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With Loss, Giants Close to Fringe of NFC East Race

At 0-6, New York isn't completely out of the playoff picture, but they're getting dangerously close

By By Mike Wilkening
|  Friday, Oct 11, 2013  |  Updated 5:40 AM EDT
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    The 2013 Giants are party guests hanging around near the door. It is probably time for them to leave, but there’s another person or two to wish goodbye before heading out into the cold.

    Now 0-6, the Giants are 2.5 games out of first place in the NFC East with 10 games left to play. For now, we can talk about them in the present tense. We can weigh the Giants’ chances, however slim, of turning around their season.

    Really, though, we are almost at the point where such exercises are pointless. 

    There is less and less to say about the 2013 Giants. Their franchise quarterback is making far too many mistakes. Their defense’s supposed greatest strength — a potent pass rush — is in hiding, assuming it hasn’t gone and left for good. The longer the Giants' slide continues, the more attention will be paid to how they proceed in the offseason, for there is work that needs to be done on both sides of the ball.

    In the short term, the Giants’ playoff hopes may well have left for good on Thursday night. With the Giants trailing 27-21 late in the fourth quarter, Eli Manning had tight end Brandon Myers open for a nice gain down the seam, and the Giants were about to advance the ball inside Chicago’s 15-yard-line.

    But Manning’s pass was a touch too high, and the ball bounced off Myers’ hands and into the arms of Bears cornerback Tim Jennings. Chicago would go onto run out the clock and secure the six-point win.

    There will be a lot of focus on Manning after another error-ridden performance. He threw three more interceptions on Thursday night, one of which was returned for a touchdown. The Giants need more out of their franchise quarterback, who’s committed 17 turnovers in six games and has already matched his 2012 interception total, and his play is a contributing factor in their awful start.

    But the 32-year-old Manning is not the only reason New York has struggled, and he'll be a key long-term asset until his contract runs out in 2015. The bigger worries are at other positions. The Giants’ defense especially needs help. It just hasn’t shown the playmaking ability it had in past seasons, forcing just seven takeaways and recording just five sacks in six games.

    The Giants get a few extra days of rest before hosting the Vikings on Oct. 21. By the end of this weekend, we’ll have a better idea of how much work needs to be done to get back into the NFC East race. The division is so hapless that the Giants would remain just 2.5 games out of first if the Eagles fall at Tampa Bay and the Cowboys lose to Washington this weekend. 

    Nevertheless, the Giants are closer than ever to falling out of the division discussion. Frankly, it’s a little awkward that they are still lingering. It seems like we should be talking about 2014, not 2013, with these Giants. Now, it’s a matter of whether anybody in the NFC East is capable of escorting them from the premises. 

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