The New York Giants arrive at Saturday's game against the New York Jets in a desperate situation. The Giants have to win the NFC East to reach the NFC Playoffs, and to do that the Giants have to win their last two games. A loss by the Giants Sunday, couple with a victory by the Dallas Cowboys over the Philadelphia Eagles, would knock the Giants out of the playoffs.
How did the season get to this point for the Giants? Well, let's take a look at their first 14 games to find out.
The Giants began the season 6-2, but as has been their habit during Tom Coughlin's eight-year run as head coach they have faltered during the second half of the schedule. They have lost five of six, the fourth straight season in which they have staggered to the finish line. During Coughlin's tenure the Giants are now 25-37 after the midway point of the season.
Truthfully, there were signs of trouble with this Giants team even during its 6-2 start. Yes, there was a stirring victory over the Philadelphia Eagles and an unexpected one over the New England Patriots, but there was also plenty to worry about. There was a season-opening loss to the Washington Redskins, who have now won just five times (twice against the Giants). There was a disturbing loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks, who were 1-3 at the time and using backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. There were several come-from-behind victories against teams that appeared to be weaker ones (quarterback Eli Manning has led five of those this season).
In all of those games the troubling signs included a defense that was inconsistent against the run and prone to getting burned for the big play against the pass. There was an offense relying solely on the right arm of Manning as it had an invisible running game.
All of those weaknesses have been exposed during the last six games, a stretch of games in which the opposition has been much tougher than throughout the first eight games. If not for a 15-point flurry in the closing minutes against Dallas the Giants would have lost six straight and already be out of the playoff picture.
Still, though, two victories and the Giants go to the playoffs. If they falter that will be three seasons in a row without a playoff berth. That might send Coughlin to the unemployment line.