49ers playoff picture: Ranking potential Wild Card opponents
49ers Wild Card opponent No. 4: New York Giants
The Giants got off to an incredibly hot start to the 2022 season, winning six of their first seven games before losing to Seattle in Week 8 to head into their bye at 6-2. Since then, they’ve managed just two wins (one of which came over the lowly Houston Texans) and a tie, losing three out of four after the victory over Houston.
While they’re coming off a 20-12 win over the Commanders in Week 15, the G-Men sit at 8-5-1 with the Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, and Eagles left on their schedule and only one home game remaining, the middle of those fixtures against the Colts.
So, while 49ers’ fans may be rooting for them to knock off the Vikings and put the Niners in prime position to grab the No. 2 seed by beating the Commanders on Christmas Eve afternoon, when it comes to a potential playoff matchup, the Giants shouldn’t strike too much fear in the hearts of San Francisco.
Part of it is because it is difficult to say what it is exactly that they do well.
New York is mediocre on both sides of the ball no matter which lens you use to analyze the 2022 output. Raw stats tell us that the Giants are just 20th in the league in points scored, managing just 20.5 per game and that they have yet to score more than 27 in a single contest this year. On top of that, they’re only 22nd in total yards, including a putrid 28th in total passing yards.
Football Outsiders paints a slightly better picture, but not much of one. FO has them as the 14th-best offense in the NFL at 4.9 percent, including 11th in passing (19.7 percent) and 10th in rushing (0.4 percent). And while the passing number may seem somewhat impressive, it’s important to note that the Kansas City Chiefs, owners of the league’s best passing offense per DVOA, sit at 41.4 percent (the Niners are fourth at 31.5 percent).
If there’s a concern on offense, it’s the resurgence of running back Saquon Barkley, who is already at 1,170 yards through 14 games on 269 carries (4.3 yards per carry). But quarterback Daniel Jones is the Giants’ second-leading rusher with 583 yards, meaning the offense is very Saquon-centric, something the 49ers’ vaunted defense can key in on.
Defensively, the Giants don’t give up a ton of points (14th in the league with 22.3 points per game), but the yardage they’ve allowed puts them in the bottom tier of the league (5,142 or 26th).
Their DVOA is even less kind. The Giants are 29th overall (11.5 percent), 24th against the pass (12.6 percent), and 31st against the run (10.7 percent). In other words, the numbers suggest that while they may often be a bend-but-don’t-break type of defense, there is little reason to believe they’ll be able to stop the Niners in a road playoff matchup.
This combination of a mediocre offense and a bad defense leaves them here at the bottom of this list.