5 Potential New York Giants Playoff Opponents and How They Match Up
They've already got off on the wrong foot in the second half with two disheartening losses, and Tom Coughlin is known for having second-half collapses.
That said, the Bears are going to be without Jay Cutler for the remainder of the regular season, and the Lions are 2-3 in their last five, so it is conceivable more now than ever that two teams could make the playoffs from the NFC East.
I do not want to get in to the habit of assuming the Giants would win their playoff game, so the two teams most likely to obtain the bye week in the first round—the 49ers and Packers—are not potential opponents.
That said, let's take a look at how the Giants stack up to all the other teams in the NFC playoff hunt.
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Just to throw it out there, on paper, the Giants don't stack up well against anybody. Most of their advantages against teams are going to be immeasurable factors.
When it comes to the Cowboys, the Giants always play well, whether it is at home or on the road. In fact, the Giants are 2-0 in Jerry World, so they would not be afraid of taking on the Cowboys if they come out on top of the NFC East.
For those wanting to see the matchups, here they are.
- Dallas No. 10 defense vs New York No. 13 offense
- Dallas No. 6 offense vs. New York No. 21 defense
- Dallas No. 13 pass defense vs. New York No. 5 pass offense
- Dallas No. 6 pass offense vs. New York No. 18 pass defense
- Dallas No. 11 rush defense vs. New York No. 31 rush offense
- Dallas No. 10 rush offense vs New York No. 21 rush defense
- Dallas +6 Turnover differential vs. New York +7 turnover differential
Another key stat to think about is both teams have allowed 19 sacks on the year, and the Giants lead the NFL with 31 sacks, while Dallas is close behind with 26 sacks.
Looking at the stats on paper favors the Cowboys. The Giants not being able to run the ball kills them, but they've also been without Ahmad Bradshaw for three games. A fresh Bradshaw down the stretch could make a huge difference.
If the game is close in the fourth quarter, I have to favor the Giants. While the Cowboys have been better of late, it is hard to trust Tony Romo in the clutch. At the same time, Eli has been money in the fourth, leading the Giants on five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter this season alone.
If Dallas can get out to a big lead and sustain it with their ground game, I see them winning a potential matchup easily. They are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now; no reason to believe the Giants have the advantage at this point.
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I'm not going to delve into any stats or numbers for this matchup; this game will be won in the trenches.
The Giants offensive line was dominated on the line of scrimmage by the Eagles—that doesn't bode well for them against the Bears, whose defensive line is better.
The Bears defense is playing opportunistic football, Devin Hester is killing teams, and quite honestly, the offense could still move the ball without Jay Cutler and hold on to a wild card spot.
Cutler is expected to miss six to eight weeks after thumb surgery, but I find it hard to believe he would sit out a playoff game.
If he does, however, Hanie is the backup, and right now, you cannot say one way or the other if that will help or hurt the Bears. Conventional wisdom would say Hanie will struggle, but we've seen crazier things happen.
If the Giants are able to slow down Matt Forte—which they have actually been stopping the run the previous two weeks—and keep it a low-scoring game, then they have a chance for Eli to work his fourth quarter magic.
That is a big if.
You cannot count the Giants out against the Bears with their ferocious pass rush, but Mike Martz has been doing an incredible job protecting Cutler of late.
At this point, I'm not about to question the toughness of Jay Cutler. I get the feeling he would play regardless of his health.
Advantage: Bears (With Cutler)
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Despite the general negative nature of the article so far, I actually like the Giants if they meet the Lions in the playoffs.
Yes, like the potential Bears matchup, this game would be played in East Rutherford, but the Lions are not a tough matchup for the Giants.
The Lions cannot run the ball and they cannot stop the run; they are very much one-dimensional. Not being able to run the ball would not necessarily hurt the Giants; they might even be successful against the Lions.
Not to mention how young of a team the Lions are. The Giants have seasoned veterans on both sides of the ball and would not freeze under the limelight. That is not to say the Lions would, but the Giants definitely have an edge, as the Lions have not been to the playoffs in forever.
Here are the numbers for those of you who like to see the matchup on paper.
- Detroit Offense: 11th ypg, third ppg, eighth pass ypg, 22nd rush ypg, 14 giveaways
- New York Defense: 21st ypg, 20th ppg allowed, 18th pass ypg, 21st rush ypg, 22 takeaways
- Detroit Defense: ninth ypg, 19th ppg, fifth pass ypg, 27th rush ypg, 23 takeaways
- New York Offense: 13th ypg, 16th ppg, fifth pass ypg, 31st ypg, 15 takeaways
Although on paper it looks like the Lions have an advantage, the playoffs aren't played on paper. I like Eli Manning and his clutch gene in this matchup.
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This will be the shortest analysis you'll ever see. Both teams in 2011 have been a bit sporadic. They both have bad losses on the season and, at times, both have looked like elite teams.
It boils down to where the game is played, as I believe these teams are very evenly matched, despite what it may say on paper.
Both have good quarterbacks with Super Bowls rings; both have bend but don't break opportunistic defenses.
If the Giants get the Saints at home, I like the Giants. If it is vice versa, which is the more likely of scenarios, I like the Saints in a blowout.
The Saints are one of the best, if not the best, home teams in the NFL. As poor as the Giants have looked at home, the Saints have looked equally bad on the road, losing to the Bucs and Rams and barely escaping with a win at Carolina.
Plain and simple, the home team would win.
Advantage: Home Team
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This matchup will again depend on where the game is played, but first and foremost, it depends on which New York Giants defense shows up to that game.
If they should meet, the Giants will win if the defense that has shown up the last two weeks stopping the run shows up against the Falcons.
If you take out the garbage time 60-yard run by McCoy on Sunday, the Giants have allowed 76 yards on 32 carries and 77 yards on 20 carries in their last two games.
The Falcons love to lean on Michael Turner to set up their passing game, so if you take that away, beating them becomes much simpler.
The NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, so I like the Giants to stop the run and win a potential matchup.
As you have come to notice by now, these games depend on a great many factors and have several variables that could swing the matchup either way.
In general, the Giants stack up talent wise so long as they stay healthy. That has proven to be a problem this year obviously, but that could be a blessing in disguise. They have been careful with all their injuries, which could mean a fresher team come playoff time.