The New York Giants (2-6) have received good and bad news over the last few days that pose pressing questions regarding the remaining nine games of their 2023 season.
Can The Giants Upset the Odds and Sneak into the Playoffs Come Seasons End?
New York Post reporter Ryan Dunleavy examined several variables that will impact the Giants’ ability to close out the year on a high note or vie for a favorable pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, saying this about their playoff chances:
“On one hand, the Giants are two games out of the playoffs with nine to play. On the other, they sit No. 13 in a 16-team conference once tiebreakers are factored in. The Giants play just three games against teams with winning records — Eagles twice and Cowboys — the rest of the way.”
As it stands, the Giants have a realistic shot at overtaking the four teams ahead of them for the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC. The Green Bay Packers (2-5), Washington Commanders (3-5), Los Angeles Rams (3-5), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) are all within two games of the Giants.
Daniel Jones is expected to return to action in their next outing against the Las Vegas Raiders. He will take the field alongside RB Saquon Barkley for the first time since Week 2. Though a small sample size, the Giants were 1-1 last time both were active. Returns from several key offensive linemen will give the Giants an even better chance at winning just enough games to secure that final spot.
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Does Matt Barkley’s Experience Give Him Backup QB Edge over Tommy DeVito
Dunleavy also posed a question regarding backup quarterback duties behind Jones. Tyrod Taylor’s week-to-week status following a scary rib injury leaves the door open for rookie Tommy DeVito and newly acquired QB Matt Barkley to win the favor of Giants head coach Brian Daboll.
DeVito did not make a good impression when his number was called for the injured Taylor in Week 8 against the New York Jets. His negative passing yards clouded the rushing touchdown he was able to get in their 13-10 loss.
On the other hand, Matt Barkley has not played an NFL snap since 2020. The last time he took the field, Barkley appeared in five games and completed 11 of 21 passes for 197 passing yards along with a 1-1 TD-INT ratio. He’s started a total of seven games in his career, going 2-5 in that span with a 59.9 completion percentage, 10 TDs, and eight INTs.
How Will Leonard Williams’ Absence Affect Dexter Lawrence?
One other prevalent question was whether or not Dexter Lawrence could maintain his high level of play without the presence of Leonard Williams on the D-Line. Lawrence has played with Williams in each of his five seasons as a pro with the Giants.
Back in 2020, Lawrence told the media that he spent his high school days watching Williams play in college and grew a deep level of respect for his teammate and ‘the kind of energy he brings to the D-Line room.’ It’s safe to assume the camaraderie they built on the field and the support Williams offered him in the pass rush made Lawrence’s job easier.
More pressure will likely be put on Lawrence to dominate offensive linemen and put pressure on quarterbacks without Williams around. Lawrence has 29 total tackles, 14 QB hits and three sacks. The Giants will need more of the same from him to finish the year strong.