Two wins on the trot and no one outside of the New York Giants camp seems to bat an eyelid, but Ben McAdoo’s side lose one and suddenly the rest of the league takes note as though reality is restored.
Tonight’s match-up with the unbeaten 3-0 Minnesota Vikings and next week’s trip to face the Packers should come as a good demonstration of what the Giants are truly about this season.
If any positives were to come from last weekend’s 29-27 defeat to the Washington Redskins, the Giants were the cause of their own downfall, giving away an inexcusable amount of penalties and, to the annoyance of their head coach, not protecting the Duke.
Odell Beckham Jr’s side-line antics also somewhat overshadowed his on-field performance. The receiver took his time to get going but, once he did, reminded all of the threat he carries with some explosive plays up against Redskins corner Josh Norman.
Only an illegal shove on Norman by the eventually ejected Giants center Weston Richburg stood in the way of Beckham truly making his mark with a catch and run into the end zone during the fourth quarter.
Penalties are already emerging as an early season problem that must be ironed out.
Minnesota’s new U.S Bank Stadium awaits a Giants side guilty of committing 11 penalties against the Redskins last Sunday, costing them a total of 128 yards.
McAdoo’s men cannot afford a repeat against an impressive Vikings side that are capable of punishing the Giants more than Kirk Cousins and the Redskins did.
From Richburg’s two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to one given away by rookie Andrew Adams that cancelled out a blocked punt, it became an extremely ill-disciplined Giants display.
A game for defense…
The Giants offensive line continues to be a worry as far as fans are concerned, which is why many will be unnerved by their ability to protect Eli Manning from a, so far, dominant Vikings defense.
Minnesota took their tally to 15 sacks so far this season last week when they brought down Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton eight times.
Stop the likes of Everson Griffen and former Giant Linval Joseph, though, and the Giants have a good chance a overcoming a Vikings offense that enters the game with the lowest total yards made in the league.
Over $200million used on the defense looks to be money well spent by the Giants.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins has looked a great acquisition and will be a key figure in combatting a large part of the Vikings offense in wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Free agency signings Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison and Olivier Vernon have also been impressive against the run and will look to continue that streak against a Vikings running game that is missing Adrian Peterson dearly.
The Giants have a real chance providing they can stop a defense that has contributed three of the six Vikings touchdowns so far this season.
It has the makings of a low scoring game, but one Eli, so long as his offensive lineman can keep him standing, and his weapons are capable of winning if they can pull out a big performance.
Better performance needed by Eli…
Turnovers, in addition to penalties, pose as another area that must be improved on against the Vikings with two Eli Manning interceptions and one takeaway hurting the Giants severely against Washington.
Despite the Giants’ self-infliction throughout the game, Manning did have the chance to drive down the field late on in the fourth quarter, only to be picked off by linebacker Su’a Cravens with 1:02 remaining.
The veteran quarterback was also guilty of several missed opportunities, missing the wide open Beckham after cornerback Norman had left his marker to make a play on Sterling Shepard on the inside.
His slow progression and lack of re-assessment became another damaging factor when a red zone opportunity on a first down in the fourth quarter saw Manning’s intended pass to tight end Will Tye picked off in the end zone by Quinton Dunbar.
Not only must the Giants offensive line protect Manning against the Vikings, but the quarterback must have a far better week.
He will be hoping to improve on his career statistics when facing the Vikings having completed only 54.1% of his passes.
Ben McAdoo will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat in week three. A win tonight would bode well as far as history is concerned for both the Giants and Eli Manning himself.
A win tonight will be Manning’s 100th in his career and would make him one of six starting quarterbacks in history to have won 100 regular season games and two Super Bowls with one team.
Perhaps more importantly, the last time the Giants started 3-1, they went on to win the Super Bowl. That was in 2011 and the last time they made the playoffs.