In the wake of the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs, the Giants can be counted among the lucky losers whose trajectory is up. That’s in direct contrast to their NFC East rivals the Cowboys, who, despite losing by 24 fewer points to the 49ers than the Giants did to the Eagles, are in crisis mode — and with some justification.
Super Bowl contenders, after all, shouldn’t score just 12 points in elimination playoff games. Super Bowl-contending quarterbacks are supposed to do better than 23-of-37, 206 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in such situations. And the coaches of Super Bowl-contending teams are supposed to have a better plan with the game on the line than Ezekiel Elliott grabbing the ball and getting immediately destroyed by an oncoming defensive tackle.
Everything the Cowboys did against the 49ers.
Not that the Giants were much better against the Eagles. But anything that happened after the playoff run was beneficial for an organization that had been in Rock Bottom’s long-stay hotel for the past 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, most notably about the futures of quarterback Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, both of whom require new contracts, but this season has been about creating a foundation to build on, and in that, the Giants have overachieved. from anyone’s dreams.
Schoen sounded mostly positive about Jones on Monday, telling reporters: “We’re happy that Daniel is going to be here. Hopefully we can do something with his representatives. That would be the goal to build the team around him where he could lead us to win the Super Bowl.”
The outlook for Barkley, for whom the franchise tag seems an unlikely option, was not so sunny. “We have to operate with a salary cap,” Schoen said. “We’d love to get Saquon back, if he makes it.”
Not to downplay the importance of those decisions — Jones’ contract, in particular, will create the kind of expectations he’s been free of this season — but compared to their opponents, the Giants have it easy.
As is the 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, asked if the 19-12 loss in which Mike McCarthy looked overwhelmed by the clock will affect McCarthy’s status.
If that counts as confirmation that McCarthy will be back next season, then look at where the Cowboys are at coach and quarterback — the two spots on the field that matter most — compared to the Giants.
Would you rather have Dak Prescott under contract through at least the end of next season with a cap hit of $49 million, with the option to keep him through 2024 at even more, or Jones, whose market is expected to be even lower than that and then great season? Would you rather have McCarthy, who nobody has a clue about as a creative offensive mind, or Daboll, who created a culture in his first year?
Prescott, who had two interceptions against the Niners and led the league with 15 picks this season, appears to be regressing. Jones, who went out and led the Giants to their first playoff win since 2011, is on the rise.
Daboll can win the coach of the year award. McCarthy may be coaching for his job next season.
The Cowboys are paying Ezekiel Elliott, their second-best running back, an average of $15 million a year with a cap hit of $16.7 million in 2023. Barkley won’t come cheap, but he said Sunday he doesn’t expect to bring the running back back purchase.
The Cowboys finished ahead of the Giants in the standings, as they have every year since 2015, and went 2-0 in the rivalry.
But which team would you rather be in 2023?
Right now, it seems like an easy choice.
Today’s back page
🏈 O’CONNOR: Giants can’t afford to let Saquon Barkley slip away now
🏀 The Knicks’ struggles could evolve with the daunting schedule approaching
🏒 The Rangers finally manage to get a good win over the Panthers
Who will get Hall’s call?
The next Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced on Tuesday afternoon. It’s unclear whether anyone will garner 75 percent of the votes needed for induction: Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and former Mets closer Billy Wagner are tracking close to the mark on publicly disclosed ballots. Carlos Beltran, a former Met and Yankee whose candidacy has been complicated by his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, and controversial former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez are also under consideration. Here’s how The Post’s baseball writers voted:
Game delay on neutral NFL sites
Regardless of your preference for rooting for Sunday’s Bills-Bengals game, the NFL avoiding a neutral-site conference title game that would have doubled as a test to make such cases permanent is an undeniably good thing. There’s a reason college football is slowly moving away from playing playoff games at neutral sites: They’re worse.
A sterile, corporate atmosphere aimed at fans who can afford to spend on flights and hotels, and possibly time off work, isn’t quite the same as playing at home. It may enrich the interested parties, but that’s about it. Season ticket holders are relegated to second fiddle. So do families and kids who can have an unforgettable outing at a playoff game. So do local businesses near stadiums that make money from playoff games. So are players who have earned a No. 1 seed but suddenly don’t have the home field advantage.
Even if the NFL was supposed to make more money from a neutral site game, would individual teams — particularly those playing in cold weather regions — get more? Why would the Chiefs, Bengals or Eagles, three of the teams playing Sunday, vote to neuter their own potential home-field advantage in favor of a system that will never see Kansas City, Cincinnati or Philadelphia host a game?
This isn’t even a good idea as a cash grab.
In the USMNT camp, it’s all about who isn’t there
The United States men’s national team returns for the first time since its World Cup exit against the Netherlands with two friendlies this week: against Serbia on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET, HBO Max) and against Colombia on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT). Since matches are not in a set international window and professional clubs are not required to release players for national team matches, the roster has been severely degraded.
That makes this USA roster a developmental one, although Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, Jesus Ferreira, Kellyn Acosta and Sean Johnson will be on it from the World Cup squad. There are a few other exciting names, striker Alejandro Zendejas, defender Julian Gressel and forward Matthew Hoppe chief among them, but all oxygen is being depleted by the fallout from the Gio Reyna-Gregg Berhalter feud.
Berhalter will not be a coach at this camp. He is out of contract and the U.S. Soccer Federation is investigating a domestic violence incident in 1991 in which he allegedly kicked his future wife, Rosalind, outside a bar. This was revealed by Reyna’s parents, who were upset about their son’s lack of playing time at the World Cup and Berhalter’s subsequent viewing of the team’s internal discussions about whether to send Reyna home. Assistant manager Anthony Hudson will coach both games and Reina — who scored a stunning winner for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga this weekend — is with his team.
Still, it will be interesting to see what the players — particularly those who participated in the World Cup — have to say about both the controversy and whether they want to see Berhalter back. For Hudson, a chance to run camp and coach two games could also amount to an audition if Burhalter is ultimately not offered a new contract.