Jabrill Peppers punctuated Sunday’s win over Washington with a series of backflips across the field. After losing five straight games to open the season and finally securing that first victory, the Giants safety could not contain his elation.
He would not have been wrong to perform a few more celebratory acrobatics on Monday night.
That was when the Cowboys lost to the Cardinals, a decision that dropped them to 2-4 and felt like a huge win for every other team in the division. The Cowboys are still in first place in the NFC East, but just one game ahead of the rest of the pack in the win column. With two of those teams meeting on Thursday night – the Giants and the Eagles – one of them is almost certainly going to join Dallas with an unimpressive two wins on the season but a share of first place if the Cowboys, who are all of a sudden swirling with internal turmoil amid reports that players are dissatisfied with the coaching, lose to Washington.
The division is in shambles, but it is also wide open to the point that even the lowly Giants, winless until just a few days ago, are in the middle of the action. A win on Thursday would push them further into contention.
"Being in the thick of things, that’s just the way the league is," Peppers said. "Everybody can be beat on any given Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, however we’re doing it now this year. You just need to take care of your business. Don’t leave your fate in anybody else’s hands and take care of what you need to take care of."
In this case, that is beating the 1-4-1 Eagles.
When the Giants take the field in Philadelphia on Thursday Night, it will have been 1,489 days since they last held a share of first place in the division. That was when they were 2-0 heading into Week 3 of the 2016 season, one that eventually ended with a wild-card playoff berth and the team’s only postseason appearance in the past eight years.
Since that season they have lost all of their games to the Eagles and Cowboys, so it is no wonder they have not been able to push to the top of the standings. There are no players on the roster who have ever beaten the Eagles in a Giants uniform.
No big deal, said defensive back Logan Ryan.
"That has no significance to this one," he said of the history. "Streaks all come to an end. I remember when I first got to Tennessee there was not one good streak ever. We’d lost like this many to Indy and had never beat Andrew Luck and never beat this team… and then we were in the AFC Championship. So I don’t care. It’s going to come down to me and Carson Wentz and the Giants and the Eagles and everyone else out there playing this game. Salute to Brian Dawkins and [Michael] Strahan and all these guys, but they’re not going to help us out there on Thursday night. We have to go out there and execute and do what Joe Judge asks us to do."
To this point, Judge’s instructions have been to not worry about those titillating standings. As cognizant as the Giants are of the impact this game will have on them, they insist they are following his lead in ignoring any big picture implications.
"All these divisional games are big, and I think guys understand that," Daniel Jones said. "Guys have an awareness as to where the division is and the standings. But we’re focused on this week. We’re focused on this game and it being a big divisional game. It’s important for that reason. Guys are locked into that and excited to get out there."
Ryan was also quick to point out that it is a long season, and while a win on Thursday will be a boon to the victor a loss will not eliminate anyone.
"Look, we’re going to play these guys again," he said. "We’re going to play Washington again and Dallas. I wouldn’t put all of the chips on the line yet."
Still, this is a chance to make a statement.
"We have to go out here to win some games in our division to put us in position to strike at the end of the year," Ryan said.
"Our division is winnable."