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3 questions for Giants down the stretch


At 6-2 heading into the bye week, the Giants' new regime has shown it has plenty of answers. But there are still questions that lay ahead.

Here we take a look at three key questions facing the Giants, who are off to their best eight-game start since 2012.

What's the formula for the second half?

The Giants have six wins, which is the same number of combined points they have outscored their opponents by this season. It's the razor-thin margin that defined the first half of the season. The Giants were the first team in NFL history to start 6-1 or better and have each of their first seven games decided by one possession, but they couldn't conjure that late-game magic in Seattle. A week after running for 130 yards and eight first downs in the fourth quarter in Jacksonville, they couldn't take their opponent out to deep water and leave them there.

That led to a common question in final media availability before the break: Is that style sustainable?

"I'd say most games come down in this league to one-score games – a lot of them, a high percentage of them," coach Brian Daboll said. "So, usually the teams you're playing are good. It's a back-and-forth game. A lot of games are won that way. Obviously, you're always looking to improve; those chunk plays help you in moving the ball and scoring points. We'll continue to look at that and figure out ways to try to improve that area. But again, most of these, it's not like you're used to coaching in some colleges, and it's over in the first quarter."

"Recipe or not, it's working," general manager Joe Schoen said. "I think, again, there's nine games left. There's things we know we can improve on. You can't coach effort. You can't coach toughness, and our guys have been tough. They've been competitive. They've been resilient. They're playing their butts off. They're preparing right. Some weeks, there's just going to be negative matchups. No matter where I've been, there's some games you play, you're like, 'That's their good against our not so good.' And it's going to happen. Or some weeks, you just don't have it. It's the NFL; there's a lot of parity in the league. And we've been able not to beat ourselves. We turned it over a couple of times in Seattle, but there's 11 minutes left in the game, it's 13-13. That's where we've been a lot this season. We've made more plays than the other team. So again, I'm really proud of where the guys are and the way they're playing and the way they're approaching their craft. Again, whether it's sustainable or not, I think we've got some good players here. I'm looking forward to the final nine games."

Can the Giants win in the division?

The Giants played just one NFC East opponent in the first half, a 23-16 loss to the Cowboys on Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium. They come out of the break with back-to-back home games against the Lions and Texans, who are combined 2-11-1, but then comes a stretch of crucial divisional games. They play at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, home vs. Washington and Philadelphia, and then at Washington – all in consecutive weeks.

The Eagles, whom the Giants play on the road in the regular-season finale, sit atop the league as the only remaining unbeaten team heading into Week 9. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are tied with the Giants at 6-2, and the Commanders have climbed back to .500 with three consecutive wins. The surest way to the postseason is by winning your divisional games, which the Giants have not done consistently since their last berth. They are 9-22 against the NFC East since the start of the 2017 season.

How do the rookies develop?

The challenge for every front office is finding the right balance between the present and future, especially in the first season of a new era. Under first-year general manager Joe Schoen, the Giants held two picks in the Top 10 for the first time in franchise history, using them on outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux and right tackle Evan Neal. The Giants' trajectory will be closely tied to how those two players develop this season and beyond. Meanwhile, the Giants have also seen significant contributions from wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, tight end Daniel Bellinger, offensive lineman Josh Ezeudu, safety Dane Belton, inside linebacker Micah McFadden, and outside linebacker Tomon Fox.

But the Giants won't play rookies just for the sake of it.

"I think we'll play the guys that we think earned it and then for that particular week gives us a chance that we think is best for our team," Daboll said. "That's what we've always done, and that's what we'll always do."

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