Far be it from me to discredit the Giants' four-game winning streak. If you win a month's worth of games in a league designed for total parity, you're doing something right -- the records and players involved stop mattering at some point.
In the interest of fairness and statistics -- and in preparation for this weekend's Cowboys-Giants tilt -- I decided to look into New York's streaky season. And in my opinion, you really don't have to look too far.
What's the most visible position in any football game? The quarterback. And man, I'm not sure if any team in the league has faced a greater disparity of quarterback talent than the Giants.
Since beginning their win streak on Oct. 21, the Giants have faced a quarterbacking foursome of Josh Freeman, Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor and Scott Tolzien. That's three guys who are no longer starting for their respective teams, and the latex, Tolzien, who is a stop-gap starter while one of the league's best signal-callers recovers from injury.
They're progress has gone about as expected. Three of the four did not crack 200 passing yards. Tolzien, who did reach 339 yards through the air, threw three picks and no touchdowns.
All told, the four aforementioned quarterbacks completed a combined 52 percent of their passes for 809 yards, no touchdowns and six interceptions against the Giants.
Those numbers aren't good -- not even close to good -- by any standard of football, let alone the NFL.
Of course, you have to credit the New York defense. The Giants have risen to No. 11 in the league in total defense. They have 14 team sacks, which is nearly triple their total from the start of Week 6 -- a paltry five.
You also have to acknowledge the competition, though. During their long losing streak, the Giants faced off against Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, Alex Smith, Nick Foles and Jay Cutler -- quite a departure from the slate they've faced of late.
Those six guys listed above combined to torch the Giants for 1,540 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. They completed 66 percent of their passes while doing so.
Five of those six quarterbacks are still starters for their respective teams, and Cutler will return to the starting lineup soon -- if not this weekend. Five of them are working for teams with winning records, and Romo has a chance to join that club with a win at MetLife Stadium.
Against quality NFL starters, the Giants' defense is allowing roughly 60 more passing yards per game, a 14-point improvement in completion percentage and a swing of plus-16 in turnover differential. [embedded_ad]
Am I saying any of this will result in a win for Dallas on Sunday? Not quite. The Cowboys' offense has been abysmal in recent weeks, as has been noted. Their defense also must figure out how many starters will be missing for the game, and how well they can replace those who are still injured.
But in a sense, we know what the Giants' offense is. They run the ball about as well as Dallas, which is to say not good -- the two are tied for the No. 28 ground game in the league. Eli Manning has the potential for a big day, as he showed in the teams' first meeting.
But he has hardly set the league on fire during New York's winning streak, with a passing high of 279 yards and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3:2.
We also know what the Cowboys' defense is -- a liability for big yardage with the potential to create big plays. Dallas has forced a turnover in nine of 10 games this year, and they've created multiple takeaways in six of those.
We don't know as well which Dallas offense will show up, and consequently which Giants defense. If Tony Romo leads the potent attack we've seen at times this year, it could be a long night for New York. If not, the Giants could add another sub-200-yard, touchdown-less skin to their wall.