New York Giants: Projecting the Potential Roadblocks to the NFC East Title
The reigning and defending Super Bowl Champions are 4-2 and sit alone in first place in the NFC East right now following their 26-3 demolishing over the San Francisco 49ers.
Now, they will head into their Week 7 meeting with an NFC East rival, the Washington Redskins, a team that the Giants had trouble with in 2011.
Although right now the Giants are in a good spot for success to get back to the playoffs and potentially repeat as the NFC East Champions, they still face some road-blocks before getting back to playing in January.
What road-blocks do the champions face in 2012?
The NFC East Schedule
Right now, the Giants are currently 0-2 in their own division.
They lost in Week 1 to the Dallas Cowboys 24-17.
They lost in Week 4 to the Philadelphia Eagles 19-17.
Yet, they're 4-0 against the rest of their opponents and still sit on atop the division.
They have one more match-up with the Cowboys in two weeks, one more game with the Eagles in Week 17 and two games with the Redskins, one of which will be on Sunday.
If the Giants want to repeat as the NFC East Champions, they can't go 0-6 against their own division and 10-0 against everyone else.
They will need to beat their own division rivals.
Maintaining the Running Game
Last year, the Giants were last in the NFL in rushing, which is so uncharacteristic of them because they've usually been a team that relied on the running game.
Ahmad Bradshaw has 92 carries for 449 yards and three touchdowns.
Andre Brown has 38 carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns.
David Wilson has 15 carries for 87 yards and one touchdown.
Combined, they already have 734 yards and seven touchdowns, so the three of them are already on pace to have more rushing yards than last year's team.
Part of that has to do with the departure of Brandon Jacobs and both Brown and Wilson stepping up for the Giants, plus Bradshaw's latest resurgence on the field.
If the Giants can keep up the running attack, it makes the passing attack for Eli Manning that more dangerous.
Especially because Eli uses the play-action pass a lot in the offense, and if teams aren't worried about the running attack, defenses can play the pass a lot easier.
So keeping up the running game will only make the Giants offense that more dangerous going forward in the season.
Before the season, I saw two key injuries that hurt the Giants depth; Shaun Rogers and Terrell Thomas.
Both players were lost for the season and placed on the season-ending IR.
Rogers' injury was bad because Chris Canty began the season on the partial-IR list and will just be getting off the list and might be able to come back to play against the Redskins on Sunday.
Thomas' injury caused the other players in the secondary to have to step up, and for the most part, they have.
Prince Amukamara so far has been able to stay on the field after missing most of the pre-season with an injury.
Kenny Phillips is still recovering from a knee injury and has been listed as week-to-week after he sprained it against the Philadelphia Eagles back in Week 4.
David Diehl hurt his knee back in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but that injury might have been a blessing in disguise, as the offensive line has been so much better since he went down with that injury.
Hakeem Nicks was also out for three weeks with a swollen knee, but was able to come back against the 49ers this past Sunday.
Aside from that, the Giants haven't had that devastating injury to the team, and they need to keep it that way.
In today's NFL, it's almost impossible to not have injuries, and for the Giants, they've had their share of them in the past.
But as long as they keep the injuries to a minimum and to the ones where players can recover from, they should be just fine.
The History of the Second Half Collapse
It seems like every year, the Giants get off to a great start, and then slide in the second half.
Take 2011 for example.
The Giants started out 6-2 and were on top of the NFL, especially after they went to Gillette Stadium and knocked off the New England Patriots on the road.
The the Giants lost four straight, fell to 6-6 and their season and playoff hopes were in serious jeopardy.
The Giants were able to finish the month of December strong, going 3-1 in their final four games and finished 9-7 to win the division; two of those wins were against the Dallas Cowboys.
Even so, the second half collapse nearly happened again for the Giants before they woke up and got back on track.
After the Bye Week in Week 11 is where I see the second half of the schedule, and it's not the easiest schedule for the Giants.
Four of the six remaining games in their schedule are all against teams that were in the playoffs in 2011, while the other two are against teams from the NFC East.
If the Giants want to make it back to the playoffs, they have to finish strong and avoid the collapse.
Week 17 vs the Philadelphia Eagles
Last year in Week 17, the Giants were playing for the NFC East title and a chance to make the playoffs against the Cowboys at home.
This season, their Week 17 game is at MetLife Stadium, but against the Philadelphia Eagles.
I would not be surprised if this game determined the outcome of the NFC East and who goes to the playoffs.
The last time the Giants beat the Eagles at home was back in September of 2007. Since then, the Giants are 0-5 against the Eagles in their own building.
Ultimately, this could be the biggest roadblock for the Giants, especially if the Eagles are still contending for a playoff spot.
But even if they aren't, the Eagles will still look to play spoilers and ruin the end of the Giants 2012 season.
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