New York Giants: Progress Report Headed into Week 16

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 16:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants walks off the field after their 34-0 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Oh, Giants. Why must you do this every year? I mean, it's hard for anyone to hate on you for it because of those two Super Bowls in a five-year span and all, but why can't you just makes things easier on yourself once in a while?

You have the best offense in the NFC East, the best defense in the NFC East and the top turnover ratio in the NFC East. You're also the healthiest team in the division, yet you're sitting in third place (tiebreakers considered) with two games remaining. 

If the season ended today, New York. you'd be out of the playoffs. So will you turn it around in the eleventh hour yet again? 

Here's a state of the union-style breakdown of where the G-men stand right now.

What They Should Be Thinking

Glass Half-Empty

The defense can't get consistent pressure, the offense lacks balance without Ahmad Bradshaw and Eli Manning continues to struggle. As a result, we haven't won back-to-back games since October. 

One year after finishing with the third-most sacks in football, we're smack dab in the middle of the pack in that category this year, making it extremely hard to mask a secondary that was never good in the first place.

We haven't had a multi-sack game since early November and we barely touched Matt Ryan in Atlanta Sunday. Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are clearly declining at a rapid rate.

Meanwhile, Bradshaw can't stay healthy yet again. He's been bugged by foot issues all season and is now missing time due to a knee injury. When he's been on the field this year, he's been good. But we can't trust him to stay out there as an every-down back. Rookie David Wilson struggled in Bradshaw's stead against the Falcons, especially as a blocker.

This was supposed to be a career year for Manning, but his numbers are down straight across the board. The Hakeem Nicks injury doesn't help, but star quarterbacks find ways around that. Manning hasn't.

The odds are not in our favor, regardless of what's happened when we've been in this spot in the past.

Glass Half-Full

At the end of the day, we still have the league's second-best turnover ratio and are ranked near the top of the league on both sides of the ball. That was a hiccup in Atlanta, but we've gotten through worse situations. 

That might also have been a wake-up call for us. Maybe it was the slap in the face we needed in order to make a run. Maybe it was this year's version of the four-game November/December losing streak that nearly cost us our 2011 season. 

The defense does lack bite right now but we're getting Prince Amukamara and Kenny Phillips back and Umenyiora and Tuck seem to rise to the occasion late. 

Most importantly, we've been here and done this. Washington and Dallas haven't. Our final two opponents—Baltimore and Philadelphia—are struggling more than we are right now and there's little reason we can't pull it all together and go 2-0 to finish with a better record than we had last season.

And remember, we control our own destiny, so if that happens we're back in the playoffs and we'll have a chance to do what we do best, which is beat good teams on the road in January. 

What I'm Thinking

Stock Rising (offense): Domenik Hixon

He was the Giants' leading receiver against Atlanta with five catches on six targets and 80 yards. From a yardage standpoint, it was the third-best game of Hixon's career.

Stock Rising (defense): Chris Canty

He played one of his best games of the year in Atlanta, making four defensive stops and picking up the defense's only sack in a losing effort. Pro Football Focus rated him as the best defensive player on the team in Week 15.

Stock Dropping (offense): David Wilson

Could go with Manning here too, but Wilson was extremely disappointing Sunday. In his first career start against a mediocre run defense, he had just 55 yards rushing. Then again, he only ran the ball 12 times, but he still loses a ton of points for getting steamrolled by a blitzing Sean Weatherspoon on a Manning pick that shaped the game.

Stock Dropping (defense): Antrel Rolle

The slumping Rolle had four missed tackles alone against the Falcons. He also continues to struggle in pass coverage. The way I see it, if Phillips, Stevie Brown and Will Hill are all healthy, Rolle shouldn't even be on the field. 


I don't think many people believe they'll lose out, and I'd imagine most believe they'll win out. The Baltimore game will likely decide their fate and I just can't see Tom Coughlin's team following up that ugly Atlanta loss with another poor performance. 

They'll sneak into the playoffs again, but I don't feel as though this is a Super Bowl team.

View last week's report here


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