A city of lights, action, cheers, and now… boos. MetLife Stadium had hosted the losing-ist team in football: The New York Giants. This year’s Super Bowl is set to take place in MetLife Stadium and the Giant’s endeavor was to be the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. However, as the season started and progressed, that ambition suddenly diminished.
Fumbles, interceptions, and a foreboding 0-6 record. The Giants had not been 0-3 since 1996! Eli Manning and the Giants, a two-time winning Super Bowl team within a four year period, had faced a struggle never seen before in the organization. They had gone the first 6 games without a single win.
The Giants’ first game was away against the Cowboys. The Cowboys had never beaten the Giants in their $1.2 billion stadium. However, the curse was broken this game. The Cowboys had forced 6 turnovers on the Giants including 3 interceptions by Manning. The game was atrocious for the Giants; however, nobody expected such a terrible losing streak.
The Giants then went on to lost the next consecutive 5 games:
Game 2: Giants vs. Broncos- 41-23
Games 3: Giants vs. Panthers- 38-0
Game 4: Giants vs. Chiefs- 31-7
Game 5: Giants vs. Eagles- 36-21
Game 6: Giants vs. Bears- 27-21
The Giants loss to the Panthers included 3 turnovers and was considered the worst loss of the Tom Coughlin Era. Eli Manning was tackled 6 times within the first 17 minutes of the game! The Giants’ dream of playing in their home stadium for the Super Bowl was blocked by an immense obstacle… No team has ever made the playoffs after starting 0-6. The Giants had lost hope, but their division was not strong.
The Giants won their next four games. Suddenly, the Giants were back in the race for the playoffs. Although they were ugly wins, they were wins nevertheless. The games went as follows:
Game 7: Giants vs. Vikings- 23-7
Game 8- Giants vs. Eagles- 15-7
Game 9: Giants vs. Raiders- 24-20
Game 10: Giants vs. Packers- 27-13
The Giants’ game against the Packers was an upset. A true motivational boost for the Giants. Eli Manning threw for 279 yards, Victor Cruz caught for 110 yards, and the defense forced 3 turnovers. However, a close loss to the Cowboys 24-21 caused an end to the winning streak. Although, it was a deterrent in their playoff hopes, the Giants would take fate into their own hands. The next game, the Giants defeated the Redskins, their division rival, 24-17.Lastly, this weekend, the giants lost to Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers 37-14. The Giants had 3 turnovers, including 2 interceptions thrown by Manning. The Giants were down 24-0 at half time. This enormous deficit led to an inevitable loss.
Being a Giants fan, this season has been a rollercoaster. Highs and lows, ups and downs. However, it has been hard to keep faith in team. In game 15, the Giants were once again shut out. This time, it was the Seattle Seahawks, lead by QB Russell Wilson, who got the best of them. Russell Wilson threw for 206 yards compared to Eli’s weak 156 yards. Andre Brown, the running back for the Giants, only rushed for a measly 17 yards! Lastly, Eli Manning threw 5 interceptions during the game.
In Game 16 against the Lions, the Giants managed to pull out a victory to push their record to 6-9. Eli Manning threw for 256 yards, completed one touchdown pass, and only threw one interception. Furthermore, Giants’ 2011 draft pick Jerrel Jernigan had 6 receptions, one of which was a caught for a touchdown. At the end of the fourth quarter, the two teams pushed the game into overtime with the score at 20-20. The Lions received the ball first, but the giants gained possession by forcing them to punt. After a burst up the field, the Lions put a stop to the Giants’ progression by forcing a 4th down. The Giants’ Josh Brown had a clutch 45-yard field goal and won the Giants the game.
In their last game of the season, The Giants played their division rival, the Washington Redskins. In my experience, this could have been the worst game of football I have ever seen. No matter who won the game, it would have been one ugly victory. The teams used the heavy downpour and cold weather as an excuse, but it did not overshadow the terrible play from both teams. In the first quarter, no team had scored. In the second quarter, the score was 10-3 Giants. With about a minute left in the first half, defensive lineman, Chris Baker, sacked Eli. During the tackle, Eli’s leg got caught under Baker’s body and he injured his ankle. After mustering enough strength to stay in the game, Eli threw an interception on the very next play! This interception led to a Washington field goal to put the score at 10-6. Eli then was carried off the field and did not play for the rest of the game. He was replaced by backup Curtis Painter. At the end of the first half with 2 seconds left on the clock, Jerrel Jernigan ran for a touchdown to put the Giants ahead 17-6. He had 6 receptions, had one touchdown, and caught for 90 yards. In my opinion, he was the MVP of the game. In the fourth quarter, Josh Brown kicked a 38-yard field goal for 20-6 lead. On the last play of the season, Trumaine McBride of the Giants intercepted a pass from backup QB for Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins. The game had ended and the Giants had won with a final score of 20-6. The Redskins lost their final game of the season on an 8 game losing streak. During the game, the teams amassed 7 turnovers, 0-5 in Red Zone attempts, and 16 sacks including 4 by defensive end Justin Tuck.
Eli’s first and last passes of the year both went for interceptions! Also, he threw only 18 touchdowns. Along with that, he threw 27 interceptions during the year including at least one interception every game of the season. The year before, he threw 15 interceptions and 26 TD passes. It seems as if the numbers had switched. This terrible season may lead to the loss of free agents like WR Hakeem Nicks and DE Justin Tuck. In conclusion, the Giants were believed to win the NFC East at the beginning of the season; however, the Eagles were ultimately the division leader.
Being a Giants fan, this season has been a rollercoaster. It was hard to keep faith in my team. Remember, this is the same team that has one the Super Bowl twice in the last few years. Moreover, next year looks like one that needs rebuilding. Tom Coughlin, the league’s oldest coach, and Eli Manning, the starting QB for over almost 10 years, have been under close watch. This year has been an anomaly for Big Blue, but with the 2014 NFL draft consisting of some very good players at all positions, their hopes may still be high for next season.
The Packers and the Lions will be fighting for their playoff lives, when the two teams meet on Turkey Day in Detroit. Lately, the Packers have been dominating the Lions, 15 of the last 16 games and five straight, but the Packers do not have Aaron Rodgers for this contest. Instead of Rodgers, the Pack will be starting Matt Flynn at quarterback. Although Flynn has been horrible with other teams, he has experienced success with the Packers. The Packers have been reeling lately, after they lost Aaron Rodgers with a broken collar bone. Before their game against the Vikings, the Packers have lost three straight games, which has put them in their current position. The Packers were on set to lose another last week, until Flynn replaced Scott Tolzien and led the Packers to a tie. After the Packers replaced Tolzien, Flynn threw for over two hundred yards and one touchdown. After Flynn returned off the bench, the Packers offense totally revitalized and Eddie Lacy returned to his former self. Lacy rushed for over 100 yards for the first time in the last three games because the Vikings could not load the box with Flynn at quarterback. With the offensive support, the Packers’ defense had new life and played great during the second half of the game and overtime. While the Packers look like are improving, the Lions have looked horrible over the last two games. After reaching 6-3, the Lions have been horrible over the last two weeks, losing to the Bucs and the Steelers. The main problems with the Lions have been their defense and knack for committing turnovers. Over the past two games, the Lions have not been able to establish a pass rush, which has allowed them to allow 30 points per game. Along with the porous defense, the Lions have committed 8 turnovers over the past two games and Stafford has thrown 5 interceptions. Although the Lions have been piling up yards, they have found ways to lose games. This rivalry has improved over the past few seasons because the two teams have added talent. This game should be close, but the Lions will probably win the game at the end of the day. The Pack have played well against the Lions, which should give them confidence during the game. The game will be high scoring, if Flynn plays well, because neither have a great defense.
Prediction: Lions win 34-31
Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys:
Like every Thanksgivings Day, the Cowboys will be playing at home. The Raiders have been playing horribly as of late and have lost three of their last four games. The Raiders’ offense has been atrocious over the last few games. Since Terrelle Pryor was injured a few games ago, Matt McGloin has been radically inconsistent. Matt McGloin has averaged 171 passing yards and has completed only 55% of his passes over the past few games. Although McGloin has not thrown interceptions like Pryor, he does not have the explosiveness or dual threat ability like Pryor. Although McGloin has not lost games for the Raiders, he does not improve the team. Along with McGloin unable to lead a passing game, the running game has not been effective as well, since the loss of Darren McFadden. The lone bright spot of the Raiders offense has been Rashad Jennings. Over the past four games, Jennings had rushed for 100 yards twice and 410 total yards over the four games. While the offense has been bad, the Raiders defense has been horrendous as well. Since the Oakland defense has been horrible, it is unlikely that they will be able to stop Tony Romo and the Dallas offense. After a huge win against the Giants, the Cowboys have a great chance of making the playoffs. However, Dallas has been open to losing trap games and this game is a trap game. If the Boys are going to win this game, they must not over look the matchup and play as well as they did against the Giants. Tony Romo must not throw interceptions and continue finding his big play receivers and tight end. Along with the Cowboys success on offense, the Cowboys have been great at forcing turnovers on defense. Although the Cowboys can give up lots of yards, they should be able to build off of their strong performance from last game and shut down the Raiders’ offense. The Cowboys will probably be able to force a few turnovers against the Raiders and blow out the Raiders at home. On offense, the Cowboys should be able to score at will because they are fully healthy and the team is finally meshing. The Cowboys should be able to win by double digits in this game on Turkey Day.
Prediction: Cowboys win 31-20
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens:
The Ravens and Steelers will meet again on Thanksgiving and the winner should be in position to make the playoffs as the last wild card position. Although the Steelers started the season 0-4, they have played great since their bye and have won 5 of their last seven games. During their streak, they have won their past three games and are playing like a playoff quality team. The Steelers have won their previous meeting against the Ravens and hope that they can go 2-0 against their rivals. The Steelers have played well because their defense has been playing great and Ben Roethlisberger is playing like the two time Super Bowl Champion. Besides for the Lions 24 point outburst in the second quarter, the Steelers have allowed only 24 points over the past three games, while scoring 87 points. Over the past three games, Ben has thrown for over 800 yards and 7 touchdowns, while only throwing one interceptions. Although the running game has been stuttering over the past few weeks, Antonio Brown has stepped up and has looked like a number one receiver. During the past three weeks , Brown has recorded 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. Along with Brown, Jerricho Cotchery has been great in the red zone and has made great clutch catches on third down. The Steelers hope that Ben Roethlisberger will continue his success against the tough Ravens defense. The Ravens have flipped flopped over the last few games, but played very well last week against the Jets, especially the defense. Although the Ravens offense have not posted great numbers, they have switched their offensive philosophy, which will help their team in the future. The Ravens have started to run the ball more often over the past few games. Although they did not have success running on the Jets, like many teams, the threat of running the ball with Ray Rice enabled the wide receivers to speed past the cornerbacks and catch the ball for big yardage. Last season the Ravens took advantage of Flacco’s huge arm and Rice’s legs. Along with the Ravens offense, the defense has improved over the last few games. Although the Ravens are improving, the Steelers have been playing great football. The defense has improved greatly and will be able to stop the Ravens, like the Jets. On offense, the Steelers will score on the Ravens defense. However, the game should be close and a classic.
Prediction: Steelers win 21-19
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns:
After starting the season 0-8, the Jaguars have won two of their last three games and are playing inspired and quality football the past few weeks. The improvement for the Jaguars has been due to their ability to force turnovers on defense, while limiting the turnovers on offense. Over the past few weeks on offense, the Jaguars have kept their offense simple for Chad Henne at quarterback. The Jaguars offense has been predicated upon Maurice Jones Drew so Chad Henne is not asked to do too much and lead the offense by himself. Over the past three games, MJD has scored a touchdown in each of the past games. Along with the emergence of MJD, Denard Robinson has been given more touches because of his dynamic ability and his ability to change the game offensively. While the offense is improving, the defense has taken great strides. The defense has been able to stop the run, which has made the opponents one dimensional on offense. Since the Jaguars have been playing poor quarterbacks and will be playing another this weekend, their plan to stop the run and force quarterbacks to beat them should lead them to success. While the Jags have been playing better, the Browns have been playing badly since the loss of Brian Hoyer. The Cleveland offense has been horrible and has averaged only 15 points per game over the last two games. Besides Josh Gordon on offense, the Browns have no play makers that can stress the defense and threaten defenses. Brandon Weeden cannot throw four good passes in a row, which makes it difficult for the Browns to sustain a drive. Along with Weeden, the running game for the Browns have been atrocious, which has destructed their team. Although the Browns have one of the worst offenses in the league, their defense is one of the top defenses in the league. Although they have had trouble in recent games, they are ranked top 6 in the league in passing and rushing defense. Although the Browns do not have a great pass rusher, their great secondary has given the rushers more time to reach the quarterback. The Browns have been successful in the secondary because they have Joe Haden. Haden has the ability to be like Darrelle Revis and stop the opposing offense’s best receiving threat. Although Haden can shut down a receiver, the Jags do not have a top wide receiver that they must throw to. The Jags should be the favorite in the game because they have been playing well and are a better road team than home team. MJD will lead the Jags on offense and their defense should be able to stop the Browns and win the game.
Prediction: Jaguars win 24-17
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts:
The Colts and Titans are both fighting for their playoff lives this weekend. Although the Colts have a great chance to make the playoffs, they have not been playing well, especially at the start of games. The Colts should have lost their last four games, but Andrew Luck has been great at returning his team out of a big hole. Last week, the Colts played their worst game of the season at the Cardianls, 40-11 loss. The problem with the Colts has been their defense. Although they played great defense and had a great pass rush at the beginning of the season, they have allowed, on average, 33 points per game during the last four games. The defense has added pressure to Andrew Luck, which has forced him to throw more interceptions. Along with a poor defense, the Colts’ lack of running game has forced Luck to throw a lot of passes. Also, teams have been able to drop multiple men back in coverage and wait for Luck to throw the ball to his wide receivers. To make matters worse, the Colts lost their top receiver and leader Reggie Wayne for the season with an ACL. Without Wayne, the Colts do not have a number one wide receiver and TY Hilton is not a legitimate number one recover in this league. While the Colts have been playing inconsistently, the Titans have been poorly, as well. Since Muhammed Wilkerson wretched Jake Locker in week 4, the Titans have not been the same football team. While the defense has been consistent, the offense cannot score points with regularity. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a good enough quarterback to lead a team to the playoffs. Although Fitzpatrick can play well against poor defenses, Fitzpatrick cannot lead an offense against a quality defense, without throwing numerous interceptions. In the game against the Colts two weeks ago, the Colts won the game 30-27. In the game, Fitzpatrick did not throw a touchdown. Chris Johnson had the best game of the season. The Colts will be looking to stop Johnson, since Ryan Fitzpatrick cannot lead the Titans past the Colts. The Colts had success last time on the ground, which would make the Colts indefeasible. The Colts are playing at home, this game, which should give them added determination to win the game. The game should be close, but the Colts will likely be close. Andrew Luck’s ability to find receivers in close games will be the reason why the Cots win this week.
Prediction: Colts win 31-24
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings:
The Bears are tied for first in the NFC North and hope that they can reach the playoffs for the first time in three years. Although Jay Cutler has missed the past few games with any injury, Josh McCown has been great for the Bears over the past few games. The Bears have been 2-2 since the lost of Cutler, but they are still tied with the Lions in the NFC North. The Bears have been great on offense because McCown has been solid and they have great talent on offense. McCown life has been better because he has Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, and Martellus Bennett. In the past four games he started, Josh has thrown for over 200 yards in each of the games and has only thrown one interception while completing 7 touchdown passes. Along with the wide receivers, Matt Forte is a great running back for McCown because he can run effectively and catch passes out of the backfield, when others are covered. Forte has compiled 1250 total yards from scrimmage this season. While the Bears offense is dynamic, the defense has been struggling of late because they cannot stop the run. Since they have lost many people to injuries, the defensive line and linebacking core is depleted and they do not have the depth maintain decency. Over the past four games, the Bears have allowed at least 145 yards on the ground. This week, the Bears will be in trouble because they are playing the best running back in the league, Adrian Peterson. This season has been an absolute disaster for the Vikings because they have had unstable quarterback performance. The Vikings have found that Christian Ponder is not the quarterback for the future. Along with a horrible quarterback, the Vikings do not have any quality wide receivers to help Ponder grow and improve as a quarterback. The lack of performance in the passing game has made Adrian Peterson’s life incredibly difficult. Although Peterson is a great back and will rush for about 1500 yards this season, the offensive line does not provide holes for Peterson. Along with the lack of holes, Peterson has been hampered by nagging injuries the whole season. In this game, the Bears will need to stop the run, in order to win the game. However, the Bears will make sure that Peterson does not have a huge game and blow the game open. On defense, the Vikings do not have any options for the Bears and they talented play makers. In their previous game in week 2, the Bears exploded for 31 points and the Vikings were unable to stop the Bears passing attack. The game should be close, but the Bears should be able to win.
Prediction: Bears win 24-20
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles:
Although this game seemed like a bad game int he beginning of the season, the Eagles and Cardinals are two teams over .500 and have chances of making the playoffs. Since Foles over took Michael Vick in the Giants game, he has been great in every game, except against the Cowboys. On the season, Foles has thrown 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions while leading the Eagles back into the NFC East division standings. Although Foles has been good, the offense as a whole has been clicking on all cylinders, since the defeat at the Cowboys. In the past three games, the Eagles are 3-0 and have scored 33 points per game. Much of Foles’ success this season can be attributed to the wide receivers of the Philadelphia Eagles. DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper have played great football and have given Foles open targets deep down the field. Along with the passing game, Shady McCoy has led the number one rushing attack in the NFL. McCoy is great because he can run with power, make people miss, and catch the ball out of the backfield. Along with the offense, the Eagles defense has improved, but they will be tested this weekend against the Cardinals. While the Eagles have been a surprise, the Cardinals are the best kept secret in the league. Although the Cardinals were thought to have another down season, they are currently tied with the 49ers for the 6th place in the NFC. The Cardinals have won four straight games, including a blow out win against the Colts last week. In the past few games, Carson Palmer has played quality football. Over the last two games, Palmer has looked like the quarterback that led the Bengals to the playoffs nearly a decade ago, while throwing for a total of 733 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. The development of Malcolm Floyd as a number two wide receiver has given Palmer another option, besides Larry Fitzgerald. In the past few games, the Cardinals’ running game and the combination of Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington have started to strike fear into opponents and have forced defenses to honor the running game. Besides the Cardinals offense, the Cardinals defense has given up 15.5 points per game in their last four games, while they have been scoring 30 points per game. In this game, the Cardinals and Eagles should post a lot of points. However, the Cardinals will likely win the game because they are playing better defense. Although the Eagles should play better at home, they play better on the road so the home field is not really an advantage.
Prediction: Cardinals win 38-31
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers:
The Bucs are heading into Carolina on a three game winning streak. The Bucs are playing their best football of the season and have surprised many during their wins against the Dolphins, Falcons, and Lions. The Bucs have been playing better because Mike Glennon has steadily improved throughout the season. Glennon has found a magic connection with Vincent Jackson, which has enabled them to move down the field and score points with regularity. Along with the improved passing game, the running game has been consistent, although they lost Doug Martin for the season. Although Bobby Rainey did not have a quality game, he drew attention from the Lions’ defense, which enabled Glennon to find his big play receiver. Besides the improved offense, the defense has been great over the past few games. The opponents have allowed 23 points per game during the past three games. The good defense can be attributed to the success of the secondary, which has plenty of star power. The Tampa secondary held Stafford to less than 300 yards, while throwing four interceptions. The Tampa defense, especially Darrelle Revis, when he was playing in the first half, was able to hold Calvin Johnson to only 119 and no touchdowns, which is fantastic, considering current games. While the Bucs are playing well, the Panthers may be the hottest team in the league. The Panthers’ success is due to their great defense. The Panthers” have won seven straight games because the defense has no given up more than 20 points in any game, during the streak. The Panthers have allowed less than 13 points per game this season. Along with the great defense, Cam Newton has provided clutch play, which has vaulted them above other quality teams during their streak. Although Cam is not a game manager, he does not take many chances because he knows that opponents cannot go the whole field against his defense. Newton is the best dual threat quarterback in the league so teams must be ready for his speed and size. Newton’s ability to run sets up open passes to Steve Smith and Greg Olsen. In this game, the score will be low scoring because they both possess ferocious defenses. However, Carolina should be the favorite because they are a better team with more fire power and have been more clutch than the Bucs.
It looks like Tony Romo will be a Cowboy for the rest of his career. This offseason, Jerry Jones made a hefty investment in Romo when he inked a 6 year-$108 million extension. Although he has proven to be decent in the regular season, all NFL fans know about his habit of underachieving when the pressure is at its highest. Two years ago, the Cowboys had a shot against the Giants in Week 17. If they won, the G-Men would have been eliminated and the Cowboys would have clinched a spot in the postseason as the NFC East winner. Unfortunately for Romo, the Giants staged a comeback and won the game along with the division and eventually the Super Bowl. Last year, the same opportunity arose for Romo and his Cowboys. In Week 17, he played the Washington Redskins to clinch a spot as winners of the NFC East and play into the postseason. Yet, he failed to deliver again, throwing three interceptions and the last one coming on a potential game winning drive with three minutes left in the game.
Romo’s favorite target seems to be the young and explosive Dez Bryant. Bryant is one of the best receivers in the league from a physical standpoint. He has agility, large hands, and can outrun almost all cornerbacks in the league. If Bryant can keep himself out of trouble and focus on football, then he alongside Romo could make a formidable duo that would rank at the top of the NFC East. In terms of offensive output, the Cowboys also have a great RB in DeMarco Murray. Murray was injured for a good chunk of last season (6 games), but still managed to run for 663 yards. As a rookie in 2011, Murray ran for 897 yards and averaged 5.5 yards a carry. This also included a record-breaking performance, when he ran for 253 yards against the St. Louis Rams, which broke Emmit Smith’s Cowboy record for yards in a game (237) . If he can manage to maintain his health, then he can easily cross the 1,000 yard mark next season. This would be great help for Tony Romo who usually takes on the brunt of the offensive burden each season. The Cowboys passing attack ranked 3rd in the NFL but ranked 31st in the rushing game last season.
The Cowboys made a defensive coordinator adjustment when they decided to hire Monte Kiffin and fire Rob Ryan. Kiffin will be tweaking the defense a bit when he switches the formation from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Their secondary needs to get more takeaways this season, because they had a poor showing on that front last year. Although their coverage isn’t terrible, they ranked last in interceptions last year, tied with the Kansas City Chiefs. In order for them to stand a chance in their division against high-powered offenses such as the Redskins and Giants, their secondary needs to buckle up and focus on getting more takeaways to help the offense out. However, Dallas couldn’t do too much in regards to acquisitions this offseason since they were tied up against the salary cap.
The Cowboys must improve their division record, which stood at 2-4 last year, in order for them to have a shot at clinching a playoff berth. Ultimately though, the fate and future of the Dallas Cowboys rests in Tony Romo’s hands. The Cowboys have opportunities to make the postseason each year but can’t take advantage of them. Some credit has to go to Romo though, for even putting his team into those positions so late in the regular season. But in football, we remember and admire the people who prevail, not the people who get so close to victory and fail.