In back to back weeks, the New York Giants have held the division leading Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions to 13 combined points. The defense has played remarkably in front of a passionate home crowd. But as the playoff push is realized, the Giants must show they can take these types of performances on the road.
The 2016 season has been an anomaly for the Giants. Their free agent spending spree has proven to be the injection of life this team needed to succeed. Their most seasoned and respected leader is hardly playing up to expectations. And they have been a dominant force at home, going 7-1 this season, after having only 10 home wins combined the past three seasons. In past seasons, particularly in 2007 and 2011, the Giants have won crucial games on the road against impressive opponents. This season, the Giants have yet to show they can be an effective team away from MeLife Stadium. They must prove that in the next two weeks.
Only two games this year have been won at another NFL team’s stadium; the season opening victory at AT&T Stadium over the Cowboys, and the less than stellar performance at the Cleveland Browns. The only other game they won “on the road” was against the Rams in London. This could hardly be considered a true road test. The other three games, at the Steelers, Vikings, and Packers were displays of mediocre football against teams with legitimate playoff rosters. In those three losses, the Giants were outplayed in nearly every aspect of the game, and actually watching them play offered little solace. The numbers are bad, and don’t reflect a team ready to make a push through the playoffs competing on the road.
The Vikings and Packers games were earlier on in the season, and excuses could be made that the defense hadn’t “gelled” or the offense just needed to find it’s footing, but the game in Pittsburgh was just as inept. In these losses, the Giants converted on just 10-36 third down attempts, while allowing 24 conversions on an even 50 attempts. For the season, the Giants are allowing teams to convert on just 36% of third down attempts, but against these offenses, on the road, they allowed nearly 50% third down conversion. The Giants were severely outpaced in yards 794-1161, sacks, 2-6, and first downs, 48-65. Not only was the strength of the team lacking in limiting offenses, but the defective offense could not show up to keep pace.
Season is Far From Over
People were concerned, and rightfully so, about the performance against the Luke McCown led Browns, but they at least emerged with a victory. The more concerning games are the ones they lost and looked helpless while doing it. The Giants do not have to worry about meeting the Steelers in the playoffs unless they meet in the Super Bowl. But the Vikings and Packers are not even currently in the playoffs. These fringe playoff teams beat up on the Giants in their own stadiums, which can only inspire pessimism when looking forward to a game in Seattle, Atlanta or even Detroit.
That is why these next two games, in Philly and in Washington are imperative for the Giants to at least look competent on the road. A playoff berth is still not guaranteed, but playing on the road is, and if the Giants do play their way in, they must show they can win away from East Rutherford.