The 2019 season begins in around nine months. The Giants are getting ready for it now.
They’re not overtly looking that far ahead. They still have Sunday’s game against the Redskins in Washington in front of their faces and another three games on the 2018 regular-season schedule in the coming weeks. And they still have that gossamer chance at the playoffs. But in a way, these games (and the last few, too) are essentially very early preseason contests for next year.
“A lot of these same guys are going to be with us, hopefully most of them,” Pat Shurmur said this week, catching a quick peek ahead to next season. “There’s a lot to be learned about battling through adversity at the end of the season and fighting to win games. I think you create a memory bank of stuff that helps you moving forward.”
One important element to that is to win in the division. The Giants have lost nine of their last 10 NFC East games and and haven't won one this season. Winning on Sunday — even if it comes against a depleated Washington roster that is down to its third-string quarterback in Mark Sanchez — would at least give the Giants the knowledge that they can compete with and beat the teams they’ll be vying with year after year.
This Giants season was most likely doomed by the 1-7 start. But by finishing the schedule strong, and with three wins in the last four games they have a chance to do that, the Giants can give themselves a proper trajectory heading toward 2019.
“We’re building a house,” Shurmur said, “and I think everything’s connected. We took over a 3-13 operation. We need to learn how to win again.”
If they do that now, that’s one less thing to try to learn next season.
A slim chance for playoffs
The Giants will take the field in Washington on Sunday still hanging on to a sliver of postseason hope. Some calculations have their chances at less than one percent. If they want to maintain that possibility, they need to win. If they do that, they’ll live to contend another day.
A loss to the Redskins will end it all. That would drop the Giants’ record to 4-9 and eliminate them from any playoff contention.
Even if the Giants win, though, their chances could be significantly reduced. A win by the Cowboys at home against the Eagles later in the afternoon would eliminate the Giants from the NFC East race. They would still cling to a shot at an NFC wild card berth. Head-to-head losses against the Falcons and Panthers who are also vying for that backdoor into the playoffs would make that path virtually but not mathematically impossible.
The most likely of all the least-likely ways in for the Giants remains winning the division title. So the best-case scenario for the Giants on Sunday is to win and watch the Eagles win too. That would leave the Giants two games out of the first-place tie between the Eagles and Cowboys with three games remaining.
It’s been a rough season for the offensive line when it comes to allowing sacks. Through 12 games they have already given up 41 of them, more than Eli Manning has ever had in a full season in his career. Their worst performance in that regard this year? The seven they allowed to the Redskins in Week 8 about a month and a half ago.
The Giants, though, think they are a far different unit that the one that played Washington the last time. They’ve made just one personnel move in their starting lineup — Jamon Brown was claimed off waivers and inserted at right guard — but they have decidedly improved. In the past four games they have allowed 2.75 sacks per game; in the first eight games (including Washington) they were allowing 3.75 per.
“It was a tough day against them,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said, “but I think we’re better, for sure.”
Eli's loss record
Eli Manning could soon tie Brett Favre — possibly on Sunday — on an all-time list that no one wants to be part of. The next loss Manning takes as a starting quarterback will be the 112th of his career, which would tie him with Favre for the second-most in NFL history. That speaks to longevity, of course. The big difference between Favre and Manning is in their wins. Favre’s career record is 186-112. Manning’s current record is 115-111.
The record for most all-time losses could be within Manning’s reach if he plays beyond this season… and with a mediocre to bad team. Vinny Testaverde holds the mark for most career losses as a starting quarterback, having gone 90-123-1 in his 21-year career.
Who says it’s a passing league? Well, just about everybody. But the Giants seem to be bucking the trend of the importance of throwing the ball. Not only are the Giants 3-0 in games this season when they have fewer than 200 net passing yards, they are 0-3 in games when they hold the opposition to fewer than 200.
1: Point needed by Alrick Rosas for him to become the first Giants player to score 100 points in a year since kicker Josh Brown did it with 134 in 2015. The Giants placekicker scored at least 100 points in every season from 2005-15. The Giants record for most points in a season is 148, set by Jay Feely in 2005.
99: Regular-season wins by the Giants against the Redskins. A victory will make the Giants the first NFL franchise with 100 regular-season wins over another franchise.
4: Interceptions by Alec Ogletree this season. He is the first Giants linebacker with four or more in a season since Vince Costello in 1967.