By Aaron Weiss
The New York Giants closed the regular season by eliminating Washington from playoff contention, in a defensively charged 19-10 victory. Let’s breakdown the game and look forward to the wildcard round of the playoffs!
Paul Perkins – The Giants notched their first 100+ yard rusher in the final game of the season, and they did it with style. Perkins was dominating on the ground, rushing 21 times for 102 yards, averaging 4.9 yards a carry. They also got another 52 yards and a touchdown from veteran Rashad Jennings, but Perkins, especially in the first half, ran through Washington’s defense like they weren’t even there. The Giants averaged just over 22 rushing attempts a game on the season, but today The G-Men, led by Paul’s 21 attempts, had a season high 40 rushing attempts and 161 rush yards. While the Giants seemed to lean on the running game to make sure Eli Manning didn’t get hurt in a meaningless game, in many ways today’s output was close to the optimal scenario for the Giants’ run game in the playoffs, as they ran the ball effectively, managed the clock well, holding the ball on offense for nearly 36 minutes, a season high, and had 0 turnovers for only the third time this season.
Odell Beckham – Odell only caught 5 passes for 44 yards on 7 targets, and he sat for most of the 2nd half, but he gets the nod for getting his first complete victory against Josh Norman. He maintained his cool throughout his time on the field, unlike earlier in the season in the loss to Washington, and he consistently beat Norman (if not for an a beautiful deflection by Mason Foster on a 4th down there’s a good chance Odell would’ve taken a ball to the end zone with Norman eating Odell’s dust. Odell was not flagged once, whereas Norman was twice called for unnecessary roughness. His maturation from week one to week 16 is only overshadowed by his ability on the field.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – In a year where DRC had been pushed down the depth chart with the additions of first round pick Eli Apple and budding superstar Janoris Jenkins, and a year where his good play had been overshadowed by the aforementioned Jenkins, DRC still managed to be one of the best corners in all of football, right on par with his teammates, and he ended his campaign with a bang. He ended the season with 6 picks, two of which he recorded today, which tied him for 2nd in the league, alongside Marcus Peters and Quintin Demps, and one pick behind Casey Hayward. He leapfrogged teammate Landon Collins. His sack against Kirk Cousins tied him with his superstar teammate Janoris Jenkins with one sack on the year, and he ends the year with 21 passes defended, more than Apple or Jenkins (2 of which he recorded this week). With Jenkins benched in the 2nd half to avoid reinjuring his back, DRC played shutdown defense, and throughout the first half he was great as well. He notched a PFF grade of 92, giving up one reception for 5 yards while being targeted 5 times. With Jenkins and Apple going nowhere, and DRC under contract for two more years, not to mention Landon Collins emerging as one of, if not the best safety in the league, this secondary should emerge as one of, if not the best in football for many years to come.
Ben McAdoo – Just enjoy: https://twitter.com/JordanRaanan/status/815640488476692480
Pierre Garcon – Garcon went for 96 yards on 4 catches. He caught passes for 23, 49, 21, and 3 yards. He led the charge on the Washington comeback, and on a day where DeSean Jackson couldn’t get going, Jamison Crowder only got a little movement, and even Jordan Reed was limited, Garcon was the best weapon for Kirk Cousins.
2nd Half – The Giants held Washington to 78 yards and 0 in the first half, while notching 177 yards and 10 points themselves. The 2nd half didn’t go so well, with Washington notching all of their 10 points, nearly 200 yards, and holding the Giants to 3 points up until the very last play, which meant that the game was actually close until DRC picked Kirk Cousins with under 90 seconds left. There isn’t much to critique here, but clearly the 1st half was much better on all fronts for the Giants than the 2nd half.
Only good vibes after this big win! No Ugly section this week.
Injuries – While there were some scares, such as with Dwayne Harris, it doesn’t appear as though any Giant was hurt in this game, which is fortuitous going into the playoffs.
NFC East Standings – The Cowboys benched Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott for most or all of the game, which led to a loss against the Eagles. The Cowboys finish the division with the 2nd best record in the NFL of 13-2. The Giants ended up in 2nd at 11-5, Washington fell to third at 8-7-1, and Philly ends in last place at 7-9. The only change to the state of the playoffs was Washington was eliminated from the playoffs with their loss to the Giants.
As for the other seeds, Atlanta beat New Orleans to clinch the 2 seed with an 11-5 record. Seattle beat San Francisco to get the 3 seed, and Green Bay gets the 4 seed after beating Detroit to close the regular season (Detroit therefore receives the 6th seed). The Giants will go to Green Bay next week, while Detroit travels to Seattle, and in the AFC a Carr-less Oakland travels to Houston, and Miami will be at Pittsburgh.
Next Week – As previously mentioned, the Giants face Green Bay and the blazing hot Aaron Rodgers. After averaging 6.7 yards per attempt in the first 10 games of the season, when the Packers were 4-6 and had lost 4 in a row, the Packers finished the season 6-0, with Rodgers averaging 8.3 yards per attempt. Rodgers hasn’t thrown a pick since week 10, the Pack have developed a run game in the past few games behind converted WR Ty Montgomery. All in all this offense is one of the most dangerous in football.
Furthermore, the Packers beat the Giants in week 5 23-16. In a putrid showing on offense, Eli Manning had a 51% completion percentage and a whopping 199 yards, while the Giants run game only produced 43 yards, led by Bobby Rainey. On the other side of the ball, Rodgers also only completed 51% of his passes, and he threw two picks, yet he had 259 yards and 2 touchdowns. Additionally, led by one of Eddie Lacy’s best games on the season, the Packers ran for a whopping 147 yards.
Clearly both teams have evolved since then, and there should be a lot of intrigue in this matchup. Both of the Giants’ Super Bowl runs in ’07 and ’11 went through Green Bay. This is Ben McAdoo’s chance to notch his first playoff win as head coach, against his former mentor and team. This is Odell Beckham’s first playoff game, and of course considering the Giants’ history there is intrigue to a potential wildcard to Super Bowl run. As a Giants’ fan I have to believe that the notion of “Playoff Eli” still exists, after an incredibly blah season on Manning’s part, and considering the Giants’ oppressive defense, improving run game, and a fading Packers secondary (who knows if Quintin Rollins will play next week; fingers crossed he’s okay), I’ll say the Giants are going to win, but this game could go either way.
Prediction – Giants wins 30-24, Seattle over Detroit, Pittsburgh over Miami, Oakland over Houston