The wide talent gap between the Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles was affirmed last Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Coming into the game, their trajectories were headed in opposite directions. The Eagles had the best record in the NFL and their only loss of the season came on Nov. 14 to the Washington Commanders (32-21). They demolished the Tennessee Titans 35-10 the week prior to facing the Giants. 

On the other hand, the Giants were treading water. They were 1-3-1 in their five games before the crucial NFC East matchup with the Eagles and had a disappointing 20-20 tie versus the Commanders at home on Dec. 4 in Week 13. So the 48-22 Eagles’ domination of the Giants wasn’t as unexpected as it was informative. The loss dropped the Giants to 7-5-1 and into the No. 7 seed, the final NFC wild card spot. Conversely, the Eagles are now 12-1, the best record in the NFL, and strengthened their hold on the race for home field advantage in the conference throughout the playoffs.

“When you take a loss like this, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and figure out what you got to do to get better,” said Giants rookie defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux of the loss to the Eagles. The 21-year-old from Los Angeles surprised students at C.S. 55 in the South Bronx this past week, visiting and distributing toys through his Jream Foundation and Toys for Tots. 

Putting the Eagles defeat behind them, the Giants’ immediate charge is to focus on their road game this Sunday against the 7-5-1 Commanders, which has critical implications to both teams’ playoff aspirations. The Commanders are currently the No. 6 seed and have a better winning percentage (1-2-1) than the Giants (0-3-1) in games versus division opponents to give them the edge in a tie-breaker. A Commanders victory would bolster their position over the Giants as head-to-head games are the first determinant in the tie-breaking procedures. 

Giants head coach Brian Daboll is keenly aware his team is confronted with a difficult remaining schedule, which also includes the Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts and Eagles in succession, and the pressing challenge they face going up against a Commanders squad that is
4-1-1 over the last six games.

“It’s a long season. There’s quite a bit of adversity throughout it. Maybe for some teams, it’s in the beginning. For some teams, it’s in the middle, and other teams, it’s at the end,” said Daboll on Monday.

“We’re going through a little bit of it right now, and I think it’s important to stay consistent, do the things that you need to do to try to win games with your preparation and practice. You explain that to your players, which I think they all understand. Again, whether it’s the coaching staff or the players, they’ve tried to remain as consistent as you can be. And that takes some mental toughness throughout the year.”

When this season began, few expected the Giants to be competing for a playoff invitation in the closing weeks of schedule. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year with a first-year head coach and general manager in Jim Schoen. They were 4-13 and tied with the Jets for the third worst record in the league. Yet with the postseason within reach, the outlook and realistic hopes have changed.

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