Victories by two first-place teams yesterday helped give the Giants some breathing room in their quest to earn their first playoff spot since 2011.
Losses by Washington and Minnesota, two teams that are chasing the Giants in the NFC wild-card standings, created some separation. Washington slipped to 6-4-1 and Minnesota fell to 6-5. The Giants are 7-3, and assuming they beat the 0-11 Browns on Sunday, they will have two more wins than their next two closest competitors. Tampa Bay and Philadelphia have five wins each.
Of course, Washington’s loss was Dallas’ gain. The Cowboys won their 10th straight and own a 2 1⁄2-game lead over the Giants in the NFC East. The Giants and Cowboys will meet on Dec. 11.
Hurting at guard
After being limited in Wednesday’s practice, guard Justin Pugh (knee) was a non-participant in yesterday’s workout. A decision on his availability for Sunday’s game in Cleveland seems unlikely to be made until after tomorrow morning’s practice just before the team’s departure.
The injuries at right guard go well beyond Pugh. His two primary backups, Brett Jones (calf) and Marshall Newhouse (knee), did not practice for a second straight day.
The fourth option, Adam Gettis, was limited on Thursday with a calf injury. If none of them can play, the Giants might have to shuffle their line to move Bobby Hart to guard and insert Will Beatty at tackle, or keep Hart at right tackle and play with Shane McDermott at guard. McDermott wasn’t even on the team’s practice squad until last week.
Two of the Browns’ top players are dealing with injuries. Pro Bowl LT Joe Thomas (knee) did not practice for a second straight day and CB Joe Haden (groin) was limited on Thursday after being a full participant on Wednesday. . . DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) did not practice for the Giants for a second straight day. WR Roger Lewis Jr. (concussion) was a non-contact participant.