Giants Need To Keep Turnovers Down, Health Up

The Giants were 5-2 at this point last season, too, but that group was on the way down while this one appears on the way up. If they take care of the ball and stay healthy, who knows how far they might go.

The Giants have seen this before.

The 5-2 record, that is. In 2009. Only last year, by the time they hit the bye they were 5-4 and floundering. They had hit the tough part of their schedule, making the Kansas Citys and Oaklands seem decades in the past, and were buckling under what would become an 8-8, non-playoff season.

So why, as the Giants scatter for a long weekend, should they be confident that they won't repeat the sins of last year going forward?

Simply because they're playing well now. And, let's face it, the NFC East is not exactly the intimidating division it once was. Competitive, yes, but as Dallas proved Monday, and as the Eagles and Redskins proved earlier in the season, each of the Giants' divisional opponents are eminently beatable.

But looking forward, Tom Coughlin was convinced that the Giants have yet to play their best football.

"This team is capable of playing outstanding football," Coughlin said.

And they'll have just the opposition to do it against. Seattle comes up next week, after which Dallas heads into the Meadowlands without Tony Romo. They'll host Jacksonville after that, and then Washington.

And who knows? By the time they hit Minnesota on Dec. 12, Tavaris Jackson may be at the Vikings' helm. Or better yet, a super-gimpy Brett Favre.

Total record of those guys: 18-21.

"This is a positive situation for us," said Coughlin. "We're going to be aware of what is going on around the league. We'll go from there."

Well, sort of. It's not like the Giants won't have anything to think about during the long bye weekend that begins Thursday. Turnovers, long harped on and long a problem, have turned into a major problem again. The Giants were fortunate enough to escape three interceptions and two fumbles in Dallas, but more often than not a team loses when it coughs up the ball five times.

"It's an awareness thing and something that no one harps upon more than we do," Coughlin said. "Quite frankly, we haven't had the return in regard to that.

"A week ago, we thought we were really on the right track.

"There's no question, whatever type of team you are, giving the ball to the opponent in scoring position and adding to the number of drives he could have in the game anyway, you're only enhancing the percentages in favor of them scoring. There isn't any question in my mind that this is a critical factor and we were able to overcome it (Monday) night. We were most fortunate."

Maintaining their relatively healthy status will also go a long way of insuring success in the post-bye schedule. Players who are managing swelling and such during the week, like Osi Umenyiora, Hakeem Nicks, and until recently, Ahmad Bradshaw, will only benefit from some R&R.  The past has shown everybody that the healthiest team at the finish line usually stands among the leaders, and that translates to postseason play.

Before anybody puts the Giants there, or better, in the Super Bowl, keep in mind there is a long way to go. Seattle simply represents the midpoint of the schedule. But if the Giants can come back with a renewed commitment to cut back on their 19 turnovers (10 interceptions, nine lost fumbles), and are lucky enough to stay relatively healthy over the next nine games, anything is possible.

And if they don't? Let's just say you can't go to that turnover well too often. You'll eventually fall in. After that, all bets are off.


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