The New York Giants have a big decision to make this upcoming weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 18.
Philadelphia’s looking to put away Big Blue in hopes of retaining the No. 1 seed, as the Dallas Cowboys are right behind them. If the Eagles lose, Dallas will earn a playoff BYE to open things up, but with the return of Jalen Hurts from injury, they want to retain that extra week of rest and not risk an early playoff exit.
However, the New York Giants are in a different position, maintaining the 6th seed whether they win or lose. Resting some of their marquee players makes logical sense, but three in specific stand out that could use the additional rehab.
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Three players the New York Giants should rest in Week 18:
1.) Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley looks like his normal self after a few seasons of injury-riddled play. The 25-year-old running back has accrued 1,650 total yards from scrimmage this year, earning a Pro Bowl for the second time in his career. He’s tallied 1,312 rushing yards, beating his previous record of 1,307. He’s also managed 10 rushing touchdowns across 16 games, but he’s been dealing with a neck injury that has bothered him lately. That is not even to mention the shoulder injury that has held him back at times, so giving him an extra week of rest could go a long way toward seeing a better version of Barkley in the playoffs.
2.) Leonard Williams
Star defensive lineman Leonard Williams recently indicated that he was fighting through a neck injury that would likely carry into the playoffs. He will need the off-season to recover fully, but sitting him against the Eagles would provide Leo with an extra week to rehabilitate and hopefully enter the postseason with extra juice and a bit less pain.
There is no reason for the Giants to walk out Williams injured in a meaningless game, so I fully expect him to get the day off and prepare for a much more impactful contest in the Wild Card.
3.) Azeez Ojulari
Second-year pass rusher Azeez Ojulari has dealt with a number of injuries this season, including a most recent ankle issue he sustained against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 16. Ojulari ended up leaving the game prematurely but was active against the Indianapolis Colts but barely played, given the Giants dominated.
Giving Ojulari another week to let the swelling subside is ideal. His impact when healthy is irreplaceable, and the Giants will need him desperately against the Minnesota Vikings or San Francisco 49ers. Head coach Brian Daboll saw what happens when Kirk Cousins is put under pressure, so Azeez will be an essential puzzle piece to their game plan, making his health that much more important.