The Giants will wrap up the regular season in Philadelphia with a matchup against the Eagles in Week 18.
Following last week's dominant win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Giants are locked into the No. 6 seed in the NFC. The win on New Year's Day saw the Giants put up a season-high 38 points, snapping a 43-game streak in which they were held to under 30 points. The defense also held the Colts to just 10 points, the lowest total the unit has allowed this season.
Brian Daboll became just the fifth coach in franchise history to lead the team to the playoffs in his debut season.
The Eagles entered Week 16 needing just one win in their final three contests to secure the No. 1 seed in the conference (along with the NFC East crown). However, back-to-back losses against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints has left Philadelphia needing a win in the regular season finale in order to receive the bye. The Eagles won the first meeting against the Giants in Week 14, 48-22.
Here are five storylines to follow in the regular season finale:
1. Final tune-up before postseason
Regardless of the outcome of this weekend's game, the Giants will head into the postseason with the No. 6 seed. As we are all aware of, this presents Brian Daboll and the rest of the coaching staff with an important question – do the starters play in Week 18, or would it be more beneficial to give them the week off to rest before postseason play begins? There are arguments to be made in support of both sides of this debate, one that most playoff teams have dealt with at one time or another. But as Daboll has consistently said throughout the season, they're going to make the decision that is in the best interest of the New York Giants.
"I'd say we'll talk about it and do what's best for the team," Daboll said at the beginning of the week. "So, it's early Monday. We'll go out there and try to have a good week of practice, prepare like we normally do and decide what we want to do relative to who's playing, who's not playing. Whatever we think is best for our team, that's what we'll end up doing."
2. Playoff picture heading into finale
The Giants are locked into the No. 6 seed, but which team they will play on Wild Card weekend is still up in the air. Depending on the outcomes of several Week 18 games, the Giants will either be traveling to San Francisco to take on the 49ers or to Minnesota for a rematch against the Vikings. The 49ers currently hold the No. 2 seed, meaning the Giants would go up against the Vikings if the standings do not change. If San Francisco defeats the Arizona Cardinals this weekend, the Giants are guaranteed a matchup against the Vikings.
Here is a snapshot at the possible matchups on Wild Card Weekend:
2022 record: 12-4 (8-1 at U.S. Bank Stadium)
Week 18 opponent: at CHI
Series record: 10-17 (2-1 postseason)
Last meeting: Dec. 24, 2022 (Giants lost, 27-24, at U.S. Bank Stadium)
Last postseason meeting: Jan. 14, 2001 (Giants won NFC Championship, 41-0)
San Francisco 49ers
2022 record: 12-4 (7-1 at Levi's Stadium)
Week 18 opponent: vs. ARI
Series record: 17-17 (4-4 postseason)
Last meeting: Sept. 27, 2020 (Giants lost, 36-9, at home)
Last postseason meeting: Jan. 22, 2012 (Giants won NFC Championship, 20-17, in OT at Candlestick Park)
3. McKinney's return; updates on Adoree'
The Giants received a boost in the secondary this past weekend as Xavier McKinney made his return to action. The third-year safety had been out since suffering a hand injury during the team's bye week, an injury that forced him to miss seven games. The Giants wasted no time getting him back in the mix as McKinney started at free safety alongside Julian Love. McKinney finished second on the team with seven total tackles (four solo) and a pass breakup
More reinforcements could be on the way for the secondary. Adoree' Jackson was a limited participant in practice each day last week before being listed as doubtful for the New Year's Day matchup against the Colts. The veteran cornerback has been out since injuring his knee on a punt return in Week 11, but he has a chance to return for the regular season finale after being limited in Wednesday's practice.
"Yeah, he'll do something," Daboll said about Jackson practicing Wednesday. "He'll do a little bit more than he did last week."
View photos from practice as the Giants get ready for their regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles.
4. DJ, Saquon wrapping up career years
A significant reason for the Giants' success this year is due to the strong performances from Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, who have each put up career-highs this season. Jones has set new career-highs with 3,205 passing yards, a 92.5 passer rating and a 67.2 completion percentage. In fact, if he is able to maintain his completion percentage, he will establish a new franchise single-season record, beating out Eli Manning's mark of 66.0 percent set in 2018.
Jones also leads the NFL with a 1.06 interception percentage this season with just five interceptions on 472 pass attempts. No Giants quarterback has ever thrown that many passes with so few interceptions. He has also started all 16 games this season and did not throw an interception in 12 of them, which is the highest number of starts without a pick in the NFL this season (no other QB has more than 10). His 708 rushing yards are a new personal best and franchise record for quarterbacks while setting up Jones to become just the fourth QB in NFL history with 3,200+ passing yards, a 65+ completion percentage and 700+ rushing yards.
Meanwhile, Barkley set a new personal mark after running for 58 yards on 12 carries (4.8 avg.) last week, bringing his season total to 1,312 rushing yards. Barkley has also caught 57 passes for 338 yards, with his 1,650 total yards from scrimmage the most since his breakout rookie campaign. He also earned the second Pro Bowl selection of his career, as he moved ahead of Ahmad Bradshaw (4,232 years) into sixth place on the Giants' all-time rushing list with 4,249.
The two team captains entered the NFL just one year apart and have developed together over the past four seasons. Their individual growth this year in particular has helped complement each other and has led to their respective strong campaigns.
"The first thing, I think, they really appreciate one another – the type of teammate that each person is," Daboll said about Jones and Barkley. "I'd say they both work extremely hard. They've been here for some time. I think they've had probably some ups and downs. And they're pretty close, so I think that helps.
"In the running game, if you are choosing to use a quarterback on runs, that's a pretty important chemistry that you have with one another between the two of them with the ball handling and the decision-making and the reads. And then in the passing game, those guys have worked hard together to make sure they're on the same page. But both of those guys, I think, respect one another's responsibilities. I think they're good captains for us. And I think they work well together."
5. Receivers rising to the occasion
Due to injuries and various circumstances, the Giants have gotten big contributions from some unlikely sources at the wide receiver position. The top of the depth chart looks a lot different today than it did on opening day. Heading into Week 18, Richie James is tied with Barkley with a team-high 57 receptions. He has scored four touchdowns on the year, all in the last seven games, after totaling just three touchdowns over his first three NFL seasons.
"He deserves a lot of credit," Jones said about James after Sunday's win. "He's played great all year. Early on and really, I think he's been consistent throughout the whole year. Stepped up and made a ton of plays for us. He's a really good football player, knows where to be, knows how to get open, knows feel for spaces and uncovering in zones and can beat man-to-man coverage. He's played great for us. His work ethic, his demeanor every day – if you'd see that, you wouldn't be surprised by it. He's a really good football player."
James' four receiving touchdowns are tied for the most on the team with Isaiah Hodgins, who signed with the Giants on Nov. 2 and has seen his role gradually increase. All of Hodgins' four touchdowns have come over the past five weeks, an impressive feat especially considering he came to the Giants without any scores. He has totaled 33 receptions for 351 yards and four TDs in just eight games with the Giants.
Darius Slayton still leads the team with 724 receiving yards (27 shy of his career-best 751 in 2020). Slayton has topped 700 receiving yards in three of his four seasons. After entering Week 5 with just one reception for 11 yards, the soon-to-be 26-year-old has collected 46 receptions for the 724 yards and two touchdowns. He is just four receptions shy of matching his career high of 50 (2020) 20, while his 15.7 yards per reception is the best of his young career.