Giants quarterback Eli Manning passes against the Texans on Sept. 23, 2018, at NRG Stadium in Houston.

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Silverman: One Win Allows Giants' Season To Come into Focus

Steve Silverman
September 28, 2018 - 1:45 pm
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It’s funny what one win can do.

The New York Giants limped into Houston with an 0-2 record, with an old man at quarterback who didn’t look like he could get away from a seventh-grade pass rush, let alone prime-time NFL players.

The idea of facing J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Benardrick McKinney could have left the Giants in a full panic. Instead, Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula, along with offensive line coach Hal Hunter, figured out a way to keep Eli Manning upright.

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Well, sort of.

Eli was sacked four times for a loss of 32 yards against the Texans, but he was given enough time to have a brilliant game. The 37-year-old completed 25 of 29 passes for 297 yards with two touchdowns, and he did not throw an interception.

Never mind that the Texans are among the most disappointing teams in the league at 0-3. That’s largely because they have one of the worst coaches in the league in Bill O’Brien, who has shown that he is in over his head in each of his five seasons as head coach and needs to be replaced. The defensive personnel can be dominant, and the Giants got excellent production from Manning, Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr., and that’s a positive sign for the next few weeks.

If the Giants turned a corner from the negative to the positive with their win over the Texans, they should get a chance to thrive against the Saints this week.

This is one of those litmus test games that every team faces several times during the course of the season.

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The Giants and Saints have followed similar tracks in recent seasons. If you go back to the 2015 season, the Giants and Saints were among the two worst defensive teams in the NFL and were regularly incapable of coming up with stops on third-down plays or getting off the field.

The Giants grew sick of it, and they were a much-improved defense in 2016 as they made huge moves in free agency by signing three defensive free agents – including pass rusher Olivier Vernon -- while free safety Landon Collins came into his own.

The Giants were a playoff team in 2016, but they backtracked last year and ranked 31st in yards allowed per game.

The Saints had their defensive renaissance last year, and they ranked a middle-of-the-road 17th in yards allowed per game. Since they had Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas as their big three, they were able to ride that into the playoffs.

That defense has fallen on miserable times this year. They allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to torch them for four TD passes in Week 1 and Matt Ryan to throw 5 TD passes last week.  They barely got by the Browns in Week 2.

This is a team that is ripe for the taking, and while Brees & Co. look at the Giants and say the same thing, there may be no stopping Barkley and OBJ.

Momentum is needed at this point, because the Giants face a couple of major tests in the next few weeks against the Carolina Panthers and Super Bowl champion Eagles. If they can’t dominate against the Saints, what are they going to do against defenses that can actually punish opponents with hard hitting, speed and overall talent?

A victory like the one the Giants had last week against the Texans is like eye-wash for a bleary-eyed business traveler. Shurmur can now see things quite clearly, and the team’s capabilities are coming into focus.

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At their best, the Giants should be able to be explosive on offense and hold their own on defense. At their worst, the offense will be inconsistent and the defense will give up a bucket load of points.

There will be many tests throughout the season and the Giants are going to have to get quite a bit better if they are going to pass most of them.

However, they will pass the test this Sunday as Manning leads his team to 35 points, while the Saints are held to three touchdowns and a field goal.

We are fairly accomplished at basic arithmetic, so the Giants come away with a 35-24 triumph.

Follow Steve on Twitter at @Profootballboy​.