The battle that is the NFC East has a new leader. With the New York Giants 3rd straight victory and the Eagles loss last night, the Giants have taken over sole possession of first place. One thing I have always said about the NFC East is that it is never the best division but it is often the most competitive. Down the stretch, it may be the Washington Football Team acting as the main competitor for a division title. Both the Eagles and the Cowboys look terrible and neither are showing any signs of improvement.
The Giants are finding themselves in unfamiliar territory at the top of the division. They have not sniffed a playoff spot since 2016. What would a playoff appearance for the still rebuilding Giants mean?
Valuable Playoff Experience
On the offensive side of the ball, only one key weapon has experienced the playoffs. Sterling Shepard was apart of the last Giants playoff team, but no one else was. Making the playoffs this year would give them some much needed experience. Daniel Jones would get a sniff of real competitive football which would be big for his development.
The same goes for the defensive side of the ball. The defense has been one of the biggest surprises this season for the G-Men. James Bradberry, Jabrill Peppers, and Logan Ryan are looking like elite defensive backs. Now they add Xavier McKinney into the bunch and that is a secondary to be scared of. Blake Martinez is one of the most underrated linebackers in the NFL as he currently sits near the top of the leaderboard in tackles. The interior defensive line has been tremendous. Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Leonard Williams have been causing trouble for opposing running backs and quarterbacks all season. Imagine what the defensive line could look like with a legitimate edge rusher.
A Chance at a Super Bowl
Now do not get me wrong; I do not thing the Giants can win the Super Bowl. However, what I am saying is in order to win, you have to make the playoffs first. And as of now, the Giants have a seat at the table. Everything would have to go right for them and everything would have to go wrong for every other team, but stranger things have happened.
Reasons to be concerned
Just because the Giants are in first place now, does not mean they will be at the end of the season. The Giants have a rough schedule ahead as they go Seattle, Arizona, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Dallas to finish the season. Realistically, they need to win 2 of these games including week 17 against Dallas. That will be tough as Daniel Jones may be sidelined for at least one game with a hamstring injury. That means Colt McCoy is the starting quarterback. The Giants offense has been struggling this season and would struggle even more with McCoy under center.
Of course, the Giants would be sacrificing a much better draft selection if they were to make the playoffs. However, a playoff appearance but sacrificing spots for a draft pick will be more beneficial for the team than losing out and getting as high as a pick as possible. Anything can happen when you make the playoffs. It just takes one good game to move on and the Giants are capable for showing up. Their defense has been fantastic recently, and the two most recent Super Bowls have been won on the backs of their defense. The NFC East has certainly been competitive and the G-Men are sitting high and well on top.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)