The Giants reinforce draft status with loss to the Eagles

When the 2017 NFL schedule was released last April, an initial analysis by many pundits conjectured the Giants’ Week 15 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles could have crucial implications in determining the winner of the NFC East Division.

Conversely, eight months later, when the Giants hosted the Eagles at MetLife Stadium this past Sunday, the game had little relevance on the division standings. The Eagles were comfortably ahead of their rivals, whereas the Giants held the second worst record in football. The outcome, a 34-29 win by the 12-2 Eagles, clinched the NFC East title and first-round playoff bye for the former, whereas the latter dropped to 2-12, the third worst record in the league, and improved their chances of securing one the top three spots in this April’s draft.

“We were 2-11 coming into this game,” said Giants rookie tight end Evan Engram after his team’s hard-fought effort fell short of victory. “A lot of people wouldn’t have battled like we did today. It’s not what we want in a season, but we fight every Sunday and today was one of those Sundays.”

Juxtaposing the Giants’ and Eagles’ records, it was inconceivable when the season began they would be dramatically inverted in late December. Both were expected to be contenders to win the division and make it to the postseason. Furthermore, the Giants were viewed by a plethora of close followers of the NFL as a strong Super Bowl candidate.

Now, despite the Eagles losing their starting quarterback Carson Wentz, a rising star in only his second year in the league, to a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee Dec. 10 against the Los Angeles Rams, they are still optimistic regarding their prospects of making it to Super Bowl LII (52) Feb. 4 in Minneapolis. On the other hand, the Giants are a team in complete transition, finishing out the season with an interim coach and general manager and an uncertain future for their longtime starting quarterback Eli Manning.

A telling symbol of the Giants’ unforeseen and startling regression from 11-5 and a wild-card spot a season ago to the near bottom of the league today is that Tuesday, safety Landon Collins was selected as their only representative to the Pro Bowl. Last season, the 23-year-old Collins, who was drafted in 2015 by the Giants in the second-round out of Alabama, was joined by wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., cornerback Janoris Jenkins and special teamer Dwayne Harris.

“It’s definitely a mixed feeling, because I want all my guys to succeed, as a team and as a whole,” Collins said of making his second Pro Bowl. “We all want to succeed and by me just doing it, it’s a good feeling, but at the same time a bad feeling, because I want everybody to be happy, not just myself.”

With two-games remaining, including this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals on the road, there has been few pleasing moments for the Giants in a season filled with disappointment and discontent.