In the wake of the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, the Giants can be counted among the lucky losers whose trajectory is upward. This is in direct contrast to their NFC East rival, the Cowboys, who, despite losing 24 fewer points to the 49ers than the Giants to the Eagles, are in crisis mode — and with some justification.
Super Bowl contenders, after all, aren’t supposed to score just 12 points in playoff games. Super Bowl contending quarterbacks are expected to do better than 23 of 37, 206 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on such occasions. And the coaches of the Super Bowl contending teams are supposed to have a better plan with the game on the line than Ezekiel Elliott slamming the ball down and getting quickly destroyed by an oncoming defensive tackle.
Everything the Cowboys did against the 49ers.
Not that the Giants were much better against the Eagles. But whatever happened after they made the playoffs was gravy for an organization that had been at the Rock Bottom long-term hotel for six years.
The Giants held a press conference Monday afternoon, and general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll shared a mostly positive outlook for the future of the franchise. There are lingering questions, primarily over the future of quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley, both of whom require new contracts, but this season was all about creating a foundation to build on, and in that, the Giants have succeeded beyond anyone’s dreams.
Schoen sounded pretty positive about Jones on Monday, telling reporters, “We’re glad Daniel is here. I hope we will do something with its representatives. That would be the goal, to build the team around him where he could lead us to winning the Super Bowl.
The outlook for Barkley, for whom the franchise tag seems an unlikely option, was not so bright. “We have to operate under a salary cap,” Schoen said. “We would like Saquon to come back, if it works out.”
Not to downplay the importance of those decisions — Jones’ contract, in particular, will create the kind of expectations he was free from this season — but compared to their rivals, the Giants have it easy.
As is annual tradition, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones addressed reporters after his team’s crushing playoff loss, including a question about his head coach’s future.
“No, no, no, not at all,” Jones said, asking if the 19-12 loss in which Mike McCarthy looked out of time would impact McCarthy’s status.
If that counts as confirmation that McCarthy will be back next season, then look at where the Cowboys stand as a coach and a quarterback — the two spots on the court that matter most — compared to the Giants.
Would you rather have Dak Prescott under contract until at least the end of next season at a cap of $49 million, with potential to retain him for 2024 at an even higher number, or Jones, whose market should be less than that even after a good season? Would you rather have McCarthy, nobody has the idea of a creative attacking mind, or Daboll, who engineered a cultural turnaround in his freshman year?
Prescott, who threw two grueling interceptions against the Niners and led the league with 15 picks this season, appears to be regressing. Jones, who came out and led the Giants to their first playoff win since 2011, is on the rise.
Daboll could win the Coach of the Year award. McCarthy could coach for his job next season.
The Cowboys pay Ezekiel Elliott, their second-best running back, an average of $15 million a year with a cap of $16.7 million hit in 2023. Barkley won’t come cheap, but he said Sunday that ‘he didn’t expect to reset the reverse run.
The Cowboys finished ahead of the Giants in the standings, like every year since 2015, and went 2-0 in the rivalry.
But which team do you prefer to be in 2023?
Right now, that seems like an easy choice.
Today’s last page
🏈 O’CONNOR: Giants can’t afford to let Saquon Barkley off the hook now
🏀 Knicks’ struggles could sour with daunting schedule looming
🏒 Rangers ultimately messed up to dump the win over the Panthers
Who will receive the Hall call?
On Tuesday night, the next Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced. It’s unclear if anyone will get the 75% vote needed for induction: Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and former Mets insider Billy Wagner are closing in on the threshold in publicly revealed ballots. Carlos Beltran, a former Met and Yankee whose candidacy is complicated by his involvement in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, and controversial former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez are also to be considered. Here’s how The Post’s baseball editors voted:
Game Delay at NFL Neutral Sites
Regardless of your rooting preference in Sunday’s Bills-Bengals game, the NFL avoiding a neutral-site conference title game that would have doubled as a test to make such opportunities permanent is an unequivocal good. There’s a reason college football is slowly moving away from holding its playoff games at neutral venues: They’re worse.
A sterilized corporate atmosphere that caters to fans who can afford to spend money on flights and hotels, as well as potentially time off, just isn’t the same as playing on the pitches. home. It might enrich interested parties, but that’s about it. Seasonal subscribers are relegated to second place. The same goes for families and children who can make a memorable outing at a playoff game. The same goes for local businesses near stadiums that make money from playoff games. The same goes for players who have earned a No. 1 seed, but suddenly don’t benefit from the home court.
Even if the NFL was supposed to make more money with a neutral-site game, would individual teams — especially those playing in cold regions — get more? Why would the Chiefs, Bengals or Eagles, three of the teams playing Sunday, vote to neutralize their own potential on-field advantages in favor of a system that will never see Kansas City, Cincinnati or Philadelphia host a game?
It’s not even a good idea as a cash grab.
At USMNT Camp, It’s About Who Ain’t There
The United States Men’s National Team is back for the first time since exiting the World Cup against the Netherlands with two friendlies this week: against Serbia on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET, HBO Max) and against Colombia Saturday (7:30 p.m.). ET, TNT). Since matches are not held in a designated international window and professional clubs are not obliged to release players for national team matches, the list is heavily watered down.
This makes this USA roster a development roster, although Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, Jesus Ferreira, Kellyn Acosta and Sean Johnson will be part of the World Cup squad there. There are other exciting names, striker Alejandro Zendejas, defender Julian Gressel and chief striker Matthew Hoppe among them, but all the oxygen is being used by the fallout from the Gio Reyna-Gregg Berhalter controversy.
Berhalter will not be coaching at this camp. He is out of contract, and the U.S. Soccer Federation is investigating a 1991 domestic violence incident in which he allegedly kicked his future wife, Rosalind, outside a bar. This was brought to light by Reyna’s parents, who were unhappy with their son’s lack of playing time at the World Cup and Berhalter’s subsequent broadcast of the team’s internal deliberations over whether to send Reyna back to the house. Assistant coach Anthony Hudson will coach both matches, and Reyna – who scored a stunning winner for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga at the weekend – is with her club.
Still, it will be interesting to see what players – especially those who were at the World Cup – say about both the controversy and whether they want to see Berhalter again. For Hudson, a chance to set up camp and coach two games could also amount to an audition if Berhalter isn’t ultimately offered a new contract.