Giants’ loss to Lions is more corroboration than confusing, and that’s OK

The New York Giants’ season is still well and good after Sunday’s 31-18 loss to the Detroit Lions, but there was definitely some truth uncovered in how that game played out. The Giants are 7-3, but they are not legitimate Super Bowl contenders — which is fine. Two things can be true about where the Giants are right now: This season has been a massive success under first-year head coach Brian Daboll, and this team is not as good as their record suggests.

That can be an uncomfortable truth to uncover as the season progresses, but it’s not a fact that Giants fans should be toiling over or arguing about for the rest of the season. This is the best year they’ve had since 2015, and it will likely lead to a playoff berth unless something goes drastically wrong over the back half of the season. That’s a reason for celebration for where the Giants have been — and Sunday’s game is a reminder that there’s still a lot of work to be done.

The Giants have been playing tightly contested games for essentially the entire season, learning how to win those games and get across the finish line. However, if the Giants want to be a team that can start to repeat these performances for years to come then it’s important to realize this is just the first step toward sustained dominance. Good teams slip up from time to time, but they usually don’t struggle to sustain offensive drives against what has been the worst defense in football throughout the season, like the Giants did against the Lions. This was a game where the lack of depth that the previous regimes built really reared its ugly head.

The Giants have been a pleasant surprise under first-year head coach Brian Daboll, but probably aren’t quite as good as their record. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Even though the Giants are 7-3 on the season, their advanced stats profile is not all that enticing, particularly on defense. According to Ben Baldwin of The Athletic, the Giants rank 22nd in expected points added per play on defense (0.043) and 17th in success rate (44.2%). Not bad for a team in their first year with a new coaching staff, but not really indicative of a team that’s prepared to go on a deep playoff run. To be fair, they are faring better on offense, ranking ninth in expected points added per play (0.055). Daboll has certainly put himself in the coach of the year race with how the season has unfolded to this point.

A sobering loss to the Lions doesn’t dilute what should be a great future for this Giants regime. Losing rookie second-round wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson to a torn ACL hurts, but they’ve received some quality play from other young players like Dexter Lawrence, Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal, Kayvon Thibodeaux and others.

This weekend should readjust the expectations of the fan base for the rest of the season, but their future is still exciting. They still have a great shot to make the playoffs in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year and that’s something worth getting excited about, even if they likely won’t be playing for a Super Bowl championship.