The New York Giants did what they had to do Sunday. They got out of Cleveland with a 27-13 win, largely due to Odell Beckham’s two touchdown catches and a stifling performance from the New York defensive front seven. The now 8-3 G-men looked poised to capture a playoff birth for the first time in four years, but the road, which couldn’t have been easier the past two weeks against Chicago (2-8) and Cleveland (0-12), gets a lot tougher from here on out.
None of the next five opponents for New York have records under .500. Pittsburgh is is 6-5 and tied for first in the AFC North with Baltimore, Dallas is 10-1 and first in the NFC East, Detroit is 7-4 and first in the NFC North, Washington is 6-4-1 and breathing right down New York’s neck for a possible wild card berth, and Philadelphia is at 5-5. Pittsburgh has an offensive with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell that can put up big numbers seemingly at will. Dallas is arguably the best team in football, and has two rookies that are both rookie of the year candidates and MVP candidates at the same time. Detroit has an MVP-caliber quarterback in Matthew Stafford. Washington is a bitter division rival with a great quarterback in Kirk Cousins who is always difficult to beat, and Philadelphia hasn’t lost at home all season, and will be hosting the Giants in the regular season finale on January 1.
The Giants may have a little room to breathe after their sixth consecutive win on Sunday, but their real season begins with Pittsburgh next week. These next five games will be crucial in deciding the NFC East and wild card races respectively, and there isn’t an Cleveland or Chicago on the schedule anymore. All of these five teams are dangerous, and the Giants have played down to their easy competition the past few weeks, which should have fans worried to an extent. However, if anything, the Giants have proven over the past few years that they have a proficiency to play down to their competition but also play up to the level of better opponents.
11 wins should get the Giants into the playoffs. Three more wins and New York should be in the big dance, where they’ve proven both in 2007 and 2011 that anything can happen.