Don't Look Now, but New York Giants Are Rounding into Playoff Form

Jamal CollierAnalyst IIINovember 26, 2012

Victor Cruz celebrated his eighth touchdown of the season on Sunday night.
Victor Cruz celebrated his eighth touchdown of the season on Sunday night.Al Bello/Getty Images

As surely as the first snowflake will fall in the Meadowlands this winter, the New York Giants are doing it again: clicking on all cylinders as the playoffs approach, just the way they seem to like it.

The Super Bowl champions rattled off four straight wins en route to a 6-2 first half of the season, knocking off the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in consecutive weeks.

Those wins had varying degrees of difficulty—yet New York rose to the occasion in its most difficult game, beating San Francisco 26-3 on the road. It then dropped a couple of non-conference games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals as quarterback Eli Manning struggled to post effective numbers.

In the three games heading into the Giants’ bye week, Manning threw for a total of 532 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. By comparison, he threw for 510 yards, three touchdowns and three picks in New York’s Week 2 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers alone.

Manning’s midseason struggles were so pronounced that—nine games into the season for a ninth-year pro—questions were actually being raised about his arm growing tired.

Stop it.

Coughlin said he thinks Eli Manning will bounce back. Says he doesn't believe struggles are due to anything physical

— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) November 11, 2012

Coming out of the Giants’ Week 11 bye, Manning came out and had perhaps his best game of the season against a fellow conference heavyweight, the Green Bay Packers. He threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns without turning the football over once…and that happened at home, where the Giants have been perplexingly less fearsome.

At 7-4, New York now has a two-game lead on the second-place Redskins and Cowboys (5-6) in the NFC East. It will get the chance to extend that lead to three games over 'Skins in Washington next week. Following that contest, the Giants will have at least two more tune-up games against playoff-bound competition.

The Giants will face off with the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15 and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16 before running the annual gauntlet in pursuit of the Lombardi Trophy. If they continue to play as well as they did in their 38-10 dismantling of Green Bay, it will be in a prime position to repeat.

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