New York Giants


While fans of the New York Giants may have ended the 2012 on a sad note as their team lost the division championship to the Washington Redskins, hope is renewed as a new season is about to start. Fans have been waiting with anticipation to see if star wide receiver Victor Cruz would be signing on for the new season. With his decision to stay with the teams fans can now rest easy as one of the league’s best is staying. Despite Cruz’s signing, the Giants who have traditionally had one of the best defenses may be a bit weak when the season begins due to other players leaving and injuries.

The first regular season game for the Giants will be against division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. Playing in Dallas, sportsbooks are favouring the Cowboys to win over the Giants. Currently the odds are such that a $100 bet on the Giants could result in a payout of $115. On the flip side, a winning bet for the Cowboys will cost $105 and yield a profit of $100. Many Giants fan remain loyal to their team and place their bets on them to win. Typically in the past, New York has been a favourite over the Giants; however, their questionable defensive line pushed the scales back in favour of the Cowboys.

With this first game still over a month away, New York Giants fans can pass the time playing slot machine games at online casinos like Lucky Nugget. Sports have long been a theme for many slot machine games. One football themed slot machine is $5 Million Dollar Touchdown. This five reel slot machine provides a total of 20 paylines on which wagers can be made. Two jackpots are offered in this game. The first is $5 million which can only be won when the maximum bet of $200 is made on a spin. The second jackpot is $15,000 which can be won on any activated payline even with the smallest bet.

It’s not exactly difficult  for one to correlate NFL players with getting arrested. While some experts may argue that the commonly held belief that pro football players have frequent problems with the law is a myth, good luck convincing the public that all football players are law abiding angles.

Sorry boys, OJ Simpson kind of ruined it for the rest of you.

According to a recent article in Christian Science Monitor, Dan Lebowitz, executive director of Northeastern University’s center for Sport in Society says, “[Professional athletes] are in the public eye and their profile is extremely high. We are talking about very young people with a lot of public scrutiny, and some handle it better than others.” If the destructive combination of high pressure, youthful mischief, and large paychecks weren’t enough obstacles, pro athletes based in New York have a whole other set of issues. In just the past five years, there have been a whopping 1,635,279 arrests in New York. With a climbing crime rate, these New York NFL players have a tough time staying out of trouble.

Here are three Giants players with some pretty shocking crimes on their arrest records.

 

1) Linebacker Michael Boley

Giants linebacker Michael Boley made headlines when he was arrested on charges of child abuse just three days after being cut from the organization. The 31-year-old former linebacker agreed to a deal with prosecutors, according to initial reports. In exchange for a guilty plea, he was ordered to enroll in a pre-trial diversion program and once completed, charges would be dropped. The charges alleged physical abuse of one of Boley’s six children.

Surprisingly, the incident was not Boley’s first brush with the law. In 2008, he was arrested and charged with battery of his wife, Chantelle.

 

2) Defensive End Jeremiah Parker

Jeremiah Parker received more notoriety for his criminal record than for his short-lived stint as an NFL defensive end. Parker only played four games with the NY Giants before he was released in 2000 for “personal problems.”

Three years later in 2003, Parker was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the death of his ex-girlfriend’s 4-year-old son. Parker was ultimately convicted of endangering the welfare of a child in the second degree. The same jury also acquitted him of the first and second degree manslaughter changes that the prosecution was pushing for. According to reports, Parker would punish the 4-year-old boy by locking him in a refrigerator, and violently whipping him with a belt. Prosecutors argued the boy suffered from months of abuse before he died in 2001.

 

3) Wide Receiver Plaxico Burress

In a rather embarrassing legal slip up, Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg at a nightclub — not a good look for a professional football player. Is it still considered a violent offense when you accidentally victimize yourself? Burress was charged with attempted criminal possession of a weapon.

While Burress’ legal snafu occurred a few years ago, once this ambitious wide receiver was out on parole, he got right back into professional sports. At 35, Buress now plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In an unexpected turn of events, this heat packing pro baller just announced that he is now a luxury sock designer. Click here if you don’t believe me.

More To Come

Pro athletes making bad decisions is certainly nothing new. Last month, Lions receiver Titus Young was arrested three times in one week! Tales of celebrities falling from grace are sure to keep making headlines and captivating readers. While some of these stories are little more than hyped up celeb bashing, the athletes listed above did some truly horrible things, and deserve to be called out for their atrocious behavior. There’s a difference between mean-spirited voyeurism and justifiably exposing a dangerous individual.

Let’s hope none of our children are staring up at a Michael Boley poster on their wall, wanting to be just like him.

Jessica Ruane is a San Diego Chargers fan. She blogs about crime, family, and personal safety for online companies. Check out her favorite Twitter feed to learn some cool safety tips!

The Giants season is going down the tubes, but that doesn’t mean the some G-Men will continue to play no matter what happens on Sunday.

Wide receiver Victor Cruz, offensive guard Chris Snee, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul have been selected to the pro-bowl.

Kicker Lawrence Tynes was named as first alternate and Eli Manning and David Wilson were named second alternates.

Cruz gathered the most fan votes (a third of the selection process) of any Wide Receiver. Two years ago, no one in sports gambling would have thought that.

“I’m honored and humbled to be selected,” Cruz said in a statement released by the Giants. “It really is a dream come true for me. The Pro Bowl is a great individual achievement, but I know I couldn’t have been named to the Pro Bowl without the support of my teammates. Eli is one of the great quarterbacks in the game. He has done so much for my career.

“Right now, I’m really focused on going out Sunday and our team playing as well as it can, getting a great team win against the Eagles and hoping we get the opportunity to further our season.”

Pierre-Paul will start for the NFC. He was voted a starter last year but had to bow out because of the Super Bowl.

“Just like last year, I would much rather not play in the game because I want to be with my team at the Super Bowl,” Pierre-Paul said. “But it’s a great honor to be selected among the best in the NFL at my position.”

Snee – Tom Coughlin’s son-in-law – has been selected to four pro bowls. The first Giants since Jeremy Shockey to do so.

“It’s always an honor to be selected to the Pro Bowl,” Snee said. “It doesn’t quite feel right coming off of our last two performances [losses to Atlanta and Baltimore], but it is an honor because you’ve earned the respect of your peers, the coaches and, of course, the fans.”

The brand-new kids on the NFC East block was sorry for letting the pro champs off the hook the last time, and they would not let it happen once more.

6 weeks after two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning edged the Washington Redskins (6-6) on a long, late touchdown pass that started relocating the Redskins’ season into a sputtering tailspin, a pair of arising novice stars assisted Washington get revenge and eke out a 17-16 sway the New York Giants (7-5) at FedExField in Landover, Maryland on Monday night, enough so you may plan to bet the Superbowl XLVII.

More importantly, after their earlier roadway loss to the Giants began a three-game losing streak that put the Redskins at a disappointing 3-6, Washington is back at.500 following its 3rd straight triumph (all within the NFC East), and connected with Dallas (6-6), just a game behind the defending Super Bowl champ Giants, who missed out on a golden chance to afford themselves some divisional breathing room with just 4 weeks to play in the routine season.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III (13-for-21, 163 lawns, one touchdown; five carries, 72 lawns), much better known as “RG3,” revealed once more, throughout his Monday Night Football debut, why the two initials in his nickname can quickly stand for “Really Good.”That may eventually go into Super Bowl Facts.

While the production of the dynamic 2012 2nd general draft pick was restricted by some time-consuming New York drives over the very first three quarters (when the Giants held the ball for nearly 29 of the game’s first 45 minutes), Griffin and fellow rookie, running back Alfred Morris (22 holds, 124 lawns), keyed a comprehensive game-winning drive of their very own, covering the last two quarters.

Trailing 16-10, the Redskins went 86 yards on 12 plays in 6:38 to take the lead for good, as Morris ran 5 times for 41 lawns and Griffin hurried when for seven yards while finishing 3 of four passes for 31 yards.

The last of those throws began a magnificently created play that terribly perplexed the Giants’ defense and enabled Griffin to roll to the right on a choice run, before throwing an eight-yard rating pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon (game highs of eight catches and 106 yards, one touchdown) with 11:31 left in the game.

Whereas Griffin, the long-haired, 2011 Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor, sustained his anticipated fast-track to stardom, Morris, a sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic, continued to surprise, as he came to be just the 2nd Redskins newbie to eclipse 1,000 hurrying yards.

That achievement etched the Redskins into the NFL record books as the first team to have a 1,000-yard novice rusher and a 2,000-yard newbie passer in Griffin, who also set a league record for hurrying lawns by a novice quarterback with 714 hurrying lawns.

Prior to that duo’s late-game heroics, the Giants controlled the game all over however on the scoreboard, as their season-long problem of settling for field goals over touchdowns continued to plague them– in large part, because of nine penalties, more than two times their 4.4 per game average, which had rated second-best in the league.

Scoring simply a lone touchdown in the game, New York drove inside the Washington 30-yard line on each of its very first 4 possessions, and 5 times overall.

The very first of those trips was an 11-play, 69-yard drive that took 6:32, throughout which a 39-yard field goal by kicker Lawrence Tynes gave the Giants a 3-0 lead.

Responding instantly after the occurring kickoff, the Redskins needed just four plays to go 80 yards for their first lead, as Griffin finished a 25-yard pass to Garcon and Morris ran for 19 lawns to set up a fortunate touchdown for Washington as Griffin ran for 12 yards and fumbled.

Wide receiver Joshua Morgan (two catches, 17 yards) alertly selected a loose ball out of the air and ran it in 13 yards for a 7-3 Redskins lead after Griffin lost the ball simply before falling on his back.

Going on an additional long drive of almost six mins, New york city moved 51 lawns on 13 plays, but Tynes hooked a 43-yard field goal attempt broad left, early in the 2nd quarter.

A 13-play, 85-yard drive that took nearly half (7:23) of the duration led to the Giants’ only touchdown on New York’s next possession, as Manning (20-for-33, 280 lawns, one touchdown, one sack) finished a 24-yard pass to tight end Martellus Bennett (five catches, 82 lawns, one touchdown) and returned to Bennett on a four-yard touchdown pass four plays later on, to restore a 10-7 lead for the Giants.

But again, the Redskins answered as soon as possible, with Griffin finishing passes of 18 and 35 yards to Garcon on the following two plays, to move to the New York 13-yard line.

Washington can go no more though, and handled only a 33-yard field goal from kicker Kai Forbath to link the game, 10-10, with 41 seconds left in the half, leaving simply sufficient time for the Giants to grab the lead once more before halftime.

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (24 sells, 103 yards) ran for 13 lawns prior to Manning finished passes of 13 lawns to novice wide receiver Reuben Randle (his only catch) and 28 lawns to Bennett, to let Tynes make a 40-yard field goal that placed New York ahead, 13-10, at intermission.

History suggested that benefit would have held up– as the Giants had actually won an NFL-record 26 consecutive games, over 6 years, when leading at halftime– especially because Manning was a hot 14-for-22, for 187 lawns, with completions to seven different receivers by that point.

However, Manning was simply six-for-11 for 93 lawns in the 2nd half, during which his beloved first-half target (Bennett) had no catches, and Bradshaw was additionally held to only 26 yards on nine rushes in the 2nd half after generating 77 lawns on 15 first-half carries, as New york city punted three times on four second-half possessions.

A dazzling 46-yard, the second-longest of Griffin’s job, began the Redskins’ opening possession of the 3rd quarter, but Morris lost the ball on a fumble at the Giants’ 15-yard line on the following play, when linebacker Chase Blackburn (eight deals with, four solo, one required fumble) popped the ball loose and fellow linebacker Keith Rivers (4 takes on, one fumble recovery) recovered.

An eight-play, 75-yard New york city drive followed, highlighted by a 49-yard completion up the right sideline from Manning to wide receiver Victor Cruz (5 catches for a team-high 104 lawns). The trip ended with a 35-yard field goal by Tynes that extended the Giants’ lead to 16-10 with 3:09 left in the 3rd period.

The following drive proved to be the game-winning possession for Washington though, as New York– which had the ball for just 4:18 in the last quarter after dominating the moment of possession over the first 3 durations– got only one more first down on its last 2 drives, while punting each time.

Still unable to stop Griffin, Morris, or the Redskins’ unique variations of their handgun choice buildups, the Giants allowed Washington to run out the final 3:51.

“I don’t know just what happened in the second half,” said New York head coach Tom Coughlin. “We certainly didn’t come out and play. Penalties, sloppy football, it seemed like each time we had a [big] special teams play, we had a charge … just very unsatisfactory that our 2nd half wasn’t better … the real element was in the 2nd half, we had a great deal of difficulty stopping them, and we didn’t do anything with our [very own] chances.”

Yet, the Giants could still take advantage of their one possibility that suggests the most– attempting to hang on to a divisional lead with the last quarter of the regular season to play.

Of course, nothing can be taken for granted in the NFL, but New york city figures to have the most convenient competition of the trio of NFC East contenders next Sunday, as the Giants will certainly be residence for New Orleans (5-7) while Dallas takes a trip to Cincinnati (7-5) and Washington hosts a D.C. location Beltway battle against Baltimore (9-3).

Hosting the extremely opportunistic Buffalo Bills, the New York Giants knew ball security would be the key to victory at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Forcing a couple of turnovers themselves, didn’t hurt either. No line in Vegas for sports gambling could have predicted that.

The Giants (4-2), who led the NFL with 42 turnovers last year, and who committed five more in a home loss to Seattle last week, played turnover free football against the Bills (4-2), who entered the game with a plus-11 takeaway ratio.

Cornerback Corey Webster meanwhile, secured two interceptions for New York, the second of which stymied a late Bills’ drive deep in Giants’ territory and led to an eventual field goal by kicker Lawrence Tynes to give New York a 27-24 victory.

The game-deciding boot was the second of two short field goals by Tynes, as the Giants’ other scores came on a trio of one-yard touchdown runs by running back Ahmad Bradshaw (26 carries, 104 yards, 3 TD).

For the second straight week, the favored Giants fell behind 14-7 after the opening quarter, only this time, the ending was much happier for New York.

After the teams traded punts to start the game, the Giants drove 69 yards on nine plays to take a 7-0 lead on a touchdown plunge by Bradshaw with 5:20 left in first quarter.

Quarterback Eli Manning (21-32, 292 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 0 sacks), who tied a career-best streak by going over 200 passing yards for a ninth straight game, completed passes of 17 yards (to Bradshaw), 16 yards (to wide receiver Mario Manningham – 5 catches, 56 yards), and 24 yards (to tight end Jake Ballard – 5 catches, 81 yards) on the drive.

Running back Fred Jackson (16 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD) tied the game though, 7-7, on the next play from scrimmage, going 80 yards on a touchdown against the middle of the Giants’ soft run defense.

A New York three-and-out followed, leading to another Buffalo score just six plays later, as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (21-30, 244 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 3 sacks) connected with Buffalo native and former University of Buffalo star, wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt, who made his only catch of the game at midfield before racing past the Giants’ secondary on a 60-yard touchdown reception that gave the Bills their first lead, 14-7, with 24 seconds left in the opening quarter.

The Giants’ offense scored on their next two possessions to regain the lead, however.
ew York marched 84 yards on 13 plays in 5:28, but stalled at the Buffalo 8-yard line and settled for a 26-yard field goal by

Tynes, to trim the Bills’ lead to 14-10 with 9:51 left in the first half.

The Giants traveled even further on their next trip, going 89 yards in five plays, to take a 17-14 lead on Bradshaw’s second touchdown run with 2:58 left in the half.

The drive was highlighted by wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (4 catches, 96 yards) streaking up the left side to gain 60 yards on an over-the-shoulder catch and run to the Buffalo 5-yard line.

 

New York might have caught a break at the end of the possession when an inconclusive replay showed Bradshaw questionably breaking the plane of the goal line as his knee hit the turf inside the 1-yard line on a second-down rushing attempt.

The Bills responded to Bradshaw’s score with a six-play, 49-yard drive to tie the game, 17-17, on a 29-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Lindell, with 39 seconds to go in the half, after Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey called time out and changed his mind about going for a fourth-and-1 play at the New York 31-yard line.

Good fortune again shined upon the Giants on the Bills’ opening possession of the second half, as a Buffalo punt was forced after linebacker Jacquian Williams wasn’t flagged for clearly interfering on a pass attempt to Jackson on 3rd-and-9 from the New York 36-yard line.

The Giants immediately took advantage, with Manning completing all five of his passes (four of those were for between 11 and 20 yards) during a ten-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with Bradshaw’s final touchdown run of the day following another replay review.

Manningham thought he had his first touchdown reception of the season, but he his knee was down just before the ball reached the goal line, making it necessary for Bradshaw to go over the top on the next play, to put the Giants back in front, 24-17, with 6:53 left in the third quarter.

The score gave Bradshaw his first three-touchdown game of his five-year career and made him the first Gant to rush for that many touchdowns in a game since his current backfield mate, running back Brandon Jacobs (who missed the game with a knee injury) did the same in 2008.

Fitzpatrick tried to attack the Giants’ injury-depleted secondary downfield on the Bills’ next possession, but Webster (4 tackles, 2 pass deflections, 2 INT) made a nice pick in front of speedy wide receiver Stevie Johnson (5 catches, 39 yards, 1 TD), while running stride for stride with Johnson up the left sideline.

New York could not capitalize on the turnover however, as Manningham had a touchdown overturned on first down from the Buffalo 37-yard line. Cornerback Terrence McGee (11 tackles, 2 pass deflections) used his right hand to strip the ball from Manningham’s grasp as Mannnigham fell to the ground in the end zone underneath McGee.

Three plays later, a 50-yard field goal attempt by Tynes was blocked, and the Bills subsequently drove to tie the game for a third time.

Fitzpatrick completed all five of his passes (for 52 yards) during a 12-play, 60 yard drive that consumed 7:02, and finished off the possession with a nine-yard back shoulder touchdown pass to Johnson (against Webster), to even the game, 24-24, with 8:57 left in the contest.

The Bills then forced a three-and-out, and Fitzpatrick quickly moved his offense from its own 26-yard line to the Giants’ 27-yard line after a 32-yard completion to wide receiver David Nelson (4 catches, 62 yards).

But, on the next play, with Fitzpatrick looking perhaps too soon for the go-ahead score, Webster, in the same way he did the first time, intercepted Fitzpatrick up the left side again, staying with Johnson the whole way.

A 15-yard-facemask penalty by Johnson against Webster on the play gave New York some breathing room at its own 19-yard line with 4:02 remaining.

The Giants took to the ground from there with Bradshaw rushing five times for 55 yards, including a key 30-yard burst to the left side on the third play of a nine-play, 76-yard drive that resulted in a Tynes’ game-winning field goal with 1:32 left.

The drive was aided by Nicks drawing two pass interference penalties. The first occurred on the play after Bradshaw’s 30-yard run to the Bills’ 37-yard line, and the second was on a 3rd-and-6 play from the Buffalo 22-yard line, setting up a 1st-and-goal at the Bills’ 7-yard line.

Bradshaw nearly got his fourth touchdown two plays later, but he was tackled just short of the goal line before the Giants later settled for Tynes’ kick.

In between those two plays was a third-down incompletion on which cornerback Leodis McKelvin reached out his right hand to break up a pass intended for Manningham. Another step in front of Manningham, and McKelvin might have taken the play the other way for a game-winning pick-six, reminiscent of a play that cost the Giants a potential win in the final moments against Seattle a week earlier.

But, Sunday was a day on which New York was able to stay away from such mistakes, and as a result, the Giants moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC East, one-half game ahead of Washington (3-2), which lost at home to Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Giants now head into their bye week with the same 2-1 record at home as they have on the road, before they return to action on Sunday, October 30th at 1 pm ET, when they’ll host Miami (0-4), which will visit MetLife stadium two weeks in a row after playing the Giants’ co-tenants, the New York Jets, on Monday night.

Since the New York Giants couldn’t win in Green Bay last week, they needed the Chicago Bears to do that for them.

For a while, it looked like the Giants might get the help they needed.

But, not quite.

For one last week at least, the Giants (10-6) did their part to reach the playoffs, beating the Washington Redskins, 17-14, at Fed Ex Field on Sunday.

But, when a Bears’ drive ended deep in Green Bay territory with 16 seconds left at Lambeau Field, so did the Giants’ season.

New York’s win in Washington was simply too little, too late, as the Green Bay Packers (10-6) clinched the NFC’s sixth and final playoff spot with a 10-3 victory over the Bears and simultaneously eliminated the Giants from playoff contention after another promising beginning for New York.

While scoreboard watching, the Giants jumped out to a 10-0 lead on the Redskins.

An 11-play, 78-yard drive on New York’s second possession of the game resulted in a 20-yard field goal by kicker Lawrence Tynes which gave the Giants a 3-0 lead with 5:03 left in the opening quarter.

The Redskins (6-10) came right back, going 50 yards to the Giants’ 12 yard-line, but kicker Graham Gano was wide left on a chip shot 30-yard field goal attempt that would ultimately be the difference in the game (although the Giants would later miss their own makeable field goal), which could be found with NFL Odds by BetUS.

Three plays later, quarterback Eli Manning (17-29, 243 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 0 sacks) had yet another ball this season deflect off of a receiver’s hands for an interception. It was Manning’s franchise-tying 25th of the season but the only turnover of the game for a team that led the NFL with 42 on the year.

The Redskins, who had four turnovers, gave the ball right back however, with the first of their three lost fumbles, as quarterback Rex Grossman (26-44, 336 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks) was sacked by defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who would later sack Grossman again. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul recovered the loose ball for New York, ending a Washington scoring threat.

The teams then traded punts before the Giants went 69 yards on 9 plays in 4:54 to take a 10-0 lead on two-yard touchdown run by running back Brandon Jacobs (13 carries, 49 yards, 1 TD) with 3:06 left in the first half.

Washington answered though, capping a 7-play, 80-yard drive on a one-yard touchdown toss from Grossman to tight end Fred Davis (2 catches, 20 yards), to pull to within 10-7, with 22 seconds left in the half.

The Giants struck quickly in the second half, scoring on the longest play in the NFL this season on their second play of the third quarter. Manning completed a 92-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mario Manningham (4 catches, game-high 101 yards, 1 TD), who streaked up the right side for the longest play of both his career and Manning’s, to give the Giants a 17-7 lead, 2:41 into the second half.

After the teams again traded punts, linebacker Keith Bullock intercepted Grossman to give New York great field position at the Washington 27 yard-line, but the Giants came away empty as Tynes missed for the first time in 17 tries on a 39-yard field goal attempt.

The Redskins moved into Giants’ territory on each of their next two possessions, but they fumbled to end each of those drives.

The first was on another sack by Umenyiora, who then recovered Grossman’s fumble. The second was even more costly, as wide receiver Santana Moss (game-high 9 catches, 74 yards) coughed the ball up at the Giants’ 10 yard-line.

New York kept Washington alive, with three consecutive three-and-outs and four straight punts in the final period but the Giants’ defense held on a 4th-and-1 rushing attempt by running Back Ryan Torain (18 carries, game-high 61 yards) from the New York 32 yard-line, with 7:37 left.

However, one play after the Giants punted, Grossman hit wide receiver Anthony Armstrong (2 catches, team-high 84 yards, 1 TD), who broke free over the middle on a 64-yard touchdown reception, to pull the Redskins to within 17-14, with 5:52 left.

New York then moved the ball enough to pin Washington at its own 17 yard-line on a punt.

The Redskins managed one first down, but Grossman then threw incomplete on fourth down from the Washington 36 yard-line, with 1:03 left, and the Giants were able to run out the clock.

With nothing to play for but pride after being locked into the NFC’s two seed when they took the field in Green Bay, the NFC North champion Bears (11-5) gave the Giants hope for much longer than expected against a desperate Packers team.

But, ultimately, things didn’t go the Giants way in terms of making the playoffs.

Mostly, the Giants have themselves to blame for that.

Riding a five-game winning streak, the Giants inexplicably lost at home to a Cowboys team that was on a five-game losing streak and playing without its starting quarterback, under Jason Garrett, who was named as a new head coach earlier that week.

Two weeks ago, with a great chance at securing the same two seed that the Bears ended up with, the Giants let a 21-point lead get away in the final half-quarter against what is now third-seeded Philadelphia, which ended the regular season with the same 10-6 record as New York.

And, last week, with a chance to end Green Bay’s season and clinch the six seed which now belongs to the Packers, the Giants, with everything to play for, lost 45-17 – far worse than the Bears lost on the same field on Sunday, with their own playoff seed already a certainty.

Still, if not for two bad NFL rules, the Giants would be a dangerous entry in this year’s NFL playoffs.

Like pouring salt into a fresh wound, it must have hurt the Giants to watch the Seattle Seahawks (7-9) clinch the NFC’s fourth playoff seed with an unimpressive 16-6 win over St. Louis (7-9) on Sunday night.

Although the Giants missed their own chances, the Seahawks finished a far worse 1-3 in their last four contests, and 3-7 in their last ten games, and they enter the playoffs tied for the NFC’s eighth-best record (behind 10-6 Tampa Bay), while the Giants finished tied for the fifth best record in the conference.

Seattle also became the first losing team in NFL history to reach the playoffs, simply because they NFL insists on rewarding mediocre division winners instead over creating a much more equitable playoff system.

The Seahawks’ win on Sunday night came with quarterback Charlie Whitehurst making his fourth career NFL start. His first came the week before the Giants’ loss to the Cowboys. That game was a 41-7 Giants’ rout in Seattle, which made up a significant portion of the Seahawks’ season point-differential of -97, which ranks as the worst ever for an NFL playoff team (in comparison, the Giants finished with a point differential of +47).

The second rule that ultimately denied the Giants a playoff berth this season, ironically involved the team who nearly helped New York reach the playoffs on Sunday.

Going back to the opening week of the season, the Bears escaped with a win over Detroit, when an apparent game-winning touchdown in the final seconds was overturned.

Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson made what was widely believed to be a touchdown catch, but he lost the ball while rolling over in the end zone. The call was correct, but the consensus remains today, that the rule is bad.

Had the Bears lost that game, their loss in Green Bay on Sunday, would have tied them with the Packers, who would have won then the NFC North and captured the NFC’s second playoff seed by virtue of a Week 1 win in Philadelphia.

Chicago would have then lost a tiebreaker for the six seed to the Giants, who beat the Bears, 17-3, in Week 4.

Despite those bad breaks, the bottom line is that after another good first half under Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants completed yet another second-half swoon while falling short of preseason expectations.

New York began with a winning record in each of Coughlin’s seven seasons as the Giants’ head coach, but has had had just two winning records in the second halves of seasons under Coughlin.

After the win in Washington, Giants’ co-owner John Mara ended weeks of speculation surrounding Coughlin’s job security, even though it was Mara who said last season “felt more like 2-14” after the Giants started 5-0, only to finish 3-8 and miss the playoffs.

“There was never any doubt that [Coughlin] was going to be back,” Mara said. “I told him that last week.”

Mara said he told Coughlin after last week’s Giants’ loss in Green Bay, “You’re going to be back next year… regardless of what happened [in Washington], you were going to be back.”

That seems to be the smart move with many players in open support of Coughlin, and with uncertainty over a potential looming NFL lockout looming for next season.

Nevertheless, since the Giants’ unlikely Super Bowl XLII victory, this year’s finish marks three straight seasons of New York’s realistic Super Bowl dreams ending in Giant disappointment.

In addition to writing for New York Sports Day, Jon Wagner contributes at Pro Football NYC (www.profootballnyc.com) and Giants Football Blog (www.giantsfootballblog.com).

If you’re the type of gambler who likes to throw your money down on a toss of the dice, then hooking up with online craps is right up your alley. But if you put more effort into your gambling, like knowing rosters, statistics, weather conditions, and other variables of live action, then you’re probably a sports-better and are wondering what on Earth is up with the G-Men here lately.

Sure, they squeaked past a decent Jacksonville team 24-20, but a 7-4 record isn’t what most expected when the Giants went on a tear earlier this year, decimating Seattle, Houston, Chicago and Dallas (round one).

For the past four weeks, New York has seemed a little more than vulnerable, and something has to give if the G-Men are looking to take down that division and make their way to the playoffs.

With five teams out of conference holding a record of 7-4 or better, there’s no guarantee at all that two playoff teams will come out of the NFC East. This means the Giants’ destiny is in their own hands going forward, and that their upcoming matchups with the Redskins, Eagles, Vikings and Packers are much more important now.

As things stand today, the Giants are 4:1 to win their division. Philly has the tiebreaker to date, and although the Giants play them again in week 15, there’s just nothing real to latch onto here to suggest that the Giants’ defense can contain Vick and the dynamic Eagles’ O.

Luckily for New York, the Eagles’ rematch is a game they can take their licks with, if they can manage to beat Washington in New York and then the Vikings at Minnesota.

However, that still boils down to the Eagles losing to either Houston or Dallas in their next two games.

Needless to say, the December 19 matchup might become a must-win for the Giants. And although it’s really too early to paint a realistic line, the Eagles will probably be favored in New York by a field goal.

Various sportsbooks and online casinos for USA players have the Giants favored by a touchdown against the Redskins this week. If they can pull this game off and win 4 of their last 5, an overall record of 11-5 is 5:4 to earn them a playoff berth. 10-6 – we’re looking at 3:1, as the Saints, Falcons, Bucs, Packers and Bears will all be vying for spots.

One thing that bodes well for New York is that the Eagles get Dallas twice in their remaining 5 games, and the now Garrett-led Cowboys are looking more explosive than ever.

If the Giants can split with Green Bay/Philly, and defeat the Vikings and the ‘Skins twice, a playoff spot should be automatic for the team, if not an outright division win.

By now, some of you might be a little tired of my reliance on FootballOutsiders, and my constant proselytizing about the site.  But one of their more interesting tenets concerns teams’ performance on third down, and how teams that are strong on first and second down, but weak on third down, will improve the following year, and vice versa.

From the FO website (in the Football Outsiders basics section, a must read):

“Teams get fewer opportunities on third down, so third-down performance is more volatile – but it’s also a bigger part of a team’s overall performance than first or second down, because the result is usually either very good (four more downs) or very bad (losing the ball to the other team with a punt).  Over time, a team will play as well in those situations as it does in other situations, which will bring the overall offense or defense in line with the offense and defense on first and second down.”

So let’s look at the Giants.  First the offense, which put up a DVOAs of 19.0% on first down, 20.5% on second down, and 37.5% on third and fourth downs.  To put adjectives to those numbers, we were very good on first and second downs, but we were fucking awesome on third down.  This year, it’s more likely that we’ll be merely very good on third down, so expect some regression there.

On defense, we were very good on first down (-17.8%), below average on second down (5.0%), and pretty bad on third and downs (-9.4%).  So we should expect some improvement on defense, even aside from our improvement in personnel.

For us Giant fans, the critical importance of third and fourth down should be fresh in our minds.  In our playoff loss to the Eagles, we went 4 for 16 in these situations, while the Eagles went 7 for 14.

I’m all for “starting up front,” and I know about how much our D-Line wore down towards the end of last year, but it initially seemed strange to me that the Giants spent so much money on two defensive tackles this offseason (Canty, Bernard) when they had three perfectly good ones on the roster (Robbins, Cofield, and Alford).

But then it was revealed that Robbins had microfracture knee surgery this offseason. The 32-year old – whose contract is up at the end of the year – is not guaranteed to be back by training camp, according to the latest reports. A source close to the team – who I ran into at last night’s Mets game – told me definitively that Robbins’ best days are over. You read it here first: Don’t be surprised if Big Fred gets cut.

(Cofield also had a knee operation. While there has been some speculation that it was microfracture surgery, the source told me that it was just a “complex scope,” and that Cofield – who said he was playing on one leg by the end of last year – should be fine for camp.)

Given the news about Robbins, the large contracts we gave Canty ($17 million guaranteed) and Bernard ($5 million guaranteed) make a lot more sense. Right now, Canty will probably replace Robbins as the “three-technique” tackle on first and second down, while moving out to left end on passing situations. Bernard will push Cofield at nose tackle on first and second down, and will probably be part of our pass-rush package on third down and in passing situations. He’s known as a powerful “pocket pusher,” so we can fantasize about him collapsing the pocket up the middle while Osi, Kiwanuka, and Tuck do their respective things.

Let’s take stock of our D-line depth for a moment. This is a non-exhaustive list, but it shows how oozing with talent we are, Big Fred or not: At the three-technique, we have Canty and Alford. At the nose, we have Cofield and Bernard. At ends, we have Osi, Kiwanuka, and Tuck. And then there’s Clint Sintim, the pass-rushing outside linebacker who will see the field on pass situations as well. That’s a pretty sick assemblage, and one that should stay fresh, thereby reducing chance of injury.

One might reasonably ask why we have invested so much in the duo of Bernard and Kiwanuka, who we refused to part with in any package for Braylon Edwards. This might seem like a steep price for two guys who aren’t technically “starters.”

But whether you like the moves or not, Jerry’s rationale comes down to something that defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said recently, that the third down and nickel package will be on the field 50 to 55 percent of the time, which, one can assume, will be the highest-leverage situations.

When looked at this way, saying Bernard and Kiwanuka “are not even starters” misses the point. Even characterizing them as “half-starters” doesn’t quite capture their value. What the G-Men seem to have done here is recognize the unique value of third down passing situations.

And when considering the Giants’ “collapse” last year, third down defense against the pass is a good place to start. Through the Ravens game (Weeks 1-11) our pass defense DVOA on third down was -6.8%. After that, not including the playoff game, it was 33.8%. (Remember, a negative DVOA is good for defense.) Looking at more conventional stats, we went from giving up an average of 4.91 yards per play through Week 11 to 5.66 after that.

The trend was just as ugly overall against the pass, not just on third down. Through Week 11, our defensive DVOA against the pass was -15.7%. From then on, not including the Eagles game, it was 22.1%. Conventional stats tell the same tale: the Giants had 14 interceptions during the first ten games, but two during the last six.

(By the way, credit for all these stats and many of these points, goes to FootballOutsiders.com. I really recommend that people familiarize themselves with their stats – they’re really the only football stats I’ve found that make much sense.)

So how much of this had to do with our drop-off in pass rush, no doubt a function of our defensive line injuries (Tuck, Robbins, Cofield all banged up)?

Our sack numbers down the stretch were significantly worse than before Week 12.  By no means was our weakened pass rush the only factor in our decline against the pass, but it was definitely a factor.

Through Weeks 1-11, our Adjusted Sack Rate was 8.1%, which would have placed 5th in the league over a full season. After Week 12, it was 6.1 percent, which would have placed around 17th, or roughly middle of the pack. Essentially, we went from a very good pass rush to an average one. All the conventional wisdom about Plaxico notwithstanding, the decline of our pass rush was a big reason we were not the same team by season’s end as we were at the beginning. Credit Jerry for recognizing that and addressing it.

Thank God the Cardinals beat these guys. If not for some late heroics from Warner, Fitzgerald, and Hightower, it’s likely the Eagles would have won the whole thing and seized the upper hand from us only one year removed from The Awesomest Thing Ever.

But as painful as that playoff loss was for us, Philly’s loss the next week had to be worse for them: We still had our ring; they had just blown a late lead and a shot at the Super Bowl, and once again saw their quarterback not get it done in a big spot.

The bad news is that they’ll be back, possibly better than ever. Obviously, we feel like we’ve improved ourselves this offseason, and will be better in than the banged-up, our-of-sorts bunch we were at the end of ’08. But two facts remain:

1) The Eagles were better than us by the end of last year. In fact, their cumulative DVOA of 31.7% ranked 1st overall, a smidgen better than our 29.4%, which ranked 3rd. But their weighted DVOA – which accounts for trends as the season progresses, and doesn’t even include the playoffs – wound up at 30.5%, comfortably better than our 23.8%. I suppose we can take solace in the superiority of our record – 12-5 vs. 11-7-1 — but they can point to beating us in our last two games, in our place.

and 2) They had a tremendous offseason, with the possible caveat of Westbrook’s health (more on that later).

First, let’s do a quick overview of this team’s strength’s and weaknesses, using Football Outsiders’ DVOA stats.

Their offense was pretty good, posting a 9.3% DVOA that ranked 12th in football. Because of Westbrook’s off-year, their passing game (12.2%) was better than their running game (5.4%). (By comparison, our offense was awesome: Our offensive DVOA was 23.7%, which ranked 5th)

The Eagles’ defense was elite: Its DVOA of -20.7 ranked 3rd in the league. It was almost equally good against the pass (-22.1%) as the run (-19.1%). (Our defensive DVOA was -4.8%, which ranked 8th.)

Philly’s defense finished with DVOAs of -3.7% in 2007 and -6.4% in 2006, and because defense is known to be more inconsistent from year to year than offense, will likely see some regression to the mean. But keep in mind that the key players on that defense – Asante Samuel (28), Sheldon Brown (30), Mike Patterson (25), Broderick Bunkley (25), Trent Cole (26), Stewart Bradley (25), Chris Gocong (25), and Akeem Jordan – are all in their prime.

Much media attention will focus on the loss of Brian Dawkins, but the 35-year-old is far from the player he once was, according to Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders, who wrote:

“Dawkins had little left in the tank and won’t be missed, with Quinton Demps competing with new acquisitions Sean Jones and Rashad Baker as the likely replacement.”

But while we’ll expect some regression from their defense, we can also expect an equal amount of improvement from their offense.

As the cliché goes, it will all start up front. Given that the only relative weakness of their team was their rushing attack, it is not surprising that Philly’s offseason moves focused on improving their offensive line: They picked up Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters (2007, 2008), will see the return of Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews (2006, 2007), who will move to right tackle alongside his newly acquired brother, Stacy Andrews (no Pro Bowls, but he’s good).

All three acquisitions represent improvements at their respective spots. Peter will replace Tra Thomas, a longtime stalwart, but one whom the Eagles made no effort to retain this offseason. Stacey Andrews will play right guard, replacing the two backups who replaced brother Shawn, who got injured and missed all but two games last year. Shawn will slide over to replace Jon Runyan, another longtime stalwart who broke down towards the end of the year, necessitating off-season microfracture knee surgery.

Last year, Philly’s O-Line represented a moderate strength: Their Adjusted Sack Rate – a pretty self-explanatory Football Outsiders stat – ranked 6th in the league at 4.3%, no doubt a reflection of McNabb’s rediscovered elusiveness resulting from his return to health and weight loss. But their run blocking, as measured by Adjusted Line Yards, ranked only 16th at 4.20 yards. They particularly struggled in short-yardage situations, a flaw that cost them a game against the Bears and snuffed out a potential comeback against the G-Men in the teams’ first meeting. Their 55% percent success rate in “Power” situations – defined by FO as goalline runs or runs on 3rd or 4th down with two or fewer yards to go — ranked 31st in the league.

They particularly struggled on runs to the left side of the line, according to FO stats: On runs off the left end, their ALY was 3.54 (25th); off left tackle, their ALY was 3.20 (30th). Was this Thomas’ fault, and will replacing him with Peters necessarily help? I don’t know, but the point is that there’s a very good chance that the Eagles’ acquisitions have turned this slightly above-average unit into a big-time strength.

This would obviously improve the Eagles running game, which stumbled last year. After posting a 16.1% DVOA in 2007, the running game slipped to 5.4% last year, still above-average, but a far-cry from the levels that the line and Westbrook had established in years past.

His game-breaking screen-pass scamper against Minnesota notwithstanding, last year was Westbrook’s worst as a full-time back: Battling an ankle injury that caused him to miss two games, he averaged 4.0 yards per carry, down from 4.8 in 2007 and 5.1 in 2006, while his personal DVOA tumbled to 6.9 from 19.9 in ’07 and 23.9 in ’06.

He had his knee scoped at the beginning of this off-season, then recently went under the knife for his ankle problems. Though he is expected to be 100 percent by mid-August, Westbrook’s future is an open question. Will he be as good as new after the surgery? Or is Westbrook, who turns 30 in September, officially on the downside?

Either way, it’s hard to expect the Eagles running game not to improve. Even if Westbrook is not fully healthy, he should be no worse than he was last year. And while Correll Buckhalter did yeoman work last year (11.0% DVOA, 4.9 YPC), Eagles fans are excited about second-round draft pick LeSean McCoy, billed as a good short-yardage runner and a good receiving running back.

But make no mistake: As every NFC East fan knows, as Westbrook goes, so go the Eagles. His health will go a long way toward determining Philly’s destiny, as well as ours.

The same statement can apply to Donovan McNabb. McNabb is a divisive athlete: Some people insist he’s a huge bitch, while others rail against those who insist he’s a huge bitch. I happen to think both cases have merits, but let’s focus on some objective stats.

McNabb’s DVOA (15.6%) ranked 12th in the league, but his DYAR, a more cumulative Football Outsiders stat as distinguished from the “rate” stat of DVOA, ranked 7th. Whichever stat you look at, he’s basically a top-third quarterback. And but for two straight horrific games – the Bengals tie (Huh? That’s even possible?) and the Ravens game in which he was benched — he would have had a top five in DVOA. (But if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle, McNabb detractors would reply.)

Even leaving aside the matter of clutchness, McNabb’s health is a perpetually open question. We are, after all, talking about a guy who sustained season-ending injuries in 2005 and 2006, and missed two games in 2007. What are the chances he’ll play a full season?

If he and Westbrook are healthy, however, this could be a dangerous offense, especially because they’ve accumulated some talent at wide receiver.

DeSean Jackson was better than I had realized last year: he had 912 yards on 62 catches and can be expected to do nothing but improve, although his 52% catch rate tempers enthusiasm slightly. Kevin Curtis, a talented deep threat, will return after an injury-marred 2008 in which he played only nine games. He will be pushed by Jeremy Maclin, for whom the Eagles traded up to draft with the 20th pick. Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, and Reggie Brown are all adequate in the best sense of the word, (as distinguished from a throwaway compliment to prove my point that the Eagles have good receivers).

Tight End Brent Celek posted a 21.9% DVOA and a 71% catch percentage, emerging as significantly better than LJ Smith. Celek completes the picture of an offense without any real weaknesses if guys stay healthy.

Looking at the offense as a whole, it seems likely that both the running and passing games should improve. Even if the defense takes a step back, if the offense goes from “pretty good” to “very good,” this team can match its statistical awesomeness of last year. There’s always the small matter of converting a high DVOA into a high win total – something the Eagles have struggled with in recent years – but there’s no way around the fact that the Eagles should be a real contender.

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