The 2023 NFL Playoffs have begun.
To the surprise of many the New York Giants with a 9-7-1 record have made the playoffs for the first time since 2017, and the infamous boat trip picture that seemingly put a hex on the franchise.
The Giants surprising season is a culmination ultimately of great coaching from first year head coach Brian Daboll, the reemergence of star running back Saquan Barkley, and the solid play of starting quarterback Daniel Jones.
Brian Daboll became head coach of the Giants after spending the previous year as offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. In his last game as coordinator for the Bills, Daboll would lose a heartbreaker to the Kansas City Chiefs 36-42, which some consider to be the greatest game of all-time.
Most expectations for the Giants were low, seeing this season as another rebuilding season.
The very first game of the season set the tone for the Giants the rest of the year. The Giants won their first game of the season on the road 21-20 over the Tennessee Titans. With the score 19-20, instead of kicking the game tying extra point, Daboll chose to go for the 2 point conversion, as Jones hit Barkley with a shuffle pass that ultimately led to the Giants 1 point victory. The Giants would start out the season 6-1, before ending the season 9-7-1.
Barkley played 16 games rushing for 1,312 yards, scoring 10 touchdowns, while adding 57 receptions for 76 yards. Barkley’s season this year helped remind people why he may be considered one of the top players in the NFL today.
Saquan suffered the dreaded torn ACL injury in 2020 that ended his season prematurely. He has had his fair share of injuries throughout his young career, such as ankle sprains and hamstring injuries.
With the Giants having clinched a playoff spot, they opted to rest Barkley and the rest of the starters for Week 18. Had Saquan had played, he would have played the full 17 games, which is remarkable considering Jones looks to Barkley a majority of the time to carry the offense.
Jones was drafted 6th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. At the time, many fans wanted other quarterbacks to be drafted to replace the soon to be ending career of Eli Manning.
While Jones has had his moments of spectacular plays, his play could be considered inconsistent at best. This has led to speculation if he would be the Giants long term franchise quarterback, perhaps looking at other quarterbacks down the line, such as Arch Manning, Peyton Manning & Eli Manning’s nephew.
That may have changed this year as Daniel Jones threw for 3,205 yards, threw 15 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, rushed for 708 yards, and ran 7 touchdowns on the year. Considering the offense was depleted with an injury to wide receiver Sterling Shephard, trading Kadarius Toney and the lack of production from Kenny Golladay, it is very impressive how Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones were able to have this level of offensive production.
The Giants enter the playoffs as the 6th seed and go on the road to play the 3rd seed Minnesota Vikings.
This is a rematch of an earlier Week 16 game where the Vikings won 27-24 on a last second 61 yard field goal by Greg Joseph. While many do not expect the Giants to have a deep playoff run, there are some factors that could break in the Giants favor.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has a tendency to lose in big games.
The Giants have not appeared in the postseason much the last decade.
But ever since 2008, when the Giants are in the postseason they have gone on runs that led to winning the Super Bowl in 2008 and 2012.