Road to NFC East title Goes Through New York

So, maybe just maybe these Giants were correct. After an embarrassing 0-2 start that had everyone calling for the head of coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants players remained unbowed. They said it was only two games and that they'd be just fine. It all sounded like lip service at the time. Sure, what else could they say?

But, you know what? They were right. While most so-called experts had the Giants finishing no higher than third in the NFC East, those closer to the club actually saw the potential in this club. The offense was going to score plenty of points. The new aggressive defense was going to get the job done and the special teams were, at the very least, not going to hurt Big Blue.

But then came the 0-2 start. And we all regressed into ‘the Giants stink and are hopeless' mode. We should have known better.

Now the Giants, winners of four in a row after knocking off Atlanta on Monday night, are not only primed to overtake Dallas and win the division, but they're in very good shape to make a run at the top spot in the conference and secure a potential first-round bye.

Where did this all come from? Well, this is exactly what the NFL wanted and got. With the exception of the Patriots, who thankfully knocked the Cowboys from the ranks of the unbeaten, and the Colts, no one is unbeatable in this league. And, as a result, a Giants club that started 0-2 and looked lost for the entire season, is now 4-2 and loaded for bear – and Cowboys, for that matter.

Last week, we looked at how New York had a very favorable schedule until the big rematch with Dallas on Nov. 11. Now it appears more than likely that the Giants can enter that contest tied for the lead in the NFC East. This isn't to discount the Redskins, who enter next weekend with a 3-2 mark, but the Giants already have a road win against the Skins on their ledger.

And for those scoring at home, besides the 5-1 Packers, the other division leaders are the Bucs and Panthers at 4-2 and the 3-3 Seahawks and Cardinals. Yeah, like we said, this conference is ripe for the taking.

In the coming weeks, the Giants definitely have the better schedule than the Cowboys. Not to mention, a little more momentum.

The Cowboys host the surprisingly dangerous Vikings next week, while New York entertains the not-so-much 49ers. That could tie things up. The following week, the Boys take their week off while the Giants head to London for a matchup with the currently 0-6 Dolphins. Then the Giants enjoy their bye while the Cowboys host the Eagles.

Yeah, like we said, it wouldn't take all that much for New York to enter its rematch with Dallas all even in the standings. Then, a Giants Stadium win over Dallas would leave New York sitting pretty with a one-game lead with seven games to play.

And what have learned from all this? That one game, nor even two, does a season make. And that no matter how much the fans and media overreact, there's always hope. Enjoy the easy win over the Niners, the trip to London, the bye and what is sure to be an exciting second half of the season. Just as we all figured before this all started.

Mr. Professional: Could it possibly happen to a nicer, better guy? A week after going reception-less for only the third time in a decade, Amani Toomer not only caught two passes on New York's first possession, but he also grabbed the team's first score of the game, a five-yard TD pass with 5:32 to play in the first quarter. On New York's next drive, Toomer caught a 17-yard pass to move Big Blue to the Atlanta 1-yard line. By the end of the game Toomer had become the Giants all-time leading receiver in franchise history. We in the media were taught not to root for certain players or play favorites, but you wouldn't be human if you weren't pulling for Toomer to succeed.

Not so secret weapon: We all know already that rookie Aaron Ross can cover and catch. Now it's become pretty obvious that Ross is dangerous coming on corner blitzes as well. Twice late in the first half, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo sent his athletic top pick free – and both times the Giants were rewarded. On the first occasion, Ross pressured Joey Harrington into an incompletion and on the second, he shared a sack of Harrington with Michael Strahan. For good measure, Ross picked off a Hail Mary pass to end the first half. We hate to jump the gun here, but it sure looks like Jerry Reese is 1-for-1 in career first-round picks, which gives him quite an edge percentage-wise over both Ernie Accorsi and George Young.

Attaboy: A TGI attaboy goes out to all the Giants fans that made the trip south. The New York contingent, as it usually is in Atlanta, was vocal and a big-time factor. The ‘Let's Go Giants' chants that resonated throughout the Georgia Dome as the game wound down were especially impressive.

Takin' care of business: In closing, we must give the Giants credit where credit is certainly due. Thrice in the past three weeks, New York was favored against undermanned teams – and all three times they did what they had to do to get the win.


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