Why the Giants Will Win the NFC East, Why They Won’t, and What Will Actually Happen
The NFC West’s brand of football is precisely what the NFC East used to be, only more turbocharged.
It’s exciting—the games are usually shootouts where anything goes. It’s loaded with some of the best talent in the conference, and it has become the undisputed “Beast” of the NFC, in my opinion.
The NFC East? There’s a reason why people call it the unflattering NFC Least. The quality of football that throughout the 1980s and 1990s has faded into a distant memory. The last time the same team won the division in consecutive years was in 2003-04 when the Eagles were the toast of the division.
This year? Ahead of Week 11 games, the division is a measly 10-26-1 with seven weeks to go in what’s been an unusual season headlined by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given the way things are going, the winner of this division—yes, someone has to do it—might very well be the first team since the Seahawks finished 7-9 to win the NFC West in 2010.
Can that winner be the Giants? Let’s explore the possibilities.
Why the Giants Will Win the Division
Is there any debate that of the four NFC East teams, the Giants are playing the best football at the moment?
A big step toward winning the division, especially if no one team separates itself from the pack, is the division record itself because, after the head-to-head tiebreaker, the division record is the second item in the pecking order.
Currently, the Giants division record is 3-2, the best mark among the four teams. They’ve swept the Washington Football Team (2-2) and have split with the Eagles (2-2).
If they can beat the Cowboys (1-3), who host Washington on Thanksgiving (Giants fans will want to root for Washington in that one) in the regular-season finale, the Giants will be in a position to finish with the best record in the division.
And even if Washington, whose division record would improve to 3-2 to match the Giants if they beat Dallas, were to finish with tied with the Giants against NFC East play, again, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head, where the Giants have owned Washington.
Why the Giants Will Not Win the Division
Their remaining schedule is a murder’s row. I know I regularly say “any given Sunday,” which means the Giants have a chance.
However, four of their remaining six opponents have winning records (Seattle at 7-3, Arizona at 6-4, Cleveland at 6-3, and Baltimore at 6-3).
Those games are sandwiched around two opponents with losing records: the Bengals (2-6), whom the Giants face coming out of the bye, and the Cowboys at 2-7, whom they face in the regular-season finale.
The Giants, right now, remind me of a draft prospect from a small school getting the best of its competition just enough to draw attention to be in the conversation for a top spot.
And it’s true. This rebuilding Giants team, which needed their first four games of the season for the new coaching staff to figure out what it does well and what it doesn’t, has yet to defeat a team with a winning record this season.
Giants head coach Joe Judge likes to say that every week is a new beginning and that the two teams that line up are 0-0 because they’re technically not the same team they were the week prior.
He’s not wrong in thinking that because every week, a good team will feature a game plan that maybe places more of a spotlight on one area over another.
With that said, there are more established teams than the Giants right now with fewer questions related to injury, experience, and consistency.
Unless the Giants can resume what they started in their two-game winning streak before the bye, they are likely facing a bumpy road ahead.
Speaking of the bye, although the Giants are scheduled to face the Bengals, one of those teams in its class, that doesn’t mean the win is automatic. Since 2003, the Giants are 9-9 coming out of the bye, which is the third-best mark in the division.
What Will Actually Happen
As much as it would be awesome to see the Giants win the division, I’m not so sure they’re ready to go there just yet, records aside.
I still see the Eagles, whose remaining schedule includes the Browns, Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Cardinals, and Cowboys, as better equipped to steal a win or two from among that group they otherwise have no business winning.
If they can win at least three of those remaining games—and a lot of that is going to come down to which version of Carson Wentz shows up—I think they’ll just edge the Giants, who are a half-game behind them in the division standings, out for the division title.