It’s remarkable how rapidly the NFL news cycle spins these days, with narratives coming and going on seemingly a daily basis. Just ask the Giants — New York spent three weeks building up good vibes for arguably the first time since 2011, only to have every single one of them lit on fire during a 27-0 thrashing by the Eagles in Philly. It was a jarring reminder of just how miserable last season was, right up to Will Beatty looking like the overpaid version of himself instead of the All-Pro version.
The loss has to call just about everything we thought we knew about the Giants into question. Their three wins have come against opponents that are a combined 6-12, and two of them were over teams that started Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kirk Cousins at quarterback. Against the Lions, Cardinals and Eagles, the only three possible contenders New York has faced so far, the Giants have been outscored by 59 points — and the oft-discussed offensive line has ranged from shaky to nightmarish.
New York isn’t as bad as it was a year ago, but the loss in Philly shows just how far they still have to go. They’re simply a mediocre team at the moment, masked by a nice run against other mediocre teams. The Giants’ upcoming schedule includes Dallas, Indy, Seattle and San Francisco, and right now no one can be that confident of the team’s ability to even tread water in that stretch. The back end of the schedule gets very soft, New York will have to pull off a couple of upsets just to hit nine or 10 wins — and unlike the past few years, that may not be enough in NFC East circa 2014.
Dallas still may have its fair share of doubters, but there’s no reason to think this is a fluke; say what you will about Jerry Jones’s roster management, but the Cowboys have sunk a lot of resources into their offensive line recently, and the potential to become one of the best groups in the league has turned into reality. The NFC South is in shambles, the once-dominant NFC West is seemingly wide open, and none of the big three in the North can keep from inevitably stubbing their toe. So why not Dallas or Philly? In a league flattened by parity, why can’t the NFC East reclaim its spot as one of the toughest divisions in football? And, more importantly, will its rise end up leaving the Giants behind?