It’s more important where the Giants will be positioned in standings come late December than the last week of October. But heading into their bye week, at 5-2, the Giants’ circumstances are as favorable as any team in the National Football Conference.
Four straight wins, including a 41-35 victory over the lifeless 1-5 Dallas Cowboys, have placed the Giants atop of the NFC East, one game ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, both at 4-3.
The Giants’ next game is in Week 9 of the NFL schedule when they will be in Seattle on November 7 to challenge the Seahawks.
With the exception of their specials teams unit, which must sure up its punt return coverage on offensive and defense, the Giants are collectively the equal of the Jets, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, generally considered the best teams in football. To the Giants’ advantage, each of those squads is in the AFC and won’t impede their path to the Super Bowl.
The performance of the Giants’ defense under coordinator Perry Fewell has been the story during their turnaround from a troubling 1-2 start. In the two losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans, the Giants’ defense relinquished a combined 681 total yards and 41 first downs. They have been beast ever since.
In the midst of the defensive prowess, the Giants’ offense has distinguished itself as formidable. At the forefront is running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who leads the league in rushing with 708 yards.
But it is the group of wide receivers, notably Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, at this time last season an unknown quantity following the imprisonment of Plaxico Burress, which has emerged as a dangerous cooperative for opposing defenses.
“We each bring something different to the table but our skills complement each other,” said Hakeem Nicks in the Giants locker room after a win over the Detroit Lions in Week 6. “We play in a system that gives us all the opportunity to make plays.”
After a strong rookie season in 2009, a year later, Nicks has taken another step toward elite status. He’s currently tied with San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates for the most touchdown receptions in 2010 with eight.
Against the Cowboys, both Nicks (108) and Smith (101) exceeded 100 yards receiving, and Manningham scored on a 25-yard catch and run from Eli Manning.