Yes, this has occurred in the past. But this time, it’s obviously different.
Instead of already being eliminated, the Giants have clinched a playoff spot thanks to last week’s blowout win over the Colts. The Giants are locked into the NFC’s 6-seed, so they cannot move down or up in the playoff standings.
With starters playing only a little or potentially not at all against Philly, let’s look ahead to the postseason, which begins one week from Saturday. Here’s what the Giants need to do before the postseason begins.
Get the secondary healthier. Safety Xavier McKinney (hand) is back after missing seven games. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (knee), on the other hand, is trending in the right direction. Jackson has missed six straight games but was limited in practice this week.
The Giants’ defensive backfield is currently allowing 214.4 passing yards per game (15th in the NFL) but would benefit from getting healthier. With the Vikings and star wideout Justin Jefferson potentially on deck in the Wild Card Round, McKinney progressing and Jackson returning would do wonders for Big Blue.
The pass rush, too. Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari has undergone an injury-plagued sophomore campaign and is currently dealing with an ankle injury. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams has also been banged up for much of the year and has a neck ailment. The Giants need these two guys to get healthy.
Rookie outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux and defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence are having great seasons, with the latter having been selected to his first Pro Bowl. But the more firepower, the more success. Especially within a pass rush that must face productive quarterbacks and offenses in January.
Demonstrate consistent receiver play. So you know how the Giants had various question marks at the receiver position throughout the year? Well…they still do, even with Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins seemingly coming into their own the last few weeks.
Those pair of receivers have played well, but must stay consistent and on the same page with quarterback Daniel Jones if this team wants to make some noise in the NFC Playoffs.
Let Saquon Barkley get some rest. If there’s an offensive starter who shouldn’t play in Sunday’s Week 18 matchup with the Eagles, it should be running back Saquon Barkley.
Given he’s the Giants’ most talented offensive weapon, the organization needs Barkley refreshed for the Wild Card round so he can be a significant component of the offensive gameplan. Or else, the Giants’ offense might not function as properly in any postseason matchup.
Daniel Jones plays a half (and stays smart). If the Giants want to play their starting quarterback in a meaningless Week 18 game, they should. But only for a half.
Treat this game like it’s the dress rehearsal preseason game. Have Jones play a half, don’t call any designed runs for him, and let backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor take over the rest of the way.
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