Though they have played better recently, it is going to take some serious work for the Giants to again be a serious threat in the NFC East.
Their task didn’t get any easier on Sunday, either.
All three of Big Blue’s NFC East rivals won their games this weekend, moving a half-game further ahead of the 2-6 Giants in the standings. The Cowboys (5-4) came back to defeat Minnesota. The Eagles (4-5) routed Oakland. The Redskins (3-5) made a big goal-line stand to force overtime, then edged San Diego.
The results leave the Giants 2.5 games behind Dallas, 1.5 games behind Philadelphia and one game behind Washington.
Still, there’s reason to be optimistic about the Giants, even with all of their division rivals taking care of business in Week Nine. Here are five reasons why Sunday’s results may augur well for the Giants’ chances to get back into the NFC East race:
1. The Giants next play the Raiders, whom the Eagles took apart on Sunday. Regarded as one of the NFL’s weakest teams entering the season, the Raiders looked the part on Sunday. Now, the Raiders have to travel cross-country to play the Giants, who come off an extra week of rest.
2. The Giants’ season series with the Eagles is over. The Eagles’ offense was never as hapless as it appeared in recent losses to the Giants and Cowboys. The Eagles have a lot of skill-position talent, which was very obvious Sunday, when quarterback Nick Foles tied the NFL single-game record with seven TD passes. The Giants are better for having their two games with Philadelphia in the books, and they did well to earn a season series split after losing the first meeting between the teams at MetLife Stadium.
3. The Cowboys hardly looked like a powerful division leader on Sunday. The Vikings, who have looked awful in the last month, were very close to upsetting Dallas. The Cowboys continue to lack the game-to-game consistency of a club fixing to take control of the NFC East. Their play Sunday suggests they will leave the door open for someone to give them a challenge for the division. Now, let’s see if anyone can knock Dallas from its perch.
4. The Redskins’ defense remains suspect. Give Washington credit: With the game on the line in the final moments of regulation on Sunday, its defense stopped San Diego on three plays from the one-yard-line, which forced overtime. That said, the Chargers put together two long scoring drives in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter. Overall, San Diego gained 158 yards on 22 plays on its last two drives.
5. The Redskins now have to try to stop Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on Thursday night. Peterson gave the Cowboys fits on Sunday, rushing for 140 yards and a touchdown. Overall, the Vikings’ performance at Dallas was one of their best of the season. They continue to play hard. Washington needs to play its best game if it wants to avoid falling to 3-6.