Anyone who has followed the New York Giants during the Tom Coughlin era knows that there is seldom smooth sailing throughout the course of a season. Virtually every year, even the first season in 2004 when they didn't make the playoffs, their season seems to play out like the tortoise and the hair and it tends to drive the Big Blue faithful crazy. Yet with that there is also the knowledge that when this team is seemingly written off with their backs up against the wall and expectations lowered, usually they'll step it up and turn it around.
I don't want to give the Giants a pass and say from the outset there were questions about not having a big target in the red zone and how the defense would respond under a new coordinator. But once the season starts, your expectations change along with it. That being said I still believe this team can get into the playoffs in a weak NFC, where remember the Giants only three years ago sneaked in with eight wins.
Looking at the parallels of this season and 2004, those Giants were also 5-4 heading into a home contest which they lost to the Atlanta Falcons 14-10 and continued their spiral from a 5-2 start to a 6-10 finish. Looking at this season the Giants have already lost as many regular season games as they did last season. Their only real quality win was at Dallas in Week Two and the most worrisome losses to me were dropping two games at home to Arizona and San Diego, two warm weather West Coast clubs that have been up and down themselves this season.
If I had to make a case for the Giants reaching the playoffs this year it would play out like this:
The Giants after the bye week are rested and prepared to play Atlanta, which doesn't really have any quality wins to speak of itself. And if you're looking at one of those last Wild Card spots, well there's one of your tie-breakers as well.
While a quick turnaround an flight out to Denver is no day at the beach, the Broncos themselves have lost a bit of steam the last couple of weeks and will be coming off a hard fought contest with the Chargers. A win here would be gravy and a real confidence booster, but I'm not counting on it.
Following that the Giants have some extra time to prepare for Dallas at home. Speaking of which depending on what one thinks is attainable for this team do Giants fans actually root for Dallas to beat Green Bay? Having beaten Dallas once and spanking them at home last year, one has to wonder if they'll respond just like the Cowboys did against them down in Dallas last season while fighting for their playoff lives.
The Giants will take on the Philadelphia Eagles at home the following week and one can probably assume another loss there.
Then its off to Washington to play the abysmal Redskins whom the Giants beat in the season opener.
And if the last two contests look strikingly familiar to you, they should. The Giants play a reeling Carolina Panthers team at home, who for all intensive purposes could be long out of it by then. Plus are they really going to lose the final game at Giants Stadium?
Finally the Giants will finish out at Minnesota to play the Vikings. This time it could very well play out like last year's game only with the roles reversed. The Giants fighting desperately for a playoff spot, while the Vikings will likely have a first round bye sewn up and could be resting starters for that game as well.
All in all unless the Giants have really reached the point of no return, there's no reason this team can't theoretically go 5-2 the rest of the way, finish up at 10-6 and snag a Wild Card spot in the NFC.
And if all else fails, maybe Kate Hudson can coach the defense.