cowboys would have to burn their remaining timeouts.

Dumb? You betcha, not least because a touchdown would have put the Giants up by 10 points with about 90 seconds left. The game, essentially, would have been over. As we all know by now, the Giants settled for a field goal and then rolled over like dogs looking for a belly rub as Tony Romo led the Cowboys on the game-winning drive, with Dallas winning by 1 point.

Contrast that with what happened in the Philadelphia-Atlanta game. The Falcons had the game well in hand, leading 20-3 at the half -- unlike the Giants, who were damn lucky to ever be ahead -- and almost coughed it away against the Eagles. The coaching play that made a huge difference? It was by the Eagles, not the Falcons.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly was indecisive about running out placekicker Cody Parkey to attempt a go-ahead 44-yard field goal attempt with 2:33 left. If Parkey had the usual time to prepare, the Eagles had a great chance of taking a lead late in the game.

Would the Eagles have held on to win? Hard to say and mostly moot. The point is how the respective postgame narratives developed for Tom Coughlin and Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.

The Giants’ defense was flocking to the ball for most of the game against Dallas, causing turnovers. But the postgame focus was all on Coughlin, Manning and the Giants’ late-game antics. Meanwhile, Jon Gruden couldn’t stop marveling at how the Falcons’ defense flocked to the ball for most of the game against Philadelphia, causing turnovers. Thanks to Chip Kelly’s coaching snafu, that largely remained the narrative for Dan Quinn, the former Seahawks defensive coordinator who was coaching his first game for the Falcons.

Atlanta almost blew a huge lead at home, while the Giants almost held onto a moderate lead on the road. One or two plays made all the difference in how Coughlin and Quinn were portrayed in the media in the ensuing days. And as it turns out, neither of them had much to do with the key, late plays that made the difference in the outcomes of their games.

Coughlin didn’t tell Jennings not to score. And Quinn didn’t tell Chip Kelly to hem and haw about whether to attempt that go-ahead field goal. Regardless, Coughlin came out of the loss to the Cowboys looking to some like an over-the-hill coach, while Quinn came out of the win against the Eagles looking to most like a young upstart who has -- grrr!! -- energized his team.

As coaches, they can only do so much to affect the outcomes of the games. Still, here are some advisable Do’s and Don’ts for Coughlin and Quinn as the Giants hold their home opener against the Falcons. As the coach of the visiting team, we’ll start with Quinn.

Do: expect Giants fans to be loud for the home opener.
Don’t: forget, you're not playing at home, so you can't pipe in fake fan noise.

Do: keep feeding the rock to rookie running back Tevin Coleman
Don't: make me regret my decision to bench Devonta Freeman (and his 1.8 yards per carry) in fantasy football.

Do: blitz rookie defensive end Vic Beasley Jr. as often as possible.
Don't: be surprised if Giants rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers holds his own.

Do: double team Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Don't: miss Beckham in pregame warmups; he likes to put on a show catching balls with his teeth.

Do: throw the ball to Julio Jones as often as possible.
Don't: take after Jon Gruden and start calling him "Hammering Julio."


As for Coughlin:
Do: pray your defense has more sacks this week than it did against the Cowboys (zero).
Don’t: blitz and leave Julio Jones covered by less than five people.

Do: run the ball more than you did last week (22 totes).
Don't: worry, running across the goal line will not vaporize your players.

Do: get more touches for Odell Beckham Jr.
Don't: even think about calling Preston Parker's number on third down.

Do: tell your defensive players to continue flying to the ball.
Don't: get distracted if your team gets hosed on another bogus pass interference call.

Do: go for it on fourth down and short on the Falcons' side of the field.
Don't: settle for four field goals again.

Do: know where your red challenge flag is at all times.
Don't: stick it in your white tube sock, Cliff Clavin.

<![CDATA[Good, Bad and Ugly From Giants' Loss to Cowboys]]> Mon, 14 Sep 2015 09:11:32 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-488132094.jpg

The Giants suffered their most devastating loss of the season so far on Sunday night, blowing a late 10-point lead in Dallas to lose to the Cowboys 27-26. Unluckily for the Big Blue faithful, this was only the first game of the season, affording the Giants 15 more chances to hand away a game in more devastating fashion.

But is that possible? What scenario could you conjure up that would be more nauseating than this loss to Dallas, a hated divisional rival? Maybe if your star wide receiver had a terrific catch overturned on replay during a divisional playoff game in Green Bay. Yeah, that’s what happened to Dallas and Dez Bryant the last time America’s Team took the field. This game didn’t end much better for Bryant, who broke a bone in his foot and is expected to miss four to six weeks.

So cheer up, Giants fans, it could be worse. At least no key players suffered long-term injuries. Besides, there was a lot of Good to be taken away, along with plenty of Bad and plenty of Ugly. Before we get to each, let’s have 40 seconds of silence in honor of that idiotic decision to pass the ball on the goal line on 3rd down with 1:43 left in the game, when Dallas had no timeouts.

Good: The Giants’ defense played terrific against a very good Dallas offense for approximately 53 minutes of game time. Coming into the game, most people expected New York’s offense to be central to any chance of winning on the road, but it was the defense that kept them in it and allowed Eli Manning and the offense to wrest a defeat from the jaws of victory.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie scooped up a fumble and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown, and Brandon Meriwether had a great hit that led to a Trumaine McBride interception that was returned to the 1 yard line. Those guys are all defensive backs, but they were a large part of New York’s offense, too, as the Giants only managed four Josh Brown field goals when operating without the benefit of a turnover.

When your team wins the turnover battle 3-0, you should expect to win handily.

Bad: The Giants’ offense was the definition of mediocre against the Cowboys. Their only touchdown came as a benefit of a Trumaine McBride interception that set them up on the 1 yard line, where Rashad Jennings (13 carries for 52 yards) punched it in. Their leading receiving was the versatile Shane Vereen (4 catches for 46 yards), but Odell Beckham Jr. (4 catches for 44 yards) was largely held in check and Preston Parker was his usual self, dropping key third down passes to kill drives.

Ya know who might have caught those balls? A guy who caught two touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers this week. But somehow James Jones wasn’t better than Parker or Rueben Randle, so he got banished to the offensive graveyard that is Green Bay.

Prior to this week’s game, I predicted that Eli Manning would probably be the player of the game. He had a track record of great games against the Cowboys, including both games last season. But Manning only averaged 5.4 yard per attempt on Sunday night, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was only sacked once, yet he couldn’t connect with his receivers on several important conversion plays.

The Giants’ defense was opportunistic, but as Tom Coughlin said in the postgame press conference, the Cowboys on the last two drives of the game basically cut through the Giants’ defense like a knife through butter. They also got hosed on a bogus pass interference call against Rodgers-Cromartie that set the Cowboys up on the goal line, reinforcing my belief that pass interference calls should be reviewable.

Ugly: If I were a Giants fan and not just an impartial observer, I would be ticked beyond belief about the moronic decision to throw the ball on third down with 1:43 left in the game and the ball on the Dallas 1 yard line. Did New York hire the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator in the offseason? Only someone dumb enough to throw a slant pass to Ricardo Lockette from the 1 yard line (instead of handing off to Marshawn Lynch) would think it was a good idea to have Eli Manning scramble to the flat and look to pass.

Luckily for the Cowboys, Manning doubled down on dumb and — instead of sliding for a sack and eating 40 seconds off the clock — decided to throw it away. This left more than a minute and a half for Tony Romo to lead the Cowboys down the field for the eventual go-ahead touchdown pass to Jason Witten.

After the game, Coughlin said he was taking full responsibility for the error in strategy. Nice try, but we know the call was made by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. His offense did next to nothing all game, and on the one play where it was essentially asked to do nothing, it couldn't even do that.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pregame Flyover: Giants Head to Dallas for Opener]]> Thu, 10 Sep 2015 11:34:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/4594822461.jpg

Welcome to the first Pregame Flyover for 2015! I am so excited for the NFL season to begin that I have just filled my yearly quota for exclamations points.

The Giants open the regular season by traveling to Dallas, whose coaches, brass and fans are convinced that swapping out reigning NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray for a committee featuring an underwear and perfume bandit (Joseph Randle) and a castoff Raiders running back (Darren McFadden) will have no effect on a team that went 12-4 and was basically one Dez Bryant gaffe away from advancing to the NFC Championship Game.

Sure, and paying Bryant an exorbitant contract will have no effect on his commitment to the game.

Every year one or two teams come out of nowhere to surprise the league with how well they play. (Like, say, the 2014 Cowboys.) And every year one or two teams will come out of nowhere to surprise the league with how poorly they play. (Like, say, the 2015 Cowboys.)

Perhaps their implosion will start early, with a loss to the Giants. And perhaps it’s the giddiness associated with the beginning of the NFL season that has me overwhelmed with wishful thinking.

Anyway, let’s look ahead to the game itself, using our old friend the NFL injury report -- Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out – to predict which players, coaches, owners or other figures associated with the game will have varying amounts of influence on the outcome.

Probable Player of the Game: Eli Manning.

Yahoo! Sports football writer Frank Schwab ran an interesting exercise this week, looking at players and coaches who were relative long shots to win NFL awards and trying to pick a winner. He chose Eli Manning, who is 40-1 to win NFL MVP.

Bold choice, but not one I’d get behind. Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and surefire future Hall of Famer, but he also has a penchant for throwing backbreaking interceptions and might be the best elite quarterback to be openly disdained by a large swath of his team’s fan base. That being said, he usually plays great against the Cowboys.

In 21 career games against Dallas (10-11 record), Manning has passed for 44 touchdowns against 23 interceptions for a 91.8 rating (versus 82.4 overall in his career).

Last year he lit up Dallas. In the first matchup, he went 21 of 33 (63.64 percent) for 248 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a 116.7 rating in a 31-21 loss in Dallas – a game that was tied 14-14 at the half and was New York’s first game following the season-ending injury to Victor Cruz.

In the second meeting he was almost equally as good: 29 of 40 (72.5 percent) for 338 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception and 112.3 rating in a 31-28 loss.

If the Giants are to upset Dallas on the road, they must have one of those kind of outings from Eli.

Questionable Player of the Game: Anyone on the Giants’ defensive line.

The NFL has a rich history of great nicknames for collective units. The Steel Curtain, The Doomsday Defense, The Purple People Eaters, The Hogs. Heck, even the Legion of Boom is OK. But the name in common use in reference to the Cowboys’ impressive offensive line – the Legion of Room – is derivative, uninspired and unworthy of a team that likes to peddle itself as America’s sweethearts.

The line features three first-round picks in Travis Frederick, Tyron Smith and Zack Martin, and helped make DeMarco Murray the NFL Offensive Player of the Year last year. Barring injury, the line is set to clear, um, room for whomever Dallas rolls out at running back for the next few years.

With Jason Pierre-Paul out for the foreseeable future, the Giants are going to be hard-pressed to get pressure from its front four. New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is going to have to get creative in pressuring Tony Romo, so look for everyone short of Jason Sehorn to be blitzing from the back seven.

Meanwhile, Cowboys fans, work on a better nickname for that offensive line. After all, the Steelers were offered the nickname of America’s Team first, but turned it down -- so the Cowboys’ best known nickname is basically a hand-me-down.

Legion of Room just makes people think you’re slightly less creative than Seahawks fans.

Doubtful Player of the Game: Brad Wing.

Did you know the Giants have a new punter? Yep, they jettisoned Steve Weatherford and his six-pack abs and brought in Brad Wing, an Australian and therefore the coolest punter in the league. I know little else about Wing as yet, but I know for certain that if he plays a central role in this game – i.e., punting a lot, making heroic tackles – the Giants are doomed.

Out Player of the Game: Greg Hardy.

The Cowboys don’t have a great defense, especially when it comes to putting pressure on the quarterback. To address that shortcoming, the team drafted defensive end Randy Gregory – a great pick and a guy who fell in the draft because he reportedly smoked(es) marijuana to alleviate anxiety – and signed Greg Hardy, who got himself into a bit of trouble last year for a domestic violence incident in which he reportedly beat up his girlfriend and threw her onto a bed covered in automatic weapons and also slammed her arm under a toilet seat cover.

Yeah, Hardy is a Cowboy now, but he has to sit out the first four games with a suspension for that aforementioned incident. But feel free to buy his team jersey, Cowboys fans.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants' Run Game Will Be Central to Team's Fortunes]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 15:50:15 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/177*120/AP922404478511.jpg

When fans and talking heads talk about the prospects for the 2015 New York Football Giants, it’s rare that they talk about the team’s running game. Instead we encounter such questions as:

-- Will Victor Cruz shake off his calf injury, get past last year’s devastating knee injury and return to a Pro Bowl level?

-- Will defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul overcome the loss of his right index finger in a fireworks accident to be an impact player at some point this season?

-- Will rookie safety Landon Collins be the impact player that the Giants will need to keep from allowing 75 points per game?

Rarely is the Giants’ running game mentioned as a key factor in how this team will fare in 2015, and that’s odd considering how important its running backs were to the team’s lack of success in 2014.

New York had the 10th best overall offense in the NFL last year measuring by yards per game. The team had the seventh best passing offense, averaging 267 yards per game –- just ahead of the Packers and the Patriots.

Heady company.

Its rushing offense, however, was more or less dreadful, ranking 23rd overall and averaging 3.6 yards per carry, which ranked 28th. Worse still, the team had the fewest runs of more than 20 yards (four) of any team in the league.

Nevertheless, Tom Coughlin remained committed to the run -- be it Rashad Jennings (167 carries for 639 yards and four touchdowns) or Andre Williams (217 carries for 721 yards and seven TDs) – and the Giants ranked 10th overall in rushing attempts per game.

A pass-run balance is something to aspire to, but should you really keep slamming Andre Williams into the butts of his offensive lineman? Seems sadistic.

Jennings averaged more than four yards per carry in only three games last year – the three games the Giants won in a row against the Texans, Redskins and Falcons, right before the wheels came off the team's season.

Williams, to be fair, showed intermittent flashes and passed the century mark in two games, including against a tough Rams defense late in the year.

Overall the Giants ran for more than 100 yards in seven games last year, going 5-2 in those contests. Considering the team only won six games all season, it’s pretty clear its running game was central to its fortunes.

The Giants’ offensive line is a big question mark in 2015, with all five positions featuring new starters, including rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers. Will the line gel and provide steady running lanes for Jennings, Williams or –- provided he makes the team -- Orleans Darkwa?

That, to me, is a question that is not receiving enough attention.

The team’s fourth and final preseason game against the Patriots was most notable for the absence of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Oddly, Jennings did play in the game, though he only rushed one time for two yards. Meanwhile, Williams carried eight times for 28 yards and Darkwa ran 10 times for 39 yards.

It seems likely that Darkwa, a second-year player, will make the team. That’s good because the former Tulane Wave is the only Giants running back who had a scamper of more than 20 yards this preseason.

Victor Cruz, JPP, the ongoing development of Odell Beckham Jr., and the shoring up of the Giants’ secondary – all popular topics among fans and writers.

But if the Giants’ rushing offense can just finish in the top half of the league, it could help alleviate such concerns.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Own the Patriots Until Further Notice]]> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:38:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/brady6.jpg

The Giants face the Patriots in the fourth and final preseason game on Thursday, a meaningless game that will nevertheless offer the opportunity to remind the Patriots and their fans that the Giants own their souls.

Living in the northeast, I have the pleasure of seeing a lot of interactions between Patriots and Giants fans. In Patriots fans, you essentially have cornered, rabid dogs who are frothing at the mouth and ready to attack anyone who is Other, thanks to a decade-long campaign to undermine the team’s greatness by pointing out supposed red herrings -- Spygate, the alleged serial killer they once employed at tight end, the ball boy who just needed to take the footballs to the bathroom with him on the way to the field for the AFC Championship game.

In Giants fans, you essentially have self-satisfied smirkers, who privately lament the inconsistency of the team in the Tom Coughlin era, but who light up like dog wardens with stun guns when they’re in the presence of rabid Patriots fans -- who not only know that no one outside the Patriots fan base respects the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, but who have to live with the fact they’re 0-2 against the Giants in the Super Bowl.

“A Football Life: Patriots fans confront Giants fans in the wild.”

Tom Brady and Roger Goodell were in New York City this week trying to come to some resolution about those underinflated footballs, and who was there trying to act as mediator? None other than Giants owner John Mara. The Patriots can’t get away from the Giants even when they’re accused of cheating in the AFC title game. How humiliating. If Brady and Gisele Bundchen ever hit a rough patch in their relationship, we should expect that Mara will be called in as a marriage counselor.

Focusing on the Giants’ past successes against the Patriots and New England’s current conundrum vis a vis the stupidest scandal in major sports history is a good way for Giants fans to ignore the obvious -- this Giants team could use another four preseason games in preparation for the season.

The first-team offense has been terrible, the defense looks like it’s often fielding eight players, and two of the team’s most important players (Victor Cruz and Jason Pierre-Paul) don’t seem in line to play in the regular-season opener against the Cowboys.

After Thursday’s game, the Giants won’t play for 10 days, which will give fans plenty of time to ruminate about the team’s prospects against Dallas in the season opener. But what could happen against the Patriots that would engender a whirlwind of confidence? Maybe a couple 14-play scoring drives from the first-team offense, including a no-handed catch by Odell Beckham Jr. (he’s due for one of those), a few 10 to 15 yard runs by Rashad Jennings and a pinpoint throw or two by Manning.

And maybe a few defensive stands against Tom Brady and the Patriots’ first-team offense, including a sack from the likes or Cullen Jenkins (who said this week the Giants aren’t playing with enough fire) or an interception from the likes of Prince Amukamara (who said this week that nothing he has seen from the team makes him confident to begin the regular season).

The preseason is always a cluster bomb of season-ending injuries, false flags, low confidence and weird expectations. Thank heavens it’s almost over, and Giants and Patriots fans can go back to focusing on what’s important -- namely, that the Patriots can’t beat the Giants when it really matters.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Good, Bad and Ugly From Giants Loss to Jets]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 14:20:34 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/coughlin+bowles.jpg

The Giants lost 28-18 to the Jets on Saturday in the annual MetLife Bowl, and there were plenty of good, bad and ugly things on display by the G-men. Let’s highlight the most glaring examples of each.

GOOD: None of the Giants starters suffered a season-ending injury during the game. Sure, you can choose to focus on the nice outing from Eli Manning – 12 of 16 for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns (though one of them was thrown to Antonio Cromartie on a pick-six); the impressive line play from rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers, who kept Manning from getting killed by the Jets’ fine defensive line; or the decent game from Odell Beckham Jr. – five catches, including another ridiculously impressive one-handed grab (though he was out of bounds) – in his first game since the announcement he was supplanting Troy Polamalu as a spokesman for Head and Shoulders. But I’d prefer to focus on the fact that Manning, Flowers and Beckham all made it through the third preseason game without getting injured.

Considering all the injuries across the NFL – including the Jets’ own Leonard Williams, the impressive rookie defensive lineman who suffered a knee injury in last night’s game – just surviving an NFL game is an accomplishment in itself. Sometimes just warming up for a game can be hazardous, as evidenced by Giants defensive lineman Robert Ayers, who busted his ankle just minutes before the team finished pregame warmups against the Jets.

I really hope Tom Coughlin just puts the starters in bubble wrap until the first regular-season game against the Cowboys.

BAD: The Giants’ defensive line. Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who somehow wasn’t good enough to keep his job with the Texans – what with their rich tradition of All-Pro quarterbacks – played a good game against the Giants, going 9 of 14 for 127 yards and two touchdowns. He was basically sitting in a recliner as he played, as the Giants put no pressure on him. Meanwhile, they allowed plenty of running room for Zac Stacy (13 carries for 60 yards) and Chris Ivory (6 totes for 38 yards).

Obviously the absence of Jason Pierre-Paul is a factor, and word is he might be ready to go in week one. Hopefully he’ll steer clear of Robert Ayers during warmups.

UGLY: Special teams. A few years ago, the NFL moved up kickoffs to the 35-yard line in a bid to make the game safer, as more kickoffs would ostensibly end up as touchbacks and fewer players would collide with each other after running down the field at full speed.

A way for players to counteract this safety measure is to run offsides on a kickoff, thus raising the odds that the kick will be done over. This was what the Giants’ Geremy Davis did against the Jets right after the Giants had tied the score, 7-7, in the second quarter. Sure, Davis made up for it on the subsequent kickoff by making the tackle. But how ticked were his teammates to run that far and slam into other players only to have to do it again? Being offsides on a kickoff has to rank right up there with the dumbest ways to annoy a whole lot of teammates with one play.

Meanwhile, the Giant also allowed a 54-yard punt return touchdown. Davis was onsides on that one.

Photo Credit: AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[10 Bets for the Jets-Giants Preseason Game]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:32:55 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/coughlin+bowles.jpg

Allow me to be the first human being to predict that Saturday’s preseason game between the Giants and the Jets is going to be the first of three match-ups between the teams this season. They also meet during the regular season (Dec. 6, when the Jets have to travel to face the Giants) and they will also meet in Super Bowl 50. 

Think I’m sniffing glue? Right you are. But that is irrespective of my belief that both of these teams have the same chance of reaching the Super Bowl as the other 30 NFL teams. The Giants with Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning and Steve Spagnuolo have proven they can reach and win the title game even when they have mediocre regular seasons. And the Jets, well can always trade for Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson before the Nov. 3 trading deadline.

Impossible? Maybe. But still, even without those upgrades at their weakest positions, the Jets can definitely reach the playoffs with their resurgent defense, a reasonable facsimile of Brandon Marshall circa 2012, and a quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) who had a 95.3 passer rating for the Texans last year — and yet somehow got traded to the Jets for a conditional draft pick, paving the way for the highly anticipated Brian Hoyer era in Houston.

Fitzpatrick finished with the 9th-best QB rating in the league, ahead of players like Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick, Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and -- way down at 31st -- Brian Hoyer (76.5).

IK Enemkpali might be playing for the Bills this year, but I’m still picking him as my Jets 2015 Most Valuable Player. Fitzpatrick does not suck -- at least relative to three-quarters of NFL quarterbacks.

Want to bet on a Giants-Jets Super Bowl? Shoot me an email at cdavidmartin@yahoo.com. As always, the wager is this.

In the meantime, here are 10 things I bet will happen in the season's first matchup between the Giants and the Jets.

10. Odell Beckham Jr. will catch his first pass of the preseason. OB3, who last week got angry when Jaguars safety Sergio Brown contemplated the possibility of dislodging him from the ball (which didn’t become a thing because Beckham never caught a ball) is going up against Darrelle Revis, who’s not only the best cornerback in the league, but the savviest contract negotiator. Seriously, has anyone in the free agent era played the game -- both on and off the field -- better than Revis? He’s smart enough to recognize that holding out is one of the few tools a player can leverage to maximize their worth. Giants fans can look forward to the day when Beckham pulls a Revis and holds out for a better deal.

9. Eli Manning will be mentioned as potentially the highest-paid player in the league. Manning is looking to sign a new contract. He figures to make more money than Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, his 2004 draft mates, and thus be the best-compensated mammal in the NFL.

8. Geno Smith will be caught smiling on the sidelines. Smith, who had his jaw broken by IK Enemkpali, is out for a few months, but I’m willing to bet he’ll be grab-assing with teammates on the sidelines. And you can bet that fans and media members are going to lose their minds that Smith isn’t displaying the proper solemnity about the situation. Please smile, Geno. Better yet, make jokes with Sheldon Richardson, the guy who received a four-game suspension for smoking the devil's plant and still has to answer for that whole smoking weed/driving-143 miles per hour-resisting arrest-loaded handgun-12-year-old kid-in-the-car thing. Smith and Richardson sharing a laugh would make my August.

7. A Giants defensive back will taunt Jeremy Kerley (76 overall rating in Madden 2016) for not being as good of a receiver as J.J. Watt (78 catch rating).

6. Leonard Williams will sack Eli Manning. In their last preseason game, the rookie from USC had 5 tackles, 1 ½ sacks and a safety — in less than a half. The “Big Cat” was drafted sixth overall and might turn out to be the steal of the draft.

5. A picture of the MetLife Bowl trophy. Yes, the annual preseason game between the Jets and the Giants is called the MetLife Bowl because it features the two teams who play home games at MetLife Stadium. Try to keep up. The winner of the game is awarded a bronze trophy of Snoopy, the MetLife mascot, wearing a college helmet and mimicking the stiff-arm stance of the Heisman Trophy. No one seemed to consider that the Giants and Jets are not college teams. Well, the Giants anyway.

4. A long interview with new Jets coach Todd Bowles, who sounds exactly like Eddie Murphy in “Beverly Hills Cop” -- ya know, when he makes fun of his fellow police officer by saying, “We’re not gonna fall for the banana in the tail pipe.” Sorry, but I can’t listen to Bowles without thinking of that scene, so now I’m sharing my burden with you.

3. A fight in the stands. You can rest assured that if the Jets ever won a Super Bowl, their fans would quickly become the worst fans in sports. The Red Sox were lovable losers. The Jets are just losers; there is nothing lovable about them. Many of their fans -- but not all! -- are antisocial miscreants. Want a worst-case scenario? The Eagles versus the Jets in the Super Bowl. Everybody in the stands would be wearing green and white, increasing the likelihood that someone would accidentally punch out a fan of their own team. Don't start sending me hate mail. I’m not prejudiced! I have friends who are Eagles and Jets fans!

2. More penalties on the Jets than they had last week. In their last preseason game against the Falcons, the Jets had 17 penalties for 125 yards, and yet somehow still won. Let’s see if they can get 20 and still pull out a W.

1. More players getting injured and lost for the season. A four-game preseason is way too long. Impact players on Super Bowl-viable teams (Jordy Nelson, Maurkice Pouncey) have already been lost for the year, joining a slew of injured players from other teams. Each team should play two preseason games at most. We can still have our beloved MetLife Bowl each year. But do we really need four games, mostly spent holding our breath and hoping players don’t blow out an ACL? By the way, it’s 2015. Why do we even need ACLs anymore? Get on it, Doogie Hausers.

Photo Credit: AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Still on Course to Win NFC East]]> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 09:25:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/457512460.jpg

What I saw of the Giants in their preseason opening loss to the Bengals doesn’t change my opinion of their prospects in 2015. They’re not only going to make the playoffs, they’re going to win the NFC East and make me rich.

Are you laughing? Then you’re a fan of some other team in this division. Every Giants fan I’ve spoken to – and no, I’m not a Giants fan and I rarely talk to myself, anyway -- is quietly confident that this team is dangerous, flying under the radar and could play deep into January.

And why not? They seem to win Super Bowls when they’re least expected to. And after missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years -- with, ya know, a Super Bowl victory jimmied in there -- the Giants are hardly anyone’s pick to be a dark horse this season.

According to Vegas Insider, the Giants are 40-1 to win the Super Bowl –- the 15th best odds in the NFL and the sixth best in the NFC, behind division colleagues Dallas (16-1) and Philadelphia (18-1). If I were a betting man (and I am), then I am betting heavily on future Hall of Famer Tom Coughlin to win a third Super Bowl and ride off into the sunset.

Now, did the Giants add a lot of talent in the offseason? No, but they have the makings of a high-powered offense with future Hall of Famer Eli Manning, a healthy Rashad Jennings at running back, and a dangerous receiving corps featuring reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr., healthy slot maestro Victor Cruz, new Swiss Army knife Shane Vereen, and fumble-prone tight end Larry Donnell.

On defense, they have brought back their old defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo – “He won a Super Bowl with us! He knows stuff!” -- to replace Perry Fewell, who foolishly could not keep his best defensive players healthy last year and so had to go.

Well, no more blaming Fewell. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, ostensibly the Giants’ best defensive player, blew off a finger fiddling with fireworks on the Fourth of July when Spagnoulo was on the clock. So if the Giants can’t get any upfront pressure this year, you’ll know who to blame when you call into WFAN – Spagnuolo and JPP, in that order.

Behind the front four, seldom-healthy Jon Beason returns from injury to hopefully anchor the linebackers, while the secondary – headlined by former virgin Prince Amukamara – can finally showcase the ability that fans were expecting last year, when injuries pulverized the back four.

If the Giants can remain healthy and keep the turnovers in check, they can definitely outclass a division that includes Dallas and its so-called running backs, Philadelphia and its answer at quarterback (Sam Bradford) and Washington and its answer at owner (Gen. George Custer).

Here’s what I’d like to see from the G-men as they enter their second preseason game of the year against Jacksonville:

More offense. The Giants accumulated 15 yards total on nine plays in the first three series against Cincinnati, with no first downs. No bueno. Manning finished 4 of 8 for 22 yards, while the team’s lone touchdown was scored by Orleans Darkwa, the best NFL player named for a city in France. We’re not asking for one-handed catches from Odell Beckham Jr., but we’d like to see something more exciting from the offense. After all, we’re playing the Jaguars, who were nearly relegated to the developmental league after last season.

More defense. The Giants signed two-time Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriwether this week to shore up a secondary that lost four defensive backs to injury (in one half!) against the Bengals. Meriwether, who came into the league with the Patriots, is best known as the guy who consistently aims for the heads of the opposing team’s receivers. Say hi to Brandon, everyone.

More coaching. Frankly, in the Bengals game I didn’t see the passion I need from Tom Coughlin. Sure, we all know that preseason games are largely rote affairs, but how many times did we see Coughlin with his hands on his hips and staring with an incredulous, gaping mouth at some stupidity he’d witnessed on the field? Once? Maybe twice? Not good enough, not when the team lays an egg like they did against Cincinnati.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Draft Recap: Collins Needs to Come Through for Big Blue]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 09:52:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Collins-Giants.jpg

Landon Collins may have been the Giants’ second-round pick in this past weekend’s NFL Draft, but he was their most important addition.

Despite surrendering 400 points last season, Big Blue did little to improve their shaky defense in free agency. Then, with the ninth choice in the draft, Jerry Reese chose Ereck Flowers, a massive offensive lineman from Miami whom the GM likely could’ve landed if he’d traded down another 10 spots.

Undoubtedly, the Giants can use a shot in the arm on the offensive front and Flowers should provide that. But the primary reason the team went 6-10 last year was a defense that couldn’t stop anyone -- at least no one good. They played eight games against playoff teams, and didn’t win a single one, while yielding an average of 33 points per contest.

Can Collins, who was widely regarded as the best safety in the draft, help change that? Reese better hope so, after dealing his own second-round choice (No. 40 overall), as well as his fourth-round and seventh-round picks to the Titans to select Collins with the first pick of the second round (No. 33 overall).

At 6 feet tall and weighing nearly 230 pounds, Collins is nearly as big as your average linebacker, and basically played as one at Alabama, with his best work done in the box and against the run -- an especially weak spot for the Giants. In 2014, the team’s run defense ranked 30th in the NFL in terms of yardage, and they gave up the most yards pers attempt in the entire league.

However, Big Blue’s pass defense wasn’t exactly stalwart either, even as their 47 sacks were among the league’s best. Collins’s 4.5 second 40-yard-dash time ensures that he’ll be faster than many of the running backs and tight ends he’ll be asked to cover in passing situations. Opposing wide receivers may well be more of a challenge, particularly for a player who didn’t get much practice in covering them while in college.

Reese made other moves to shore up the defense this weekend, including the third-round selection of UCLA defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, who the team is hoping is the new Osi Umenyiora -- and not just because of his similarly near-impossible-to-spell name. In the fifth round, the Giants picked up Mykkele Thompson, a safety with size and speed nearly identical to Collins, but a much thinner resume than the Crimson Tide All-American.

But make no mistake: if Collins becomes one of the better safeties in football over the next few years, and Flowers proves worth his lofty draft slot, then the Giants’ 2015 draft will be regarded as a resounding success. But if the two rookies don’t make an immediate impact -- especially Collins -- there may be someone other than Reese calling the shots in the not-too-distant future.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Odell Beckham Jr. Sets World Record For Most One-Handed Catches]]> Thu, 09 Jul 2015 10:58:04 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Odell-Beckham-Jr-One-Hand-Catch.jpg

Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s one-handed grab against the Dallas Cowboys last year may have been the most spectacular catch ever, but on Thursday in Arizona he did something no one else has ever done before.

Big Blue's rookie standout teamed up with Saints QB Drew Brees set the Guinness World Record for the most one-handed catches in one minute, snagging 33 footballs.

According to ESPN, Brees and Beckham were recreating a Visa commercial that aired during the football season showing Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald catching one-handed passes from Brees, Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck and San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick.

In order to break the record, ESPN says that Beckham had to catch at least 10 one-handed passes in 60 seconds. They were set to be given three attempts to hit the mark, but Beckham caught every pass Brees tossed his way on the first attempt.

"He was throwing them perfect," Beckham told ESPN.

Beckham was so sure handed that Brees actually ran out of footballs before the one-minute mark passed, and the Giants wideout had to pass a few balls back to finish the challenge.

Brees said he figures that setting the record will have "everybody and their mom" trying to break it.

Fitzgerald has already said he is going to try to break the record. 

Photo Credit: AP Images for Visa
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<![CDATA[Former Giants Coach Allie Sherman Dies at 91]]> Tue, 06 Jan 2015 04:44:15 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/allie+sherman.jpg

Allie Sherman, the diminutive son of Russian immigrants who coached the New York Giants to NFL championship games in his first three seasons, has died. He was 91.

Sherman's family said Monday that he died Saturday at his Manhattan home.

Sherman's Giants lost to the Green Bay Packers in the 1961 and 1962 championship games and to the Chicago Bears in the 1963 title game. He was the NFL Coach of the Year in 1961 and 1962 and finished 57-51-4 in eight seasons with the Giants.

At 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, Sherman played quarterback at Brooklyn College and spent five seasons in the NFL as a backup with the Philadelphia Eagles. He took over as the Giants' offensive coach in 1959 when Vince Lombardi left for the Packers and became head coach when Jim Lee Howell retired after the 1960 season.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants and Eagles Business as Usual in Week 17]]> Mon, 29 Dec 2014 15:54:33 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/giants+eagles.jpg

There’s a good reason why most fantasy football leagues hold their championship games in Week 16: Week 17 is the most bizarre, unpredictable week of the season, when players who’ve been driving fantasy players to drink all season (Eric Decker) channel the ghost of Don Hutson and catch 10 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown.

It was only Decker’s second 100-yard receiving game of the season, which paired with this Geno Smith stat line (358 yards passing, three touchdowns, 0 INTs) would have won you many a fantasy football championship -- if, you know, you somehow made it to the title game riding the vaunted Smith-Decker bus.

But wait, why am I talking about the Jets and their aberrant behavior? Because their MetLife Stadium bunkmates, the Giants, lost 34-26 to the Eagles in a New York-Philly matchup that could easily have taken place in Week 10, Week 5 or Week 1. Even though that would have meant Eagles’ fans would have been subjected to a full season of Mark Sanchez.

So let it be.

In a vacuum, this Giants-Philly game had pretty much everything we’ve come to expect from both teams. It was replete with an outstanding game from Odell Beckham Jr.; some mind-numbing interceptions by Mark Sanchez; bad special teams from the Giants; a special teams touchdown by the Eagles; a drop or two from a wide open Larry Donnell; a versatile game from Shady McCoy; and a backbreaking interception by Eli Manning (throwing off his back foot, no less) to essentially end the game.

This game would have felt right at home on Thanksgiving Day or, heck, Election Day or Labor Day.

If this was Tom Coughlin’s final game as head coach of the Giants, he can at least derive solace from a very Giants-like effort.

The Eagles, for their part, held a one-game lead in the NFC East with four games left to go. But after losses to Seattle, Dallas and Washington knocked them out of playoff contention, Sunday’s game against the Giants didn’t matter much. The victory got them to 10 victories, which matches last year’s total. Hurray for consistency. Philadelphia Eagles: Super Bowl-free for another year.

The Eagles are an easy target, because they’re the only NFC East team to never win a Super Bowl. Unlike the Giants, who have won their last two Super Bowls with underdog teams that got hot at the right time, the Eagles can never seem to put it all together late in the year.

Maybe next year, when they have a full season of Sanchez.

More likely the Eagles will trade up to draft Florida State lightning rod Jameis Winston.

-Winston could thrive in Philadelphia.

-They have a good team. All they need is a quarterback who is not Sanchez, Nick Foles or one the Detmers.

-Philadelphia helped Michael Vick resurrect his career, and he was eventually embraced in many quarters.

-Fans of the Giants, Washington and the Cowboys would LOVE to root against Winston.”

-When are the Giants going to get some cheerleaders?

-I wonder if my stomach could digest anymore chicken wreath.

Yes, those are the kind of thoughts that can preoccupy a fan when they’re watching the Giants play the Eagles in Week 5 or Week 17

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[What Giants, Eagles Can Be Thankful for This Week 17]]> Fri, 26 Dec 2014 13:09:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-Odell-Beckham-jr.jpg

The NFL is trying something unique with this year’s Pro Bowl, asking designated captains to draft players from the pool of players voted into the game, irrespective of conference.

It’s an attempt to drum up interest in an otherwise meaningless game. That struck me as a pretty good way to drum up interest in another relatively meaningless game -- the Giants versus the Eagles in Week 17.

But then I realized that I basically only want two results from this draft: I want to end up with Odell Beckham Jr. and I want my imaginary opponent to end up with Mark Sanchez, even if that means that I draft no quarterbacks and have to run some form of the wildcat on every play.

Looking at the rosters of the Giants and the Eagles and trying to draft a workable team is pretty depressing, not least because about half of the talented Giants are on injured reserve while Philadelphia’s roster is loaded with people who play for the Eagles.

Draft an injured player or draft an Eagle? A true Catch-22.

It’s amazing how the fortunes of these two teams have changed since they squared off on Oct. 12. Back then, the Giants were 3-2 and the Eagles were 4-1, and one or both looked like legitimate playoff contenders.

But then the Giants settled into a seven-game losing streak, the Eagles lost quarterback Nick Foles to injury, and Philadelphia fans learned what New York football fans learned long ago -- namely that Mark Sanchez has the most inappropriate nickname (The Sanchise) of any warm-blooded male in the four major North American sports.

The 6-9 Giants and the 9-6 Eagles have opposite records, but they actually both have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season, including:

  • Great rookie wide receivers. Odell Beckham Jr. is the most exciting Giants rookie since Ali Haji-Sheikh in 1983. Jeremy Shockey? Please, that guy is at best an honorable mention for all-time Giants name team. But Ali Haji-Sheikh? Unanimous selection as placekicker. Jordan Matthews, the Eagles' rookie receiver from Vanderbilt, served as Sanchez’s safety blanket in the first few games after Sanchez took over for Foles. Next year, Matthews will only benefit from a full season of not having to catch Sanchez’s hospital passes.
  • The season is almost over. Seriously, the end is nigh. And while I will certainly miss writing about the Giants, I won’t miss that look of befuddlement on Tom Coughlin’s face -- ya know, the one he wore for like two months straight -- when someone on his team does something stupid.

This Week 17 matchup looked promising all season. Sure, the Giants were almost certainly going to be playing for nothing. But the Eagles were in the playoff picture almost all season, so it stood to reason the Giants would have the chance to dent the Eagles’ postseason aspirations.

Nope. The Eagles self-dented themselves to the point of ruin, and roll into this matchup with dashed playoff hopes.

The Giants and the Eagles have that in common, but Philadelphia actually has more in common with the Panthers, Cardinals, Falcons, Lions and Vikings, i.e., the other NFC teams who have never won a Super Bowl.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chances of the Giants Having a Pro Bowler in 2015]]> Fri, 26 Dec 2014 13:02:52 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/beckham7.jpg

For the first time since the 1994-1996 seasons, the Giants are on course to send no players to the Pro Bowl. I say on course, because rookie sensation Odell Beckham Jr. is a first alternate, meaning if one of the eight elected wide receivers bypasses the Jan. 25 game for any number of reasons – they’re scheduled to play in the Super Bowl; they realize the Pro Bowl is in Arizona and not Hawaii this year, etc. – Beckham will be the first one called.

How likely is it that Beckham will get the nod? Well, if we were at the height of the diva wide receiver era – when Randy Moss was driving into traffic cops and spraying officials with water bottles; when Chad Ochocinco was the name of a real player; and when Terrell Owens was doing sit-ups for the media in his driveway – then I’d say there was a 100 percent chance that one of the league’s top wideouts would bypass the trip to the Pro Bowl for some reason that made sense to him alone.

But nowadays? Nowadays the best wide receivers in the league are largely model citizens. *Checks TMZ Sports* Yup, none arrested lately.

Let’s look at the eight wideouts named to the Pro Bowl ahead of Beckham and assess their chances of missing the Pro Bowl and opening up a spot for the first-year standout -- which would allow the Giants to separate themselves from the other three teams who also had no one named to the Pro Bowl (Jacksonville, Minnesota and Tennessee) and allow them to match the Jets with one.

And that’s where we stand with New York professional football in 2014.

Antonio Brown: Pittsburgh has a decent chance to make the Super Bowl, which would preclude Brown from playing in the Pro Bowl. If Beckham replaces him, he’ll have to do Brown proud by fielding a punt return and karate-kicking the punter.

A.J. Green: The Bengals and Andy Dalton in the Super Bowl? More likely Green will be the Pro Bowl MVP.

Calvin Johnson: The Lions and Matthew Stafford in the Super Bowl? More likely Megatron will be the Pro Bowl co-MVP.

Julio Jones: There are several reasons why he’ll likely be a no-go in the Pro Bowl. For one, he’s been nursing an injury; for two, the Falcons are still in the playoff picture and can actually win the NFC South if they beat Carolina on Sunday. I really hope the Falcons make the Super Bowl. What, they could put on a worse show than the Broncos did last year? Impossible.

T.Y. Hilton: The Colts might be the most confounding team in this year’s playoffs. If they won it all, I wouldn’t be surprised; and if they lost 98-56 in the first round, I wouldn’t be surprised either.

Jordy Nelson: Two weeks ago, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Nelson and the Packers would be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. That’s no longer the case, as Aaron Rodgers has regressed of late and the team looks a bit shaky. If the Packers don’t reach the Super Bowl, Rodgers will probably skip the Pro Bowl, because he’s dating Olivia Munn, and anyone who spends unnecessary time away from her should be fitted for a straitjacket. Nelson, who was not co-dating Munn as we went to press, would be wise to revel in his first Pro Bowl selection.

Demaryius Thomas: If Thomas is playing in the Pro Bowl, that means the Broncos and Peyton Manning will not be playing in the Super Bowl, which everyone agrees is a wise course of action.

Dez Bryant: Remember when Bryant was getting in trouble with mall cops for reportedly wearing his pants too low? And throwing sideline tantrums when things weren’t going his way? Those days might seem long gone, but winning (which the Cowboys are doing these days) has a way of curing all. If Dallas flames out early in the postseason, Bryant might want to skip the Pro Bowl – not least because he’s a pending free agent, and exposing himself to injury in a meaningless postseason exhibition would be diva-level dumb. Chances he plays in the Pro Bowl? About the same as the Giants winning the Super Bowl.

In closing, I’d say Beckham has a great chance to play in the Pro Bowl.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hero, Nero, Zero for Giants-Rams ]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:06:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-Odell-Beckham-jr.jpg

Sunday’s game between the Giants and the Rams was a tad bit punchy, which is what you’d expect when Rams’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is involved.

Williams, of course, was at the center of the BountyGate saga in New Orleans, where he reportedly created a system that rewarded his defensive players for whispering sweet nothings in the ears of opponents.

Williams was given an extended vacation for his role in that soap opera, but he’s now back and once again leading a defense that’s garnering a reputation for being tempestuous meanies.

Would Williams play Nero in this week’s installment of Hero, Nero, Zero? No, that designation would fall to a kicker, because that’s how crazy the game was.

Let’s dole out the hardware for accomplishments, insanity and ineptitude.

HERO: Giants’ offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

Prior to Sunday’s game against the Giants, the Rams had not allowed a touchdown in three games. If they shut out the G-men, the Rams would have become the first defense since the 2000 Steelers to not allow a touchdown in four straight games.

Would St. Louis, which in the loaded NFC West is largely overlooked as a great defense, be able to hold the Giants out of the end zone for four quarters? That question was answered early in the first quarter after St. Louis return man Benny Cunningham coughed up the kickoff on the Rams’ first possession, and the Giants – already ahead 3-0 thanks to a field goal by Josh Brown (see more below) – scored six plays later when Eli Manning connected with ball hog Odell Beckham Jr. on a nine-yard touchdown.

The Giants offense, which has been up and down all season, was just warming up. The team ended up with 514 yards of total offense, as Manning threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns, rookie running back Andre Williams ran for 110 yards on the ground and wide receiver Rueben Randle had 132 yards and a touchdown.

Oh, and Beckham had eight catches for 148 yards and two scores.

Can we attribute some of the Giants’ success against the Rams’ defense to the Rams’ three turnovers? Yes. But you don’t have two wide receivers and a running back go over the century mark simply because Shaun Hill is the opposing team’s quarterback.

Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo drew up a dynamic game plan and the players executed. The Giants have now won three games in a row. McAdoo will be rewarded with Tom Coughlin getting a one-year extension through 2016, putting off McAdoo’s succession plans as head coach.

NERO: Giants’ kicker Josh Brown.

After a game in which three players were ejected – two from the Giants, one from the Rams – after a melee broke out after Beckham was given a noogie by Rams’ linebacker Alec Ogletree, there was a lot of finger pointing by both sides. The Giants said the Rams were dirty and the Rams’ coach Jeff Fisher said something to the effect of “they started it!”

The Rams and the Giants were both chippy throughout the game. The one thing the Rams’ didn’t do that the Giants did? Have their kicker pig pile a tackle and then donkey kick an opponent in the face. Yeah, Josh Brown was quite the versatile animal on that one play, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

When kickers are getting called for unnecessary roughness, you know you're watching old school football.

ZERO: The value of next week’s Eagles game.

The Giants are on a roll and fans can’t help but be excited about this team’s prospects for next year, especially when Victor Cruz rejoins an offense that is clicking right now.

It would have been exciting to see the Giants face off against the Eagles in Week 17 with a playoff spot on the line for Philadelphia. But then the Eagles went ahead on Saturday and choked up a loss to the Redskins, eliminating themselves from playoff contention.

This next game might mean little in the standings, but Beckham has a chance to tie Michael Irvin’s record of nine straight games with at least 90 yards receiving. The last time he faced the Eagles (in his second pro start), Beckham was only targeted four times by Manning and caught two balls for 28 yards. It was his least productive day in this record-setting rookie season, in which Beckham has the most receptions (79) of any receiver through his first 11 NFL games.

Will the Eagles’ defense go after Beckham like the Rams’ defense did? If so, they better be ready to handle the angry vengeful foot of Josh Brown.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[3 Reasons to Watch Giants-Rams]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:33:55 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/4594822461.jpg


Pop quiz, hotshot. Among NFC teams, which longtime franchise has the best winning percentage against the Giants? If you answered the Rams (25-14 all-time versus New York), then you also probably just visited pro-footballreference.com.

Were you as shocked to discover this as I was? No? Liar.

The Rams, really. I know they’ve had some terrific teams over the years -- making the playoffs eight straight years from 1973-1980, six times between 1983 and 1989 and five times between 1999 and 2004 -- but the franchise still maintains an aura of stink for me. And that’s largely because -- outside of those cluster playoff runs -- the team has been largely terrible.

Has any franchise ever had a bigger disparity between its highs and lows? When the Rams are good, they remain good for years at a time. When they get on a run of losing -- for example like now; they haven’t made the playoffs since 2004 -- they get into a groove, too.

Would you believe the Rams actually have a winning record all-time? Well, they do, 533-531-2. If they lose their last two games this season, they’ll be exactly .500 all-time, which seems fitting for this proud/embarrassing franchise.

The Giants have actually won the last five games in this matchup, which means at one time they actually had a 9-25 record against the Rams. Bizarre? You betcha.

Can the Giants keep the winning streak going? Here are some other compelling reasons to watch this game:

Great rookies

This game features the runaway winner of the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (Odell Beckham Jr.) and a contender for the Defensive Rookie of the Year, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who has eight sacks on the year, including one sack each in the last five games.

The only thing Eli Manning likes more than looking for Beckham (league high 62 targets in the last five weeks) is taking sacks. Look for the announcers to say Beckham or Donald’s name on 44 consecutive Giants offensive plays.

Great coaches

Don’t you ever watch games simply because the teams are led by accomplished coaches at the height of their powers? Coaches like Jeff Fisher and Tom Coughlin? OK, I tried.

Fantasy football

Want to hear me talk about my fantasy football team? How kind of you, please pull up a chair.

I’m playing in my fantasy football championship this week. The guy I’m playing against has Beckham on his team, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because I read somewhere that Beckham is on more championship-participating teams than any other player in fantasy.

What might strike you as odd is that my opponent has the Rams’ defense while I am currently fielding the Giants’ defense. I say currently because, well, I have watched this Giants team all year -- all through the seven-game losing streak, the horrific Manning interceptions, the Larry Donnell fumbles -- and it occurs to me that pinning my hopes on the Giants’ defense is like playing William Tell, except in this instance I’m putting an apple on my head and asking someone to shoot it off with a heat-seeking missile.

The Giants’ defense has been stout of late, accumulating 22 sacks in the last three weeks. But the Rams’ defense has not allowed a touchdown in three weeks, and could become the first squad since the 2000 Steelers to not allow a touchdown in four straight games.

If the Rams’ defense dominates the Giants (which is distinctly possible), the Giants’ defense is going to be in bad situations all game. Decisions, decisions.

My other option is playing the Broncos versus the Bengals on Monday Night Football. So what do you think … hey, where did you go?

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Should Play Jets, Pats Every Year]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:53:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/459081054.jpg

The unpredictability of the NFL is one of its greatest charms, the any given Sunday maxim a central cause of the multi-billion dollar gambling industry that has helped make professional football the most popular sport among four-legged mammals, domesticated or otherwise.

But undergirding this most unpredictable of sports is the most predictable of plans, the NFL schedule. We may not know if the Giants can beat the spread in either of their final two games, but we already know who 14 of the Giants’ 16 opponents will be in 2015, because the NFL uses a staid formula with no room for leeway.

The Giants are playing the Jets, Patriots and Bills in 2015? Roger Goodell and his minions are scheduling savants! They know how to foster rivalries! Yeah, no. The commissioner and his team have no say about who plays who from year to year, which is probably good, because they’d probably have the Seahawks and 49ers play against each other in London each week.

But in proper hands (read: mine) the NFL schedule can be improved, with an emphasis on fostering regional and historical rivalries, while neglecting the perceived need to have, say, the Dolphins play the Cardinals every few years.

Believe it or not, Cardinals fans don’t care if the Dolphins ever come to town, and this is what the NFL fumbles in its construction of the NFL schedule.

As it stands, the NFL uses a very simple formula for determining a team’s schedule.

Per NFL communications:

Under the formula, every team plays 16 games as follows:

• Home and away against its three division opponents (6 games).
• The four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (4 games).
• The four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (4 games).
• Two intraconference games based on the prior year’s standings (2 games). These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place, and fourth-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.

Because of this formula, the Giants (who are locked into a third-place finish in the NFC East) already know who 7/8ths of their 2015 will be. As the consistently great Ed Valentine points out at Big Blue View on SB Nation, the Giants’ opponents are:

Home: Dallas, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Carolina, New England, New York Jets, and NFC West third-place team (“As of now, the third-place team in the NFC West is the San Francisco 49ers, who are 7-7. Sunday's opponent, the St. Louis Rams, are 6-8 and could sneak into that spot over the final two games,” Valentine writes.)
Away: Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, New Orleans, Tampa Bay. Buffalo, Miami, and NFC North third-place team (“The third-place team in the NFC North is the 6-8 Minnesota Vikings. The 5-9 Chicago Bears have a shot at that spot, but they seem to have imploded.)

Is it great that the Giants get to host the Patriots and the Jets? Sure, but this should happen every other year, with the Patriots and Jets hosting the Giants in the alternating years. That’s right, a yearly contest at MetLife Stadium between the Giants and the Jets. How awesome would that be? How many fights would break out in the stands? Probably no more than go down whenever the Eagles, Cowboys Washington come to town. Well, the Eagles and Cowboys, anyway; Washington fans don’t like to travel these days.

It’s safe and predictable for the NFL to say this year’s standings should affect next year’s schedule, but it’s also lazy and idiotic. The last-place team in the AFC North this year is currently Cleveland, who are 7-7 and could finish 9-7. The last-place team in the AFC South is Jacksonville, which has two wins and could finish with, um, two wins.

Some fans complain that the NFC North will send a team with a losing record to the playoffs this year, while more worthy teams (please let it be the Eagles) get left out. But if it’s supposedly unfair to allow a sub.-500 team such as the Saints to reach the playoffs, how is it fair to automatically equate a seven-win team such as the Browns with a two-win team such as the Jaguars?

Listen, there’s no perfect formula for designing the NFL schedule, but the currently boring formula should be scrapped in lieu of a new “formula” that includes:

• A nod to regional or historic rivalries. Pittsburgh and Dallas? These two teams have played in three Super Bowls and need to play more often. You don’t think Steeler fans can hate Dallas fans as much as other fan bases? You are mistaken. Other teams that need to play more often: the Dolphins and the Jaguars, the Chiefs and the Rams, and the Texans and the Cowboys. The 49ers and Raiders don’t need to play more often; jails in California are already overpopulated, so there’s no need to put these two fan bases in a confined bowl. Like ever.

• The formula should also include never playing another game in London. Seriously, just stop. How about Iceland, though? The naturally occurring hot springs would be very therapeutic to players’ aches and pains. Plus it’s a shorter flight from New York and would actually allow the NFL to play a game on a real frozen tundra.

• Pulling team names out of a hat to determine matchups. You think the NFL Draft is entertaining theater? Imagine a scene at Radio City Music Hall, with the commissioner pulling the Eagles’ name out of a hat, followed by him pulling out...the Rams! And you think the booing was loud when Donovan McNabb got drafted.

Now, will such changes to the NFC schedule ever be implemented? Probably not.

Instead we get the lukewarm excitement associated with the NFL’s schedule release in the spring. We already know which teams play which, because the crusty old schedule formula determined that at the end of the previous season.

“But we get to learn WHEN the Giants play the Patriots!”

Come on, NFL. We can do better than that.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hero, Nero, Zero for Giants-Washington]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:22:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/redskins+giants1.jpg

After losing seven games in a row, the Giants have now proven in back-to-back weeks that they are better than a two-win team, the Titans, and a three-win team, Washington. If the Giants had been able to play sub-.500 teams all year, they might have been able to go somewhere. Unfortunately they don’t play in the NFC South, where a 5-9 record will have you fighting for first place.

There was plenty of heroics, insanity and ineptitude in the team’s 24-13 victory over Washington on Sunday, but we can only designate one Hero, Nero and Zero.
Heroes: Giants’ defensive line.
OK, we lied, you can actually pluralize the word “hero.” Who knew?
When the Giants were making the playoffs and winning Super Bowls a few years ago, the team had an amazing ability to put the quarterback on his back. Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Usi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul were avowed quarterback sackers, and this had a magical trickle-down effect – fewer successful plays by the opposition led to more successful plays by the Giants. It was like voodoo.
In recent years, as the Giants have grown wary of the postseason and all it entails, sacks have dropped off precipitously. Well, until the last three weeks anyway, as New York has rattled off 22 quarterback sacks, including seven on Sunday.
Does Odell Beckham Jr. accumulate 12 catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns if the Giants’ defense can’t get off the field on third down? Maybe. Did Beckham deserve to be named “hero” for this game? Probably. Was I getting tired of writing about how great he is? No. I just chose to address his antics under “zero” this week. (Don’t read ahead!)
Nero: Santana Moss.
Football is a laughably imprecise sport. Where the ball is spotted on running plays? Yeah, the refs are basically winging it. Roughing the passer? You can make a great play in sacking the quarterback, but as evidenced by Jason Worilds’ sack of Matt Ryan in yesterday’s Steelers-Falcons game, you can’t make too good of a play. In short, the refs are making it up as they go along, which was further evidenced when they said Robert Griffin III did not score a touchdown as time ran out in the first half.
Was Griffin bobbling the ball as he dove across the goal line? I guess. Was it so obvious that the refs called it a fumble initially? No. Was it such a huge shift of the ball that they should have overturned it on replay? No way.
Listen, anyone with two eyes knows that Tom Brady fumbled when Charles Woodson hit him in the 2001 playoffs, in the so-called Tuck Rule game. I don’t care what the rule books says (or said at the time, anyway, since the rule has since been eliminated). That was a fumble.
Yesterday’s play by Griffin? Not a fumble. But that’s what the refs ultimately ruled, and that’s what sent Redskins’ wide receiver Santana Moss into apoplexy. He cursed at the refs, got thrown out of the game, and the Redskins got slapped with 30 yards in penalties, which allowed the Giants to kick off from Washington’s 35-yard line in the second half. This gave them the perfect opportunity to pull an onside kick, which was successful.
In other news, Santana Moss is still in the league. Who knew?
Zero: Giants rookies with 1,000 yards receiving.
Certain teams are better than others at drafting and developing particular positions. For instance, the Steelers with linebackers, the Colts with quarterbacks, and the Raiders with punters.
Other teams have a comedic inability to draft and develop particular positions. For instance, Washington with linebackers, the Browns with quarterbacks, and the Jets with everything.
It came as something of a shock to learn that the Giants have never had a rookie with more than 1,000 yards receiving. Until Sunday’s game, the rookie record was held by Jeremy Shockey with 894 yards. But with Odell Beckham’s latest stud outing, he now has 972 yards on the season and only needs 28 yards in the final two games to pass 1,000 on the year.
You can check my math, I’ll wait.
Really, is it a wonder that Giants fans are excited about Beckham Jr.? The team doesn’t exactly have a long track record of great wide receivers who don’t shoot themselves in the leg at a night club.
Besides, Plaxico Burress didn’t begin his career with the Giants. And the team’s all-time leading receiver, Amani Toomer, went to exactly zero Pro Bowls during his 13-year career.
The team’s second-leading receiver all time is Frank Gifford, who caught his last pass before the forward pass was even legal. (Probably.)
The third-leading receiver in franchise history? Tiki Barber, a running back. If you can remember the three receivers who round out the top six (Joe Morrison, Kyle Jones and Homer Jones), congratulations, you are old.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Vs. Washington: A Contrast in QB Situations]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:35:06 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/RG3-Eli-Manning-Giants.jpg

John Madden used to say, “If you have two quarterbacks, then you have none,” the sentiment being that you need to have a clear No. 1, not a quarterback controversy.

The Giants have a clear No. 1, Eli Manning. Washington has a quarterback carousel, with Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins all taking their turns this season. Giants’ fans may occasionally bemoan the services of Manning, but at least they don’t have to spread the disdain among his backups. Thanks to Manning’s NFL-high 175-game starting streak at quarterback, 175 percent of Giants fans can’t pick backup quarterback Ryan Nassib out of a police lineup.

Two years ago, Washington was seemingly flush at quarterback. RGIII won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, and Cousins filled in tremendously when Griffin went down with injury. Both seemed like legitimate franchise quarterbacks.

But then Mike Shanahan’s administration decided to rush RGIII back from injury, Griffin subsequently blew out his knee in the 2012 playoffs and hasn't been the same since, and Cousins revealed himself to be lackluster.

Now, less than two years after being named a better offensive rookie than Andrew Luck, RGIII is reportedly punting balls to himself at Washington practices and seemingly on the fast track to a padded room with no windows.

Such is the life of a quarterback who has Colt McCoy looking over his shoulder, I guess.

Manning, conversely, has had a vise grip on the starting job since late 2004. Sure, he’s led the NFL three times in interceptions over that time, but he’s also led the team to two Super Bowl wins.

Additionally, the Giants did him the huge favor of never bringing anyone in to challenge him. Maybe that’s stupid on the part of the Giants (especially since the team has now missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six years), but Manning has never been the sole thing holding this team back.

Say what you want about Manning, but as quarterbacks go, he’s as tough as they come. Since 2004, he’s been sacked 278 times, and yet he’s still got the longest active starting streak among NFL quarterbacks.

Maybe Giants fans wish he had taken a game or 10 off, but honestly, what QB situation would you rather have? The one in New York, where there is a clear No. 1 (albeit a low-end No. 1 these days), or the one in Washington, where there’s a collections of No. 2s?

Since Manning began his starting streak in November 2004, Washington has started these quarterbacks: Patrick Ramsey, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy.

You can’t unsee that.

If the Giants do make the decision to part ways with Manning after this season, saving $17.5 million against the salary cap, then rest assured that teams like Washington will be lining up for his services.

Is Manning an elite quarterback? No. But he’s a clear No. 1, which is always better than having two No. 2’s.

<![CDATA[Last Time for Some in Giants-Washington Rivalry]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 09:48:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/RG3-Tom-Coughlin-NYG-Wash.jpg

A lot has changed since the Giants faced Washington in Week 4. Washington and its fans have gone from loving quarterback Robert Griffin III to essentially washing their hands of him, the Giants went on a mid-season sabbatical that saw them lose seven games in a row, and both teams answered the question of whether they’d like to participate in the 2014 playoffs with a Bartleby-like “I’d prefer not to.”

Needless to say, this is the last time these two hated rivals will be facing off this year. For some of the game’s participants, it might be the last time they are involved in the rivalry, with the numerous question marks surrounding the futures of coaches, players and mascots on both sidelines.

So let’s use your old friend -- the NFL injury report -- to gauge whether this is last time certain figures will take the field for a Washington-NYG game.

Probable Last Game in this Rivalry: Robert Griffin III.

The last time a player fell from favor this quickly (Jamie Foxx in “Any Given Sunday”), Lawrence Taylor chain-sawed his car in half. Washington coach Jay Gruden has reportedly tired of Griffin’s act, lamenting the third-year player’s poor work habits and poor footwork, not to mention his willingness to throw teammates under the bus when the team loses.

Have other quarterbacks (namely, Peyton Manning) also tossed teammates towards the undercarriage of large vehicles? Yes. The difference is that Manning is a maniacal worker, whose knowledge of the game is more or less unparalleled in the game today.

Griffin, who won the Offensive Rookie of the Year two years ago, needs a change of scenery, and the Redskins -- who traded a king’s ransom to the Rams to move up and draft him in the 2012 draft -- will be lucky to get back 30 cents on the dollar in a trade.

Questionable Last Game in this Rivalry: Tom Coughlin.

Coughlin has one year remaining on his contract, and it seems unlikely the Giants will extend the league’s oldest coach with a new deal. Maybe they give him an added year, a way of a) saying thanks for the two Super Bowls, and b) here’s one last chance to make a run with a (hopefully) healthy team with talent on both sides of the ball.

Would Coughlin turn down a one-year extension? Not likely. No team is going to hire him to rebuild a franchise at his age. Well, maybe Washington, but Coughlin probably doesn’t have a death wish.

Doubtful Last Game in this Rivalry: Eli Manning.

Manning counts $17.5 million towards next year’s salary cap, so the Giants might cut him to clear space. Will they? It’s possible. But where would that leave them?At the doorstep of the Ryan Nassib Era?

I’m sure Nassib’s family loves him, but the rest of the NFL has no idea what he brings to the table, because Manning never misses a start and has played just well enough for sane fans to not call into Mike Francesa and pant heavily about giving Nassib a shot.

Manning will be back, and with luck he’ll have a full season from Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Rashad Jennings and Larry Donnell’s hands.

Out Last Game in this Rivalry: Washington mascot.

Despite polls that say an overwhelming majority of NFL fans consider Washington's mascot to be racist and disparaging, team owner Dan Snyder has adamantly refused to change it. He, along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, claim the franchise honors Native Americans with its name and logo.

If you needed any more proof that there’s no getting through to Snyder and Goodell, just remember that the team’s name begins with the word "red" and that the skin color of the Native American on the team's helmet is, uh, brown. It’d be like if the Red Sox wore the socks of the Cleveland Indians.

To quote Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” “Morons, your bus is leaving.”

<![CDATA[2014 Got the Best of the Giants]]> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 06:23:45 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/giants+best+of+2014.jpg

It’s with a heavy heart that I deliver some distressing news: The New York Giants are done playing football for 2014. Moreover, the Giants will not be playing meaningful football for the first eight months of 2015. In short, the Giants are asking you for a trial separation, a time for you to regroup, sow your oats, and decide if you want to resume this relationship sometime around Labor Day 2015.

Go ahead, see what’s out there. Spend January and February flirting with other teams – ya know, playoff teams – but try to keep one eye on your existing relationship. Unless, like me, you have an open relationship with the Giants and are willing to sell your allegiance to the flavor of the month.

Team loyalty? Bah, what is this, the 1970s? We swing now, baby.

If you’re a bit discouraged by the team’s 2014 season, well, I’m not here to remind you of all the worst things about the team. No, no, I’m here to point out the best. So let’s do this:

Best team in Giants history: Probably played some other year.

Best thing about the end of the Giants’ 2014 season: No more losing!

Best surprise in the first half of the 2014 season: Larry Donnell.

Best disappearing act in the second half: Donnell.

Best reason for that: He misplaced his hands and never found them again.

Best man to lead the Giants in 2015: Apparently Tom Coughlin.

Best secondary the Giants have had in a while: Didn't play together very long thanks to injuries.

Best performance against the Giants this year: The 350 rushing yards by the Seahawks in Week 10.

Best comeback in Jaguars history: Came when the Giants surrendered a 21-0 lead on November 30.

Best QBR of Eli Manning’s career: 98.1 in 2014.

Best consecutive starting streak among NFL quarterbacks: Manning.

Best team that played home games at MetLife Stadium this year: The Giants.

Best dance we never saw after Victor Cruz went down with an injury: The salsa.

Best time for the Giants to enter the 1970s and get some cheerleaders: How about now?

Best hold your breath: The Giants like to think of themselves as too old school and classy for cheerleaders.

Best word for Giants’ 24-24 all-time playoff record: Meh.

Best point differential since winning their last Super Bowl: -20 in 2014.

Best logo they could come up with: Seriously, the team replaced the word “Giants” (which was underlined) with an “NY” (which is also underlined)?

Best get over it: I know, I know, they replaced the logo years ago, but boring never dies.Best rusher on the Giants: Was a rookie, Andre Williams.

Best receiver on the Giants: I don’t know, jury’s still out on that one.

Best Giants rookie ever: Still Lawrence Taylor.

Best Giants rookie ever (judging strictly by name): Ali Haji-Sheihk.

Best catch you've ever seen: Odell Beckham Jr.’s one-handed catch against the Cowboys.

Best you've ever seen is something better: Really? If so, please send me the video at cdavidmartin@yahoo.com.

Best record that the Giants had at some point this season: 3-2.

Best way to describe the Giants’ organization: The Feast-or-Famine Franchise.

Best believe it: Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning is a future Hall of Famer.

Best be updating his resume: Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell might be this year’s designated fall guy.

Best young receiving corps in football: Rueben Randle, who had more than 900 yards receiving and is only 23, will be the No. 3 receiver when Victor Cruz returns.

Best consequence of the Giants’ injured-filled season: Backups got a lot of experience.

Best thing about drafting No. 9 in the upcoming draft: Beckham, taken at No. 12 last year, proved that top-tier talent can fall.

Best hope that one of the eight wide receivers ahead of Beckham bows out of the Pro Bowl: Otherwise the Giants won’t have a Pro Bowler for the first time since 1996.

Best opportunity for the Patriots to end their Super Bowl-winning drought: Because they can’t lose another Super Bowl to the Giants. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hero, Nero, Zero for Giants-Titans Game]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 12:38:06 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/460112660.jpg

Admit it, when Eli Manning threw the pick-six to shrink the Giants’ lead to 30-7 in Sunday’s game against the Titans, a part of you -- because you were obviously watching -- wondered if Eli and his cohorts had it in them to blow a 30-point lead.

Last week they coughed up a 21-0 lead to Jacksonville and handed (fumbled?) the Jaguars its biggest comeback in franchise history. Could the Giants extend their season of giving by presenting the Titans with the biggest comeback in that team’s history?

No, Eli didn’t quite have it in him this time, and the pick-six turned out to be a momentary blip (and a horrific reminder of his ever-present potential) and the Giants beat the Titans 36-7.

Following the game, our blue ribbon panel once again convened to hand out honors to those who performed heroically, insanely and with ineptitude.

Hero: Giants rookies

On Friday I predicted that Odell Beckham Jr. had a decent chance of breaking Flipper Anderson’s 25-year-old record of 336 receiving yards in this game, because Beckham is awesome, Eli has shown himself to have few qualms about throwing it up for grabs and hoping his receiver makes a big play, and the Titans were coming off a game in which they allowed 238 yards receiving to DeAndre Hopkins.

Beckham didn’t disappoint; at first, anyway.

He had six catches for 98 yards and a touchdown -- in the first quarter. I’m no math wizard, but that put him on pace for nearly 400 yards receiving, which would have easily shattered Anderson’s mark and made this game historic.

But nooooo, fellow rookie Andre Williams had to go and be all productive on the ground and stuff, running for 131 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown of his own.

A well-balanced offense is the ideal when a team is in playoff contention, but when they’re playing out the string, we want ball hogs and broken records. Wise up, Giants rookies.

Nero: Titans fans with bags on their heads.

Life is short and there are innumerable ways to spend your Sunday afternoon. You can go to the park; take to the highway to drive slow in the passing lanes; or maybe sit in a bookstore and read an entire book and then put back on the shelf without having to pay for it.

In short, there are plenty of relaxing, enjoyable ways to spend 50 percent of your weekend. But attending a football game and wearing a paper bag over your head? That's what some Titans fans did to register their disgust with the team's play. Seriously, just save on paper and just write an L on your forehead. Ya know, because it’s the team that’s a bunch of losers.

Zero: Sense out of Antrel Rolle and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

When you’ve gone more than two months without winning a football game, it’s understandable if you’re a little excited that the team’s fortunes have shifted (for the time being, anyway) and the team is finally winning.

After Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie scored on a pick-six -- a high-stepping touchdown that was negated after Giants’ defensive lineman Damontre Moore de-cleated Titans’ quarterback Zach Mettenberger -- Antrel Rolle celebrated by taking a “snapshot” of Rodgers-Cromartie, who mugged for the camera.

This team had lost an NFL-high seven games in a row, and was now winning a meaningless game against the Titans. But two veterans, who probably should know better, decided that was a good opportunity to make a Kodak moment.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Manning Should Give Beckham Shot to Break Record]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:51:21 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP747099438720.jpg

The 3-9 Giants face off against the 2-10 Titans on Sunday, a game that could end the current longest losing streak in the NFL -- Giants, with seven -- while simultaneously handing that honor to the Titans, who are tied with the Panthers for second-longest streak at six..

Giants! Titans! Something has to give in this battle of the largies!

Knowing how these two teams have played this season, the game will probably end in a scoreless tie.

If a team ties in a game, does that end its losing streak? Should it? I picked Cincinnati in my survivor pool earlier this year when the Bengals were playing the Panthers, and true to their Bungles nature, Cincinnati didn’t win or lose. They tied, which was as good as a loss in my survivor pool, where the prevailing edict is “win and advance.”

If you’ve made it this far in your own survivor pool, I hope you’re not forced by the remaining choices to pick either the Giants or the Titans this week. But if you are, you’ll at least have a good reason to watch the game. And really, do you need a good reason to watch NFL football? What else are you going to do, hang out with your friends or family? You just had a whole long week of that jazz over Thanksgiving, and you’ll have plenty more during the remainder of the holiday season.

You might as well sit back, watch football, and shop for presents on Amazon (because if you step foot inside a mall in December you deserve all the needless anxiety).

On the face of it, a Giants-Titans matchup is not that intriguing. But beyond the well-chronicled questions seeping from the carcass of the Giants’ 2014 season -- Will Tom Coughlin be fired? Will Eli Manning be brought back next season? Is recent parolee Ryan Leaf the answer at quarterback? There are plenty of reasons to be intrigued by this game.

The top reason? These are the two of the four worst defenses in the NFL, so we just might witness the shattering of some NFL records.

If you watched the Giants blow a 21-0 lead to the Jaguars last Sunday, you know that no New York lead is safe. And if you watched the Titans get trounced 45-21 by the Texans, then you know the Titans are so bad they made Ryan Fitzpatrick-to-DeAndre Hopkins look like Chad Pennington-to-Randy Moss.

Fitzpatrick had 358 yards passing and Hopkins had 238 yards receiving. Can Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. surpass those numbers? They might as well try.

But this game won’t be all about duck and chuck. Plenty of other players on both sides of the ball are auditioning for future roles, either with their current teams or with other organizations. Players like Giants’ defensive end Damontre Moore, who is going to have the opportunity to get extended playing time following the season-ending injuries to Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers.

Games like this might look meaningless, but they never are. Especially if you made the fantasy playoffs and have Beckham on your team.

In short: Chuck it, Eli. Chuck it like you’ve never chucked it before. If you can give David Tyree a lifetime’s worth of free meals in New York City, then you can give Beckham a shot at breaking former Ram Flipper Anderson’s 25-year-old record of 336 receiving yards.

It’s astounding in this era of record-breaking passing records, that Anderson’s mark -- set against the Saints -- still stands. Sure, some guys have approached the record (including Calvin Johnson, who had 329 yards against the Cowboys last season), but none have surpassed it.

What a treat it’d be to witness that on Sunday, when I could be out at a mall shopping for presents. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[The Giants: Then and Now]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 13:53:28 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/113014fumble.jpg

The 3-9 Giants have lost an NFL-high seven games in a row, with their last victory coming on Oct. 5 against Atlanta. A lot has happened in the interim, including two losses to the Cowboys and the largest comeback in Jaguars history, courtesy of the Giants last week.

The temptation is to say that nothing good has happened during the Giants’ current skid, but don’t be tempted by lies. Plenty of good things have happened; just most of them have happened to other teams.

To get a sense of how far we’ve come since Oct. 5 – as a people, as a nation, but most importantly as football fans – let’s play a little Then and Now.

Then: The Giants were 3-2 and fans were hopeful of a successful season.
Now: Fans are taking it out on their friends and family.

Then: Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara had lost his virginity and was having a career year.
Now: Amukamara is out for the season with an injury, presumably not caused by finding his virginity.

Then: Odell Beckham Jr. played his first career game against the Falcons and also caught his first NFL touchdown pass after missing the first month due to injury.
Now: Beckham hasn’t done anything memorable since.

Then: Derek Jeter had barely been retired a week.
Now: He runs a website where Tiger Woods defends his great sense of humor.

Then: Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
Now: Desperate fantasy owners are adding him to their roster for the fantasy playoffs.

Then: The best headline I’d read in 2014 was “Pig in Australia Steals 18 Beers from Campers, Gets Drunk, Fights Cow.”
Now: Nothing has changed.

Then: Victor Cruz was the team’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Now: Cruz is among an NFL-high 20 Giants on injured reserve.

Then: No one was talking about Eli Manning’s 2015 cap hit.
Now: It’s frequently mentioned in the same sentence as Tom Coughlin’s 2015 job prospects.

Then: Florida State was undefeated (5-0) and No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.
Now: Florida State is undefeated (12-0) and No. 2 in the poll behind Alabama (11-1).

Then: Yankee fans were looking forward to the team re-loading during free agency.
Now: Yankee fans are looking forward to a team led by Alex Rodriguez.

Then: Jason Pierre-Paul was the Giants’ best pass rusher.
Now: The Giants’ best pass rusher (Robert Ayers) is on injured reserve.

Then: Many people were touting the new West Coast offense implemented by new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
Now: Hardly anyone is still talking about him as the successor to Tom Coughlin.

Then: The Giants were about to win their third world title in five years.
Now: When it comes to the New York Giants, we might as well be talking about baseball.

<![CDATA[Giants Are The NFL's Worst Team]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 06:26:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/Giants-Cowboys010.jpg

So it’s official, the 2014 New York Giants are the worst team in football. Do they have the worst record? No, but they just lost to the team that was tied for the worst record, so that makes them the worst. And really, with an NFL-high seven game losing streak, the 3-9 Giants have a lot of material to support their case for the league’s worst team.

With four games remaining, New York is still in the running for the No. 1 draft pick. Who should they target in the draft? Here are some candidates.

1. A Tight End Who Doesn’t Fumble.

Larry Donnell was not drafted out of Grambling, which prompted some people to scratch their heads earlier this year when Donnell caught three touchdown passes against the Redskins. It looked like the start of great things for the second-year tight end. Little did we know but that was actually the start of the end for Donnell’s 2014 season.

He had a back-breaking fumble against the Cowboys, but yesterday’s cough-up against the Jaguars took it to another level, as the fumble was returned for a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

2. A Quarterback Who Doesn’t Fumble.

Did you pick up the Jaguars’ defense in your fantasy league in advance of the game against the Giants? If so, you’re a genius (but also probably a moron). Who could have predicted Gus Bradley’s defense would score two defensive touchdown against the Giants? One came when Donnell coughed up the ball, another when Eli Manning fumbled into the end zone and Rashad Jennings decided it’d be wise to try to pick it up and run with it, a decision that cost the team five points.

3. A Coach Who Gets Through to His Players.

Can you draft a coach? Probably not. But if you could, it’d be worthwhile to get one who can convey to his players the importance of maintaining possession of the football. Larry Donnell needs to be treated to a private screening of “The Program” starring Mike Tomlin, in which head coach James Caan makes the freshman running back carry a football with him at all times while teammates make efforts to strip him of the ball, all in an attempt to cure him of his tendency to fumble.

4. A General Manager Who Signs Players Who Don’t Get Injured.

Jerry Reese put together a talented secondary this season, but Walter Thurmond and Prince Amukamara are out for the year with injuries, and the defense has suffered. Middle linebacker Jon Beason has also been injured most of the season, wide receiver Victor Cruz went down for the year with a knee injury, and starting running back Rashad Jennings missed a handful of games due to an injury, too.

Unfortunately for the Giants, it’s not possible to draft a general manager, infallible or otherwise.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Coughlin, Former Jags Coach, Returns to Jacksonville]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 12:14:33 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/4594822461.jpg

You probably won’t be able to read this article until they fix the Internet, which Odell Beckham Jr. broke last week when our nation flocked to social media to OMG en masse after his one-handed catch against the Cowboys on Sunday night.

That game was on national television, so Beckham had the perfect stage to impress a whole slew of people. This Sunday’s game against the Jaguars is going to be on television in the Jacksonville and New York City markets, whose potential audiences have roughly 73 better things to do than watch the 1-10 Jaguars host the 3-8 Giants in the Tom Coughlin Bowl.

Yup, the former Jaguars coach returns to the city where he got his first NFL head coaching job. None of the players he had are still with the Jaguars, a franchise which also has a different ownership group than it had during Coughlin’s tenure. In short, Coughlin might recognize a couple faces among the fans – like that one rabid Jaguar fan, or that other big Jacksonville rooter – but it’s unlikely he’s going to get a hero’s welcome. Which is too bad, because Coughlin is a direct tie to the team’s greatest seasons.

He led the team to the AFC Championship Game in its second year in 1996, helped end the NFL careers of both Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson when the Jags trounced the Dolphins 62-7 in the 1999 playoffs, and led the Titans 14-10 at halftime at home in that year’s AFC Championship Game before the 14-2 Jaguars were outscored 23-0 in the second half. At home. In the AFC Championship Game.

Yeah, I doubt we’ll see many highlights of that game on the jumbotron, although it’s the biggest home game in Jaguars history. This home game? Just one more thing that stands between the Jaguars and the potential No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Still, the Jags have plenty of things to be hopeful for in the long term. First-year quarterback Blake Bortles has the look of a franchise guy, the wideouts – led by rookies Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns – are promising, and fan expectations have nowhere to go but up.

If I’m a Jaguars fan (thankfully, just a hypothetical), I’m pretty excited about the future, at least in comparison with the present and the past.

For the Giants, this was the portion of the schedule they’d been looking forward to. With games against Jacksonville, Tennessee, Washington and St. Louis, the underbelly of the Giants’ 2014 season was supposed to provide the late-season surge that could carry them into the playoffs.

But the team enters this Jacksonville game on a six-game losing streak, the longest in the NFL after the Raiders beat the Chiefs to snap their streak. Any time you’ve lost more consecutive games than the Raiders, you’re in bad shape.

But if I’m a Giants fan, I’m pretty excited about the future, too. Beckham is a transcendent talent, the secondary is talented when healthy, and because of injuries a lot of second- and third-string players are getting valuable playing time, which will benefit the team down the line.

But if the past few weeks were must-wins for the Giants’ 2014 playoff hopes – now dashed, of course – this week’s game against the 1-10 Jaguars is a must-win for Tom Coughlin’s 2015 employment hopes.

The Giants are a patient franchise, not given to the knee-jerk reactions that straddle franchises like the Redskins and Raiders. But the Giants are looking at a fifth season in six without making the playoffs. And though they used that lone playoff season to win a Super Bowl, “The Feast-or-Famine Franchise” is not a particularly dignified nickname.

But that’s what they are; the handle fits.

If nothing else, the Giants like to fashion themselves as a dignified franchise. It can come off as condescending and off-putting, but it’s a real thing. And losing to the 1-10 Jaguars would be the height of indignity in the Tom Coughlin era.

So while the Tom Coughlin Bowl might not mean much to fans of either franchise, it might mean a whole lot to its namesake.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants and Jets on Track to Make History]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 12:13:26 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/giants+helmet.JPG

If you haven’t been following the 3-8 Giants and the 2-9 Jets closely this season, you might be excused for missing the teams’ combined bid for New York football history. If the season ended today (and man, wouldn’t that be a blessing to both fan bases), the five combined wins would be the lowest such total since the NFL expanded to a 16-game season in 1978.

Did you know you might be witnessing history? You’re welcome.

Since 1978, the lowest combined win total for the two teams came in 1996, when the 6-10 Giants and the 1-15 Jets splashed the back pages of New York newspapers with seven total wins. The next worst win total came the year before, when 5-11 Giants and the 3-13 Jets combined for eight victories, a total they also accomplished in 1980.

I’m not merely taking the opportunity to bash the two franchises during a down year (OK, way down). It should be noted that there have been years since 1978 when both teams were very good (and in one team’s case, even won a Super Bowl or four).

But more often than not the two teams have never been on both sides of the see-saw at the same time. They’ve both reached the playoffs in the same season just five teams since 1978, the last time in 2006.

Apparently spoiling the concessionaires who get to watch both teams at the Meadowlands has never been a going concern.

In the Giants’ five Super Bowl runs, the Jets were also in the playoffs just once, in 1986, when the Jets went 10-6, won their playoff opener against the Chiefs, and then lost to the Browns in overtime in the divisional round.

Was 1986 the best year for New York football? Probably. The combined win total (24) is the most in the 16-game era. The Giants won the Super Bowl, and the Jets started out 10-1; but they lost their last five games, and limped into the playoffs with a negative point differential, which is very Jets-like.

When the Jets had their best team in the 16-game era, the 12-4 team from 1998 that had a positive point differential of 150 points, the Giants had 8 wins. Even when the Jets are great, the Giants have traditionally been average, never awful.

The biggest disparity in wins (to the Jets favor) came in 2004 and 1983, when Jets won four more games than the Giants. Conversely, the G-Men had eight more wins than the Jets in 1989 and seven more wins in 1990.

Here are the combined win totals since 1978, with the dual playoff years in bold and some additional comments below.

2013 -15
2012 -15
2011- 17
2010 -21
2009 - 17
2008 - 21
2007 - 14
2006 - 18
2005 - 15
2004 - 16
2003 - 10
2002 - 19
2001 - 17
2000 - 21
1999 - 15
1998 - 20
1997 - 19
1996 - 7
1995 - 8
1994 - 15
1993 - 19
1992 - 10
1991 - 16
1990 - 19
1989 - 16
1988 - 18
1987 - 12
1986 - 24
1985 - 21

1984 - 16
1983 - 10
1982 - 10 *strike year
1981 - 19
1980 - 8
1979 - 14
1978 - 14

It’s notable that the teams won 10 games in the strike-shortened 1982 season, which only comes in tied for fourth in the most win-starved years in New York football history.

Also notable? The last time both teams had new head coaches was in 1997 (Bill Parcells and Jim Fassel), or the year after the teams combined for seven wins and the worst season in New York football history.

Does that portend pink slips for Tom Coughlin or Rex Ryan? For both?

Safe to say, if the combined win total doesn’t creep any higher than five, New York professional football will be getting its first complete head coaching overhaul in nearly 20 years.

<![CDATA[Beckham's One-Handed TD Catch Really the Greatest?]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:41:31 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/459482246.jpg

The football was hurtling past Odell Beckham Jr. when the Giants rookie squeezed it with his right hand, stopping its momentum before cupping it safely over his blue jersey.

He did this while stretching parallel to the turf. In the air.

And for good measure, he was interfered with by Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr, who tumbled helplessly out of bounds as Beckham's momentum carried him over the goal line for a 43-yard touchdown and a 14-3 Giants lead.

The play was reviewed because Beckham did things in midair that are simply not believable to the naked eye. The officials had to see it again.

We all did.

It was quite possibly the greatest catch ever seen on a football field, according Beckham’s Giants teammate Victor Cruz. And LeBron James. And well, for the rest of the Twitter world.

"I guess I gotta thank my mom for the long fingers," said Beckham, after what can only be described as a breakout performance. If he was on the radar of NFL fans heading into Sunday, then a 146-yard two-touchdown night puts him on the league’s map of superstars. He just became an overnight sensation.

But greatest is a pretty hefty label. Watching on Long Island, physics professor Chang Kee Jung didn’t think of it that way until Monday morning, when he started analyzing the catch in his office at Stony Brook University, where he teaches a sports physics class.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Jung, noting that a football spirals through the air rotating at a speed somewhere between 400 and 500 rpm. 

“He was catching the ball in the body of the football.”

It’s that fact which Jung believes separates this catch from others, like David Tyree in the Super Bowl. Where most one-handed grabs are made by cupping the nose of the football, in this case, as Beckham reached back for the ball with his right hand, he could only get three fingers on the ball. Improbably, that was enough to stop the momentum of a ball travelling as fast as 50 mph.

“Everything has to be just right,” said Jung.

Beckham says Eli Manning’s throw was a perfect spiral in exactly the right spot. Of course, had he not been interfered with, it’s likely a catch in his chest and a routine 43-yard touchdown.

“He practices that one-handed snag,” said Manning, who pointed out the one flaw in the whole “Greatest Catch” theory.

The Giants didn’t win the game.

“I hope it’s not the greatest catch of all time,” said Beckham, echoing his quarterback’s frustration with losing to the Cowboys. “I hope I can make more.”

The feeling seems to be mutual.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hero, Nero, Zero From Giants' Loss to Cowboys]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:38:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/4594822461.jpg

Hero: Odell Beckham Jr.

The Giants’ 2014 season is not going to end in Arizona on the first Sunday in February. With Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, New York’s sixth straight loss, the 3-8 Giants can at best finish 8-8, which might have been good enough to win the division -- ya know, if the Giants played in the NFC South.

Are the Giants officially eliminated from postseason contention? No. But no fan in his or her right mind is clinging to the hopes of making the playoffs. And given the chorus of cheers that went up at MetLife Stadium Sunday night when the referees ruled the Giants had come up short on fourth down to essentially end the game, most Giants fans had already thrown in the towel and sold their tickets to Cowboys fans.

But at least the Giants have something to look forward to, and that’s watching Odell Beckham Jr. play for their team, hopefully for a long time.

By now you’ve likely seen the catch that Beckham made, which ranks roughly No. 1 in the history of the world. We saw the flags come in, and we saw Beckham hit the ground, but the camera angle was so far away that we couldn’t see what happened to the ball. Only when he stood up did I turn to my nephew and ask, “Did he just catch that?”

Replays and additional camera angles confirmed the sublime. It was unreal.

That’s why we watch sports, to see and experience a moment of transcendent play like that. Here’s to many more from Beckham in the coming years.

Nero: NFL rules

Every major sport has its shortcomings involving the rulebook. Baseball has the “neighborhood rule,” which allows middle infielders to be within shouting distance of second base on force plays and is designed to protect them from baser runners barreling down the baseline; basketball often allows its players to take more than two steps after picking up their dribble; soccer has no effective way to protect against flopping; and hockey still allows people to commit felonies that would get an average person sent to prison.

Football? It has numerous rules that defy common sense. For example, the rule that doesn’t allow referees to infer the obvious, as displayed last night when Giants running back Andre Williams obviously fumbled the ball near the goal line before he hit the ground. Because the play was not ruled a fumble on the field, referees needed incontrovertible evidence that Williams had fumbled in order to turn over the call.

Williams was tackled in a scrum and it wasn’t immediately clear that he had coughed it up before he was down, but anyone with a modicum of common sense could deduce that he had in fact fumbled. But the referees didn’t feel they were 100 percent certain, so they hid behind the safe, incorrect call. On the next play, Williams scored a touchdown and the Giants were ahead 21-10.

So yeah, the Giants lost by three points, but it should have been by more.

Zero: Giants’ pass rush on final Cowboys drive.

If you can’t get to a quarterback with the front four (and the Giants couldn’t, especially on the last drive), then it makes sense to send extra rushers. Instead Perry Fewell’s defense sat back and didn’t blitz on the deciding pass play, even though Tony Romo has broken bones in his back and is limited in his mobility.

Romo had seven-and-a-half seconds to throw on one play on the last drive, which should have been the clue that the Giants’ pass rush wasn’t getting it done. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Much Has Changed Since Giants Last Faced Cowboys]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:54:38 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/458696810.jpg

A lot has changed since the Giants and Cowboys squared off in Week Seven, when Dallas won 31-21. We went to the polls and exercised our right to vote (or not), we watched as Philip Rivers went from an MVP candidate back to being a candidate for quarterback of the San Diego Chargers, and we saw far too many people dressed as Ray Rice for Halloween.

What else has changed between then and now? Let’s take a look:

Then: The Giants had a one-game losing streak.
Now: The Giants have a five-game losing streak.

Then: Cowboys backup running back Joseph Randle had just been arrested for shoplifting boxer briefs and cologne.
Now: Randle ostensibly smells nice and has proper support.

Then: The Cowboys were 5-1 after winning five games in a row and everyone in Dallas was making plans to attend the Super Bowl in February.
Now: The Cowboys are 7-3 after losing to Washington and Arizona, beating Jacksonville in London, and somehow making it through their bye week without anyone getting arrested.

Then: Half of the fans at AT&T were blinded in the second half because Cowboys owner Jerry Jones decided to leave the blinds up at his billion dollar storage shed as the sun set in the west.
Now: Those fans are probably still blind.

Then: DeMarco Murray was on pace to break the single-season record for most rushing yards and attempts.
Now: Murray is slacking and is only on pace for 1,973 yards rushing and 390 attempts, shy of the records set by Eric Dickerson (2,105) and the worn-out carcass of Larry Johnson (416).

Then: Murray became the first running back to surpass 100 yards rushing in the first seven games of a season, rolling over the Giants with 128 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries.
Now: Murray will probably roll over the Giants again, using this game alone to pass both Dickerson and Johnson for those all-time records.

Then: The Giants looked like a playoff team and no one was talking about firing Tom Coughlin.
Now: Nothing to see here, move along.

Then: The nation was in the midst of an Ebola panic, and in advance of the trip to Dallas
Giants doctors prepped the team about how to protect themselves against the virus.
Now: The nation has moved on and is panicking about immigration.

Then: Victor Cruz had just been lost for the season with a knee injury.
Now: Not a single one of his teammates has honored him by dancing the salsa after scoring a touchdown.

Then: Emerging star Larry Donnell was working with fans to come up with a proper nickname.
Now: Fans just hope he can catch a single meaningful pass again.

Then: Odell Beckham Jr. scored two touchdowns against the Cowboys.
Now: He’ll have to have similar success if the Giants are to have any shot in this game.

Then: The Giants’ defense couldn’t stop the Cowboys’ offense in the second half.
Now: The Giants' defense probably won't be able to stop the Cowboys' offense at all.

Then: Eli Manning was making fans forget about his propensity for throwing killer interceptions.
Now: The old Eli is back, baby!

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>