Football Scientist: Looking on the bright side

September, 21, 2010
9/21/10
8:03
AM ET
The prevalent feeling among Giants fans right now seems to be a bit of doom and gloom. The running game isn't strong, the pass defense looked awful against the Colts and both the offensive and defensive lines have frequently been outplayed.

As bad as things have been for the Giants, things look just as bad, if not worse, for each of their NFC East rivals.

Let's start with Dallas. Their numerous woes have been well documented, but their situation is even worse when one considers the road they will have to travel in order to win this division. Assuming a 10-6 record will be necessary to claim that title, the Boys will need to go 10-4 against a schedule that has road trips at Houston, Minnesota, Green Bay, New York, Indianapolis and Philadelphia. The home games aren't that much easier, either, as Dallas will host Tennessee, New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Washington among others. A 7-4 mark there would be pretty good and anything short of that plus going unbeaten in their other three contests (against Jacksonville, Detroit and Arizona) would make them a Wild Card contender at best.

Washington has plenty of problems of its own as well. Houston threw eighteen vertical passes at them on Sunday (vertical being defined as 11 or more yards downfield) and completed eleven of them for a whopping 254 yards. That equates to a 14.1 vertical yards per attempt average, or something that is along the lines of what the Lions defense would put up. There is every reason to believe that a healthy Giants receiving corps could do just as much damage to the Skins on downfield routes.

Last but not least, Andy Reid may say he is in a good situation with two quarterbacks who can win ballgames for him, but he's actually in a situation that he hasn't had to face before. For the past decade, Reid has been blessed with the services of Donovan McNabb and his superb decision making (he came into this year with the third lowest interception percentage in NFL history). Mike Vick and Kevin Kolb don't fit that bill, as both have fared quite badly in my bad decision metric, a tape-based stat that tracks how often a quarterback makes a mistake with the ball that leads either to a turnover or a near turnover (e.g. dropped interception, etc.).

Vick, for example, had five errors of this nature this past Sunday against a Detroit team that has been one of the worst at forcing quarterback mistakes over the past couple of seasons. Kolb has fared even worse than Vick in that metric on a percentage-wise basis, so even if he is healthy, he might not solve this problem.

So what does all of this mean for the Giants? It means they should have enough time to work through their issues and set themselves up for a run at the divisional crown.

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