How good are the 2009 Giants? Are they the best team in their conference? Let’s answer the second question first.
Pending the outcome of tonight’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the 3-0 Minnesota Vikings, the Giants and the New Orleans Saints are the only 4-0 teams in the conference. The Giants have outscored four opponents — Washington, Dallas, Tampa Bay, and, yesterday, Kansas City — by a total of 43 points. The Saints have outscored four opponents — Detroit, Philadelphia, Buffalo and yesterday, the Jets — by a total of 78 points.
The Giants, while impressive, have yet to be tested. The combined won-lost records of their opponents is 4-8 (not counting their games against the Giants). The Saints’ opponents are a collective 7-4. The Giants’ first real trial comes in two weeks on October 18, when they play the Saints at New Orleans. (Next week they play the hapless 1-3 Oakland Raiders at the Meadowlands.) So, until further review the Saints have to be regarded as the best team in the NFC.
But while the Giants’ fast start is promising, let’s not expect too much too soon. At this time last year they were also 4-0 and had beaten their opponents by a margin of 78 points. In fact, during 2008 season the Giants were, by most yardsticks, the best team in the league before losing to the Eagles in Week 14. After that, they were never the same team, losing three of their last four games and losing again to the Eagles in the playoffs.
We have a hunch that the four weeks beginning with the Saints (in New Orleans) followed by the Cardinals (at the Meadowlands), the Eagles (at Philadelphia), then San Diego (back at the Meadowlands) will define their season.