In a year like no other, the Giants have made it to their bye week.
They enter the break having won their last two games – and three of the past five – after starting the season with five consecutive losses. Needless to say, there have been many twists and turns to the season, both within and without their control.
To assess it all, we take a look at the biggest surprise, the biggest thing we learned, and the biggest story line post-bye week.
Biggest surprise: The NFC East race
To call it a race might be an overstatement, but the Giants nevertheless are in the thick of it. Entering Week 10, no NFC East team has more than three wins as it remains the only division with all four clubs below .500. With that said, nothing should be a surprise in a division that rarely sticks to the book. It has not had a repeat champion since the Eagles, who are trying to defend the title, won four in a row from 2001-2004. So, Joe Judge will use that to motive his players when they return Monday and prepare for their next game against the Bengals, right?
"No," he said. "The importance needs to be improving as a team. All that other stuff will take care of itself. Cincinnati is a good team. We have to get ready and go ahead and improve ourselves internally. Turn the page and move on to Cincinnati and get ready for a tough game out there. We have a tough stretch of games coming up. We can't go ahead and start looking at rankings and division races and all that type of stuff. We just have to focus on getting better each week. That's what will ultimately help us in the long run."
View the best photos from the first 10 games of the Giants' 2020 campaign as the team enters its Week 11 bye.
Biggest takeaway: The giveaways
What isn't surprising about the state of the NFC East is how it got there. Dallas has the worst turnover differential in the NFL at minus-13, and Philadelphia and Washington are tied for third-worst at minus-7. The Giants have climbed back to even after not turning the ball over the past two weeks and forcing five turnovers during that span. Only Pittsburgh (17), Tampa Bay (17), and Buffalo (16) have more takeaways than the Giants (15).
"I think that certainly gives us a better chance to win games," quarterback Daniel Jones, who threw nine interceptions and lost four fumbles in the first eight games. "It's something I've been focusing on. I think we did a great job executing and [offensive coordinator Jason] Garrett called a great game and it's up to me to understand where to take risks and where not to. I think it certainly feels good not to turn the ball over and got to keep building on it, keep going, and that definitely helps our chances to win."
Biggest storyline: The build
At his introductory press conference on Jan. 9, Judge said, "You don't build the Empire State Building by washing the windows; you build it with the foundation and work it on up." He has also said repeatedly there is no "magic wand" to get the franchise back on track, a painstaking process that is starting to yield results. He will try his best to but blinders on his team and focus on the incremental improvements for the rest of the year – and the rest of his tenure.
"You talk about our team and one word I use all the time is resilient," Judge said. "When I think about people in this area, blue-collar people who work hard every day. It's obviously a very competitive area to be in. That's what you have to be up here. We want our guys to be successful on the field, but it matters to us how we're successful. We want to play with the right attitude. We want to play a tough brand of football. We want to run the ball, stop the run, cover kicks. We want to go out there and be able to play in tough elements and be successful.
"We're not going to be a team that makes excuses or comes back an says 'we had them, but this happened instead.' That's not the way we're made up; that's not what we're going to do. I think we're getting closer to putting a product on the field that hopefully people can see themselves in. That people are proud to put on those blue caps or t-shirts on Mondays and go to work and celebrate that they root for the Giants. That's something that's important to us here. We want this team to be about the area. Not just about the guys in the building."
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