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Mailbag: Offseason outlook for Giants in 2021


Only one question this week since it will be a rather long and complex answer.

William in Massachusetts: If the Giants did not lose Saquon Barkley or Daniel Jones, there would have been high playoff hopes. They did not lose many games by a large margin or am I way out of base with hope for the future? The defense is tough, so their chances could be good, no?

John Schmeelk: Saquon Barkley's injury undoubtedly had a huge impact on the team's final record, but one can't be sure how much Jones' injury factors in, given the Giants beat the Seahawks in one of the games Jones missed. Here are some metrics to see whether the Giants were significantly better or worse than their actual record.

The Giants finished 6-10 with a -77 point differential. Football Outsiders tracks how many wins a team should have based on their points/scored allowed. They call it Pythagorean wins based off the same calculation Bill James put together for Major League Baseball. They projected the Giants at 5.7 wins based on their points scored and allowed.

The Giants finished even in turnover ratio, which was near the middle of the league. They were tied for 10th in the league with 22 takeaways and had the 20th-fewest giveaways with 22. Nothing swings games more than takeaways, and there was no luck in this area that swung their record in either direction.

In games decided by eight or fewer points (one score games), the Giants were 5-5. Most teams over long stretches will normalize to a .500 record in games that go down to the final possession. The Giants' performance here did not move their performance in a meaningful way.

The Giants finished the season going 5-3 after starting the season 1-7, which indicates they played better football in the second half of the season. They also, however, lost three of their aost four games, which means this assumption needs a deeper look.

The teams the Giants lost to had a record of 87-72-1, while the teams they beat had a record of 40-54-2. Only one team the Giants beat had a .500 record or better (Seattle), while only three teams they lost to were below .500 (Dallas, Philadelphia, San Francisco). Generally speaking, they beat the teams they should have beaten and lost to the teams who should have beaten them. Opponents matter more than most people want to admit. Giants opponents had a .502 winning percentage this season, which was in the middle of the league. Their schedule was not particularly weak or strong.

In Giants' wins this season, they were +8 in turnover ratio and -8 in their losses. This number should surprise no one and shows that the Giants were very dependent on this factor to determine the outcome. It should be noted that the Giants turned over the ball only seven times in their final eight games after give it away 15 times in their first eight. This was a big key to their second-half surge.

In terms of points scored and allowed, the Giants scored 145 and allowed 199 points in the first half of the season, which equates to a -54 point differential. In the second half of the season, they scored 135 points and allowed 158, a -23 point differential. They played better in the second half, but it is difficult to see how much of that point differential can be attributed to the turnover difference.


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