For the first time since 2013, the New York Giants have seven wins and are in contention for a playoff birth via a wild card spot or NFC East championship. They’ve relied heavily on their multifaceted passing attack with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz and Eli Manning, but the past two games have showed that the run game may be picking up steam and at quite a good time.
The Giants have been at the bottom of the league in rushing for the whole season, only averaging around 74 yards per game on the ground while reaching the end zone only four times. Still, the Giants continued to win, mostly thanks to a vastly improved defense and, if the past two weeks have been any indication of thing to come, an offense that garnered high praise in August might finally start to reach its full potential.
Rashad Jennings rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in New York’s 22-16 win over the Chicago Bears, and he ran for a season-high 87 yards last Monday in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The 172 yards that Jennings has rushed for in the previous two weeks eclipses the 167 total yards he rushed for in the first nine weeks, despite being injured for three weeks. Today also marked his most touches of the season and his most since he carried the ball 18 times in a Week 1 victory over Dallas.
With an offensive line that must have finally corrected all that it was doing wrong, talented backs like Jennings or rookie Paul Perkins can finally showcase their abilities and help take the pressure off of Manning and his core of receivers. This finally makes New York’s offense multidimensional, and teams now have to respect and honor the run instead of just focusing all on the pass, thus opening up the play action pass. This team is finally playing up to their potential in both facets of offense, and with just a few more weeks to go in the season, they couldn’t have picked a better time to start gelling.
The team that’s the hottest is the team no one wants to mess with, and the Giants certainly could be that team come January. With a prolific passing game, a now established ground game, and a defense that has gone from worst to one of the top 10 or 15 units in the NFL, New York has emerged as a serious NFC Championship and perhaps even a Super Bowl contender.