Daniel Jones
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The Giants have improved to 7-2 on the season with a 24-16 victory over the Texans. It was a huge win coming out of the bye — the Giants lost to the Seahawks prior to the off week and needed to take advantage of an inferior opponent in Houston.

Behind strong defense and a consistent running game (like what the Giants’ identity has been for much of the year), New York came away with a victory and improved its NFC Wild Card playoff chances.

While the Giants are just a game and a half back of the 8-0 Eagles, winning the NFC East is still a pipedream. The Giants will likely need defeat the Cowboys, Vikings, and Eagles (one of two times) to clinch their first division title since 2011.

So that leaves us with the NFC Wild Card race, which the Giants now comfortably reside in.

At 7-2, the Giants own the best record in the NFC Wild Card (the Cowboys are 6-2 while the 49ers are 4-4). The 4-5 Commanders are sitting just outside the NFC Wild Card picture and would not make the postseason if the season ended today. Right now, the Giants sit 3.0 games up on Washington with eight weeks remaining in the regular season.

Yes, that’s a great spot for a Brian Daboll-led team that had virtually no expectations entering the season. But it makes next week’s matchup incredibly important for Big Blue.

The Giants needed to win their Week 10 and 11 games before enduring a tough part of the schedule that includes the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Philly twice, and Minnesota on the road. They got the job done Sunday, and now the Lions come to town next week.

Daboll and crew must keep stacking victories now — it might be the only way they can stay afloat as the postseason approaches.

But until that Week 11 matchup at MetLife Stadium, let’s discuss some thoughts on this victory over Houston.

Golladay is cooked. Okay, it’s over. Veteran wide receiver Kenny Golladay had a chance to produce Sunday in his first game back since Week 4, after a disastrous first year and a half in East Rutherford.

And on Sunday, he was his usual Giants self: absolutely unreliable and a shell of what he was in Detroit.

Golladay dropped two passes on the day, including a wide-open one in the second quarter on a ball that would’ve likely gotten the Giants a first down had he reeled it in.

The $72 million man finished the day with zero catches, continuing a dreadful year that’s seen him catch two balls for 22 yards through five games. Brutal.

The Giants don’t have much of a choice though. They’re paying him $18 million per year thanks to former GM Dave Gettleman’s gross financial mismanagement, Kadarius Toney is now in Kansas City, and Sterling Shepard (torn ACL) is out for the year. And good luck getting much out of Marcus Johnson, David Sills (healthy scratch against Houston), and Richie James.

Brian Daboll must try to get at least something out of Golladay, but an offseason release is basically inevitable.

Slayton is not. We’ve said for weeks the Giants need to feature Darius Slayton in the offense, given they didn’t have much of a choice there either (due to the inefficiencies of the wide receiver room).

On Sunday, the fourth-year receiver made the big play this Giants offense has needed.  On a 3rd-and-9 play on the second half’s opening possession, Jones was hit as he threw and Slayton bobbled the pass but reeled it in. He proceeded to break a tackle and sprit down the left sideline for a 54-yard touchdown.

It was Slayton’s second touchdown reception in three games —  you can start to feel that Jones-Slayton connection from 2019 truly resurrecting itself.

Secondary answers call. Starting safety and defensive captain Xavier McKinney is on the non-football injury list and didn’t play Sunday. We all know why: he injured his hand in a Cabo ATV accident during the bye week.

There were concerns how the Giants’ secondary, without arguably its best player, would fare even against a weak Texans passing attack. But luckily, the unit answered the call.

The Giants only allowed 286 passing yards on the day. Texans quarterback Davis Mills wasn’t great, finishing with 319 yards (although 48 of them were during a late garbage-time drive, one touchdown, and one interception on 22-of-37 passing. Safety Dane Belton, who started in place of McKinney, recorded his first-career pick.

Although it wasn’t nearly the best passing offense the Giants will face the rest of the way, this was a good start for a defensive backfield that needs to field young pieces to compensate for the huge void left by McKinney.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.