Which version of the Giants is going to show up?
Will the New York Giants head into the bye at 2-5, and feeling like they have a pulse in the fight for a playoff spot even though history is stacked against them? Or, will they be 1-6 and knowing that the final nine games they play will be basically meaningless?
That, of course, depends what happens Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Here are five things to watch in that contest.
Can the Giants continue to run it?
The Giants have run the ball 57 times for an even 300 yards the past two weeks, 5.3 yards per attempt.
“We really don’t have a choice but to run the ball,” said offensive lineman D.J. Fluker. “But we’ve done a great job with just maintaining – I mean, we have guys that we can pass the ball to, but we want to focus on the run, get that done. And when we have to pass it, we’re going to pass it, but we don’t want the guys to be like, ‘Oh, we’re the New York Giants, we’re just going to pass the ball.’ We don’t want to be that team, we want to be the guy on the team that’s going, ‘We’re going to bring it to you, first two plays, the third down happens, but we’re going to bring it to you because we’re going to wear you down.’ That’s our goal.”
With the recent success of the run game and the dearth of experienced receivers on the outside, defense are likely to begin packing the box and making life more difficult for Orleans Darkwa and Co.
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Can they figure out how to throw it?
The Giants threw the ball only 19 times last week, completing 11 for a modest 128 yards. Roger Lewis Jr. and Tavarres King each had just one catch. The possible return to the lineup of Sterling Shepard will help. Even if Shepard doesn’t play, though, the Giants are going to have to make defenses respect someone other than Evan Engram in the passing game.
Seattle has Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in the secondary so that is not going to be easy to accomplish on Sunday.
Which Giants’ defense will show up?
Through five weeks, the Giants’ defense played more like the 2015 unit that was pretty much incapable of stopping anyone than the dominant group the Giants had last season. A week ago, the 2016 version of the defense showed up. For the first time all season the Giants held a team to less than 100 yards rushing, allowing the Denver Broncos only 46.
“They came with the right attitude, I’ll tell you that,” said defensive coordiantor Steve Spagnuolo. “They were determined to stop the run and that doesn’t always mean you’re going to stop it because the team you’re playing has something to say about that, too. But I think we were all encouraged by that. Hopefully, we’ll continue.”
The Giants need it to. With the limits of their offense they will have to rely on the defense to keep games to modest scores.
The DRC effect
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is back on the roster. Does that mean he goes right back into the lineup, playing mostly in the slot? Probably. If and when he needs to take a few snaps off, as always seems to happen, will the Giants turn to Ross Cockrell or the diminutive Donte Deayon. In his first NFL action last week, Deayon appeared to hold up pretty well. He is a more natural slot corner than Cockrell.
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Who answers the bell
The Giants have a bye following Sunday’s game. They have a pretty lengthy list of injured players entering the game. It will be interesting to see which of the banged-up Giants play and which sit the game out and use the extra rest provided by the bye week to get healthy for the final nine games.