New York Giants: Can Big Blue Avoid the Second Half Collapse in 2012?

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst INovember 7, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 14: Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants watches his team warm up before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The New York Giants seem to be at a little bit of a crossroads right now.

They currently sit at 6-3 and hold a 2.5-game lead in the NFC East over the struggling Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.

If the Giants had won their game on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it would have put them at 7-2 instead given then a commanding lead in their division.

The Giants looked like one of the elite teams in the NFC through their first eight games.

They were well on their way to winning the division and defending their title in the postseason.

However, the Giants hardly looked like the team that started out 6-2 on Sunday against Pittsburgh.

Eli Manning had by far his worst game of the season and the Giants defense couldn't stop the run at any point in the game.

As a Giants fan, you have to hope the bad game was an effect of Hurricane Sandy and that they rebound against the Cincinnati Bengals in a few days.

But what if it's not a one-week slide?

What if this is the second-half swoon that the Giants have experienced before under head coach Tom Coughlin in the past?

If you look at every year Coughlin has been the Giants coach, the second-half slide happens.

In 2004, the Giants started out 5-2 and finished 6-10, going 1-8; The one win was a Week 17 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

In 2006, the Giants started out 6-2 and finished 8-8, going 2-6 down the stretch. They barely got into the playoffs, nearly getting Coughlin fired in the process.

In 2008, the Giants started out 11-1 and were primed for another repeat as champions, but finished 1-3, losing to the Eagles in the playoffs.

In 2009, the Giants started out 5-0 and finished 8-8, finishing the season 3-8 and ending their four-year postseason run.

And in 2011, the Giants started out 6-2 and finished 9-7, however they won the final two games to win their division and eventually the Super Bowl.

Here we are in 2012, with the Giants a week away from their bye and looking at a difficult second half to their schedule.

After the bye, they have the Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles.

Four of those teams were playoff teams from a year ago and the other two are NFC East rivals.

The bye week could help the Giants. They will have played 10 games straight before getting a week off to rest.

But that scenario is not guaranteed, especially given how the Giants have finished in recent years with Coughlin.

The bottom line is that the Giants need to stay healthy and execute properly to avoid a second-half collapse.

The health issue is not something the Giants can control, but properly executing on the field is something the team and Coughlin can control.

Because the 2012 Giants are the defending Super Bowl Champions and have been in this kind of spot before, I think they will finish strong and will be playing in January.