4 Ways New York Giants Can Earn a Playoff Berth
Never before had four words resonated so much with this New York Giants football team.
On the heels of such an uplifting and meaningful victory, the speculation and "what if" games surrounding what the New York football Giants need to do to earn a playoff berth can officially begin.
This 2012 NFL playoff picture is constantly shifting week to week—more so than Mitt Romney's credibility did in his efforts to become President of the United States.
The world was watching on Sunday night to see how the defending Super Bowl champions would respond coming out of the bye week.
The Giants didn't disappoint.
They dominated the Packers in all facets of the game—special teams, offense and defense. Their full arsenal and scary potential was on display for the league to take notice.
Big Blue's success or failure over the remaining five games will come down to three things: execution, execution, execution.
Talent-wise, the Giants are head-and-shoulders with every other "elite" team in the league.
If every man on the 53-man roster does their job and finishes plays like they did against Green Bay, there's no reason why Big Blue can't repeat as Super Bowl champs.
If the playoffs started today, the Giants would play host to these hobbled Packers, who left New York with their tails between their legs.
The G-Men's Super Bowl-defending target on their back is only getting bigger every week, but there are four ways for this Giants team to reach the playoffs.
The Packers had been one of the better teams in the league at containing opposing running attacks—until Sunday night.
The Giants' three-headed assault of Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown and David Wilson dispelled Green Bay's reputation by racking up 147 yards against the Packers front.
Unfortunately, it came at the high price of losing Brown for the rest of the season due to a broken fibula.
Expect the Giants to bring in and try out some veteran running backs this week at practice, but Bradshaw and Wilson will be the guys to shoulder the load for the remainder of the season.
When asked about the injury, coach Tom Coughlin simply replied, "Yeah, he broke his fibula. It takes a lot off of the win, to be honest with you."
There's no question that losing Brown makes things a little tougher now for the G-Men, but it was the reemergence of their running game Sunday night that has fans believing this team has what it takes.
In the same number of total drives that the Packers had, 11, the Giants had no fumbles, 31 more yards rushing and controlled the time of possession 31:13 to 28:47.
New York's ability to run the ball, control the game and win the turnover battle is the most encouraging sign that Big Blue is ready for the playoffs and beyond.
Confidence is a beautiful thing, and Rueben Randle finally got rewarded with his first touchdown catch of his career.
Right before the two-minute mark of the first quarter, Eli Manning threw a dart to Randle for the score.
Nicks made great strides in the win over Green Bay with five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, and he looks as close to 100 percent as he has all year.
Cruz found the beat to the salsa again, getting in on the party with a touchdown reception of his own.
From here on out, Manning will have to fit the ball into smaller and smaller windows, so it will be imperative for Randle to continue his upward trend—allowing Cruz and Nicks to impose their game-breaking threats.
A lot of success from the Giants receiving corps hinges on the attention and impact Randle garners.
Rejuvenated Right Arm
The Giants hopes ultimately go as far as the right arm of No. 10 takes them, but sometimes, it's easy to forget that professional athletes are human and that fatigue sometimes sets in.
It took a lot for Manning to put his pride aside and admit it, but his arm was a little tired the past few weeks:
I never thought my arm was tired, never felt like it. After a week off, you come back to practice; it felt good, alive, balls coming out with a little pop on it.
After 10 weeks, it definitely needed a little rest.
The often tight-lipped Coughlin also came out and stated the obvious by saying he thought the rest was needed for his superstar quarterback:
There was no doubt he was going to come back and play well. I think the rest really helped him (...) Eli said he felt as if he was coming back for the start of the season. I was very confident he would come back and be Eli.
Manning is a huge reason why the Giants will earn a playoff berth, and his 200th career touchdown pass confirms that.
For a Giants playoff berth, repeat after me—rely on Eli.
You would have to be living under a rock to not know that the Giants defense goes as the defensive front goes.
The line made a big statement Sunday night against Aaron Rodgers, sacking him five times.
It was one of those games that reminded you of the years when it's a flurry of guys who are getting to the quarterback.
The first of five sacks was recorded by Chris Canty, and it came when the game was tied at 7-7 early and Green Bay was threatening.
There was also a Mathias Kiwanuka sighting, as Kiwi had two sacks on the night.
It was the kind of pass rush that the team has been hoping for, and it arrived in a big way.
The giants pass rush has always been a catalyst for Big Blue's stingy defense, and it will be a determining factor for earning a playoff spot.
If they heed the wish of Adam Merchant and "play like world champions," the rest will take care of itself.