In a relatively meaningless game against the Cowboys Sunday at Met Life, the Giants still have something to prove.
It is about putting the finishing touch on a 4-3 second half of the season that saw the team strengthen its stance on some fronts.
It is about getting a win to close out a rather inadequate 6-10 season, one that was arguably expected to be more. The Giants expect a win, and mostly everyone else does, too.
In fact, the Giants are as much as a 6 ½ -point favorite in some circles against a 9-6 team that has clinched an opening-round bye in the playoffs.
There is a prevailing feeling in the air that the Giants can pull the missing pieces together to make a playoff run in 2019.
Saquon Barkley hadn’t had a breakout game in a few weeks and then had a season-low 28 yards in the first meeting between the two teams in September.
Despite likely pulling most of their starters after halftime, the Cowboys will bring a defense that has been the trademark of their resurgence this season. They also would like to gain bring their continued momentum back home for the playoffs next weekend, having their lone blemish a 23-0 shutout to the Colts in the past seven weeks.
Dallas is ranked fourth in the NFL in points allowed (19.3 a game), sixth in opposing yards per game (321.8), fifth in average rushing yards (91.3) and second in yards-per-carry (3.7).
So, life won’t be that easy for Barkley.
Barkley is 114 scrimmage yards shy of becoming only the third rookie to break the 2,000-yard mark in that category, and he is only two receptions away from tying the rookie running back reception record of 88.
“I think it’s important to win this game because it’s the next game on our schedule,” Barkley said. “That’s the way you got to look at it. You got one more game. You don’t know how this team is going to look next year, the way the offseason and the NFL works. This is the last chance that we have together as a team in 2018. So why not go out there together and compete together, and try to end this season off right with a win?”
Eli Manning basically has assured himself of being the starter in 2019, and he could possibly rework his deal to free some necessary cap space.
Manning will enter the Dallas game with his highest completion percentage of his 15-year career (66.5) and just shy of the 4,000-yard mark (3,998) and second-lowest interception total (10).
Odell Beckham Jr. will miss his fourth straight game, and Manning can further entrench his relationship with Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and the rest of the corps.
Beckham pledged his allegiance to Manning this week, and it will be interesting to see how Beckham’s offseason develops.
The Giants’ once porous offensive line has reduced its sack total to 15 in the second half after a cavernous 31 in the first eight games. Guard Jamon Brown has helped solidify the front and he will be a free agent after the season. The development of rookie Will Hernandez and the improvement of left tackle Nate Solder also fortified the front.
However, the real overhaul will be on defense where the Giants need a pass rusher and also need to take a look at the entire front.
Safety Michael Thomas and cornerback B.W. Webb apparently have secured their spots for next season. Safety Landon Collins will need to improve his pass coverage.
A win over Dallas may not have any ramifications next July, but it will another boost toward an important offseason.
Watch and enjoy the final game and possibly victory of an insubstantial season.
Be patient. The missing pieces for 2019 will be filled.