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Why the Giants care about winning their final two games of the season

Sterling Shepard #87 of the New York Giants

Sterling Shepard #87 of the New York Giants celebrates after catching a pass on the 1-yard line in the during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on Dec 15, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Mike Stobe

Sunday’s much-needed win was a way to honor Eli Manning for all he brought to the Giants for 16 seasons. But Manning won’t be around next year to collect on any possible repercussions that the victory over the Dolphins might carry forth. In fact, chances are a lot of folks won’t be with the team when the 2020 season begins. So with two games left in this disappointing season, the Giants are looking for more wins to propel them forward.

Sunday’s win was an ode to the past. Now the Giants want one with which to toast their future.

That’s why, in the postgame locker room on Sunday, wide receiver Sterling Shepard (who, when his fifth season begins next year, may very well wind up being the longest-tenured Giants player on the roster) was encouraging his teammates to remember the sensations that the victory brought.

“We want to keep having these feelings and carry this over into next season,” Shepard said. “It feels so good to get a 'W', especially after that long stretch. I think everybody needed it and we were able to do it.”

The last two certainly are winnable games, at Washington and then home for the Eagles (who may need a win to clinch the NFC East that day). And there are plenty who will question whether the Giants should even be trying to win these games. Losing this Sunday would further solidify them with the second overall pick in April’s draft and keep them in the running for first overall. For many, that’s more important than the shelf life that meaningless victories in December will have by the time next September rolls around.

The Giants never have shown any such predisposition. In fact, they were in a somewhat similar position just two years ago with interim coach Steve Spagnuolo finishing up the slate. They beat Washington in the finale to snap a five-game losing streak and imperil their draft status. It wound up not mattering as the Colts won as well, giving the Giants the second overall pick they used to land Saquon Barkley. But it was clear then that they valued the victory in the game more than any draft-day benefit from a loss.

This year, while some of the infrastructure such as coach and general manager are on shaky ground, wins could be even more important. Young players who had been flailing through the past two-and-a-half months of winless football could use some positive reinforcement. They can use the confidence boost that comes from winning.

That’s especially true with Daniel Jones. The rookie quarterback will be taking the lead for the team this offseason. It may be more difficult to do that having not won a start since Sept. 29.

“I think it’s important for not only Daniel if he gets back in there but for the whole team,” Pat Shurmur said of wins these next two weeks. “Young players, if they’re good players, they can improve and it can bleed into next season as long as they have a great offseason...If the players that have played on the team this season recognize that what we did this year wasn’t good enough, and that if you believe in hard work and preparation, then it should be motivation to work hard in the offseason and prepare for next year.”

Engram goes on IR. Evan Engram’s last game was on Nov. 4, but his season ended on Tuesday when the Giants placed the third-year tight end on injured reserve. Engram suffered a sprained foot in that Week 9 game against the Cowboys and thought he could come back two weeks later, but was never able to overcome the injury. In three years with the Giants, Engram has played in 34 games and by the end of this season will have missed 14 with various injuries. The Giants promoted WR David Sills from the practice squad to take his place on the 53-man roster.

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