NFL New York Giants

Despite Being 6-2 and on Top of the NFC East, New York Giants are Flawed

Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

The New York Giants are 6-2 right now, on top of the NFC East by 2.5 games, and the only team in the division with a winning record. After eight games, the Giants have to feel confident about their standing within the conference; they rank just behind the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears in winning percentage.

I like to think I can be objective when I’m writing about my favorite team. I make no attempts to hide the fact that I am a fan on my social media outlets, but on this platform I feel a certain responsibility to be objective and call things like I see them. The fact of the matter is, that while we’ve seen the full potential of the Giants in their dominating 26-3 win over the San Francisco 49ers, they are a flawed group.

The truth is the Giants have been in this position before at the halfway point. It’s become almost a guarantee the Giants will be successful in the first half of the season. Eli Manning is 27-5 in October, the highest winning percentage for any quarterback in any month all-time. The Giants have also never had less than five wins at this point under Tom Coughlin. There is a reason for this.

The Giants consistently have the softer half of their schedule in the first half and even tend to play better football during that time. This year alone they’ve only played one team with a winning record in eight contests. Their win over the 49ers was no doubt impressive, but that defensive performance has proven to be a mirage. It was a miniscule glimpse at the potential this Giants team has, but fail to live up to each and every week.

The weak schedule is the main reason the Giants have the fourth highest margin of victory, and it’s also why they’ve been able to hold teams to such a low number of points. They’ve played some turnover prone offenses and taken advantage of their mistakes while also standing strong when teams get into the red zone.

Truthfully, this defense is not very good right now. They re 24th in total yards, 26th in passing yards and 19th in rushing yards per game allowed. Thankfully the turnovers and the stinginess in the red zone has allowed them to only allow 20.8 points per game, good for eighth in the league. They also lead the league with 24 turnovers forced and are tied for first at +13 turnover margin.

Not giving up many points and creating that many more turnovers than your opponents is a terrific formula to win, but it’s difficult for me to believe this trend will continue down the stretch. The inconsistency cannot be ignored.

They’ve given up 27 points to a hapless Cleveland Browns team, 34 points against an awful Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, and blew a 23-point lead to the Dallas Cowboys while allowing Tony Romo to throw for 437 yards. They came within a pinky falling out of bounds from blowing that game.

At the same time, they’ve completely dominated the Carolina Panthers and held the 49ers to just three points after having scored 79 in their two games prior. It’s a difficult defense to read, but the overall feeling, from me anyway, is they have a ton of work to do.

I haven’t even started with the offense.

Don’t get me wrong—the Giants have an explosive offense. They are fourth in yards gained and third in points scored. That said, their struggles in the red zone and along the offensive line cannot be ignored.

Lawrence Tynes has attempted a league high 26 field goals, six more than second most. Good defenses have been able to shut down the Giants’ running game enough to where they know what’s coming when the Giants get close. Manning can only do so much.

Settling for field goals after turnovers nearly cost the Giants the Cowboys game Sunday. They forced six turnovers, yet scored only 23 points off of them, seven of which came from a pick-six. So in five other turnovers, they managed only three field goals and one touchdown.

That’s pathetic to be perfectly honest.

The offensive line has been fantastic protecting Manning for the most part, allowing a league low seven sacks in eight games. However the run blocking has been sporadic. Against the Browns and 49ers they totaled a whopping 392 yards on 71 carries (5.5 ypc), but against the Washington Redskins and Cowboys, they managed just 167 yards on 47 carries (3.55 ypc).

Running the ball becomes imperative as the temperature drops, so let’s hope the Giants are more the former than the latter.

Some are calling this Giants team the best they’ve seen under Coughlin. I’d be careful in saying that. They’ve been the same inconsistent group they always are in the regular season, but have taken advantage of a weak schedule to this point. They are not more impressive than the 2008 team with Plaxico Burress, I do know that much.

Hopefully this team can show some heart, pride and determination not to fall into the typical second half trap they do seemingly every year.

The Giants have to feel good about where they currently stand, and there is a lot to like about them, but I’m reserving judgment until I see more consistency.

Jeff is an NFL Featured Columnist for Like Jeff’s Facebook Page here. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Shull