EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have won three straight games against three losing teams. It's an accomplishment if only because a month or so ago they were an opponent that losing teams knew they could beat -- a role they had held for the better part of the past four seasons.
Now comes the hard part. The Giants (4-7) play four straight games against teams that currently have a winning record, beginning Sunday when they travel across the country to face the 8-3 Seattle Seahawks (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox).
It's an opportunity to prove the progress they have made is legit.
"I think when you want to compete, you want to compete against the best," Giants coach Joe Judge said. "We're going to get an opportunity this week to go against one of the best teams in the league."
The Giants are in first place in the NFC East without a victory against a winning team on their résumé. Their seven losses have come against teams with a .526 winning percentage, while the four wins are against teams with a combined .302 winning percentage. With the sorry state of the division, beating winning teams is not a prerequisite at the moment.
But at some point it will be. The Giants have one game remaining -- Week 17 at home vs. Dallas -- against a losing team. Otherwise it's Seattle, the Arizona Cardinals (6-5), Cleveland Browns (8-3) and Baltimore Ravens (6-5). They need to win at least one of those games, and they will almost certainly be the underdog in all four, to have any chance to win the division and secure a postseason spot.
Of the Giants' remaining games, the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) gives them the slimmest chance (14%) to win this week in Seattle. The matchup against a high-powered offense -- potentially without their starting quarterback, Daniel Jones -- makes it a difficult test.
The next week at MetLife Stadium, FPI has New York with a 29% chance to pull the upset against the Cardinals. But it's the following week against the Browns that seems to afford the Giants the best opportunity. FPI has them projected as close to a coin flip (44%) to squeak out a victory at home against Cleveland before a tough one in Baltimore (21%).
The first half of the season is when the Giants dropped all three games they have played against teams that currently have a winning record, and the naked eye says they are an infinitely better team than they were then.
The question is whether they have improved enough to beat contenders. Not that they are going to apologize for being in first place in a down division or for beating bad teams.
"I don't care if a team is 0-12, I'm trying to win. I don't care what their record is," Giants safety Logan Ryan said. "Winning is a mentality, and obviously we didn't start the year hot. That's OK. I believe that years of losing can bring a type of culture, a type of onus over a team. We dug ourselves out of that hole. We're not front-runners, we started off in the back of the pack and now we're in the middle of the pack.
"It's our job to finish strong. ... I don't know what their records are, line them up, we have to play them, this is not the team from the beginning, this is not the team that played Pittsburgh in Week 1. You know that. Watch the film. Hopefully we have a winning record one day, but I'm taking it one game at a time."
So this stretch is the Giants' chance to show the top half of the league they deserve to be playing in the postseason.
Though they don't seem to be looking for that validation.
"To be honest, I don't think we care too much about the outside opinion," Giants middle linebacker Blake Martinez said. "For us in general, we want to go out there and show our own improvement and show ourselves that we can go and finish those types of games. Kind of going back to earlier in the season, we ... could have won multiple games early on. We want to show that we're that winning type of team and go finish those, like I said, that November and December football."
Proving it this December, with the winning teams lined up, would be quite an accomplishment. Even more impressive than the three straight wins they bring to Seattle on Sunday.