The seduction started two weeks ago on the West Coast.
That’s when hope started to seep into the Giants’ locker room following a 27-23 comeback road win over the 49ers.
Hope then moved its way East, stimulated by last week’s 38-35 home win over the Buccaneers.
On Sunday, it arrives in Philadelphia, where the 3-7 Giants play the 4-6 Eagles in what can best be described as a declaration day of sorts for them, validation for the past two victories.
Yes, the rest of the NFC East seems determined to keep the Giants — who three weeks ago were 1-7 — in some semblance of contention, with a Giants win over the Eagles moving them within a mere two games of the division lead with five remaining games.
And yes, the Giants are riding their first two-game winning streak since December 2016.
But the wins came against a 49ers team that’s 2-8 and without its franchise quarterback and a Buccaneers team that’s 3-7 and cannot figure out who its starting quarterback is from one week to the next.
No one, not even the most cynical of the haters, can take those wins away from the Giants.
But the fact is this: Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, the level of competition elevates considerably. Sure, the Eagles are struggling, fresh off a 48-7 loss in New Orleans, their third loss in the past four games.
But they’re still the defending Super Bowl champions. They still have Carson Wentz at quarterback. And they’re a hell of a lot better than the 49ers and Bucs.
The most pressing question facing the Giants as they play the Eagles is whether these past two weeks are a true indication they found a better formula during the bye week or whether those wins over the 49ers and Bucs were a mere mirage against a couple of the league’s weaklings.
“To keep it real, we only won the [49ers] game by four points and [the Bucs game] by three points,’’ Odell Beckham Jr. said Friday. “Some of the losses we had were by three points and four points, so it’s just finding ways [to win].’’
When the Giants were 1-7 and hopeless, Beckham spoke of winning the final eight games. So it’s two down and six to go.
“I don’t care who beat who [on Thursday]; if we don’t handle our business, none of it matters,’’ Beckham said Friday. “We need the Cowboys, the Redskins and the Eagles to lose all their games for the rest of the season and we need to win all of ours for the rest of the season.
“But at the end of the day, if we don’t handle our business, it doesn’t matter what anybody else is doing.Our focus is us and beating the Eagles this week.’’
After the Eagles, the Giants play the Bears, who are 8-3 and own one of the best defenses in the league. Also on their remaining schedule are the 5-5 Titans, who also have one of the top defenses, and the 5-5 Colts, who have won their past four games.
“We know if we go out there and handle our business we’ve got a chance,’’ defensive lineman Kareem Martin told The Post on Friday. “In life and in football all you can ask for is a chance.’’
Receiver Sterling Shepard told The Post the positive feeling inside the locker room the last two weeks has been palpable.
“That’s what the team needed — a little bit of momentum,’’ Shepard said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going. This would be a big win for us. The things that we changed after the [bye] have been working for us these last two weeks. If it works again this week, then we definitely have the formula. … We’re on a two-game winning streak, and that’s something that hasn’t happened around here for a while. so I feel like we have a good thing going.’’
Both Martin and linebacker Alec Ogletree said they believe the Giants are a better team than the one that lost to the Eagles 34-13 on Oct. 11 at MetLife Stadium.
Ogletree: “We’re scoring points, getting turnovers and executing on special teams really well. When you do that, you have a shot at beating a team like Philly and a lot of other teams. We’re definitely building something. It’s a good feeling.’’
Martin: “There’s a lot of confidence going around coming off two wins. Confidence is riding high in here. It’s always good to know that you have a chance.’’
So you’re saying there’s a chance …
Three weeks ago, all appeared lost for the Giants. Now they carry hope with them to Philadelphia.
But, as Giants coach Pat Shurmur said Friday, “Certainly, hope is not a strategy.’’
Original article: https://nypost.com/2018/11/24/now-it-gets-real-for-the-giants/