New York Giants are as confident as ever during their bye week

The New York Giants enter the bye week at 2-6 but they are feeling much better than any other two win team in the league right now. They are coming off of two straight wins, after losing the first six this season, and are as confident as they have been this whole season. Here are a few thoughts on the Giants as they take this week off.

Chance for the division crown?: Believe it or not the Giants are only two games back of the division leading Dallas Cowboys who are 4-4. Last season the Washington Redskins came from a 3-6 record, and three games back, to win the weak NFC East which leaves the Giants with some hope.

The bad news is that the two teams they beat had significant problems especially at the quarterback position, and now the schedule gets significantly harder. Five of their eight remaining opponents are .500 or better at this point so we will find out if the Giants are as improved as they think they are.

Turnovers down, Sacks up: Through the first six games the Giants were turnover machines, and to win in the NFL you need to win the turnover battle. In their last two games the Giants have forced six turnovers and only committed two. In these past two games Eli Manning has also not thrown an interception, after throwing 15 in the first six games, which still leads the league. Manning hasn't been great the past two games, but not committing turnovers has helped the Giants to the past two victories.

The key to the Giants defense is sacks, and getting pressure on the quarterback. Through the first six games the Giants had just five sacks, which was last in the league. Two weeks ago against the Vikings, they had only one sack, but put pressure on Josh Freeman all night, totaling 13 quarterback hits. This past week against the Eagles they had four sacks, their season high, bringing the season total to ten through eight games. If the Giants want to continue winning they need to continue getting after opposing quarterbacks and hitting them often.

Where's the offense?: The Giants may be on a two game winning streak but there offense has been anything but impressive the past few games. You could argue the Giants offense hasn't looked good since week one against the Cowboys, a game in which they committed six turnovers. Despite the turnovers they totaled almost 500 yards of offense, and looked like the explosive offense everybody expected this season.

You would have to think Eli Manning is due for a big second half of the season. The reasons are all of his offensive weapons are healthy, the running game is starting to come along and get healthy, and Eli is a good quarterback who put too much pressure on himself the first six games. After a week off it seems as though Manning will get back to his old self and put up big numbers.

Defense stepping up: Through the first five games the Giants had allowed over 30 points to every opponent, and in week six Chicago scored 27. The past two weeks the defense has not allowed a single point, with the touchdowns each of those weeks coming on special teams. Some of this could be attributed to bad teams with bad quarterbacks, but the Giants have just looked better on defense.

Aside from the sacks and pressure on the quarterback I referenced earlier, the rest of the defense has really stepped up specifically the linebackers. Midseason addition Jon Beason has come in as the starting middle linebacker and transformed the defense. His teammates have praised him, and his play has been fantastic especially in stopping the run. Beason has led the team in tackles two of the past three games.

Another interesting note is how the Giants have been against star running backs lately. They have faced, what you could call, a top running back the past five weeks (Jamaal Charles, Lesean McCoy twice, Adrian Peterson, and Matt Forte) and held all of them under 70 yards rushing. Charles had the most yards per rush against the Giants in that span with 3.6 yards per carry. McCoy was the only one to rush for a touchdown against the Giants in the past five weeks, when he did so in the first meeting with the Giants in week five.

Things are looking up for the Giants as they gladly welcome this week off, but when they get back to work they still have an uphill battle ahead of them. They have a difficult schedule that will show us if the Giants can actually contend for a playoff spot or if they are as bad as their 2-6 record says they are.

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