Through the first six weeks of the 2013 NFL season, the New York Giants appeared to be headed for a last-place finish and a high draft pick. As they enter their Week 10 contest with the Oakland Raiders, the team still has a glimmer of hope to clinch a postseason berth.
Before New York’s bye in Week Nine, they won two straight games. The short winning streak has the Giants 2.5 games behind the 5-4 Dallas Cowboys. The NFC East has been the worst division in football, and New York can get right back in the thick of the race with a few more wins.
"All we can worry about is getting back to playing well and get on a hot streak and start winning games," Eli Manning said. "It's all about us. We can only control what we can do. It might happen some weeks that a team might lose for us. They all might win. They all might lose. If we are winning, we'll keep in distance and give ourselves a shot."
The Giants are currently in the softest part of their schedule. After beating the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles, they host the Raiders on Sunday, followed by a game with the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers. If they can win both games, which they will likely be favored to do, and the Cowboys lose to the New Orleans Saints, the matchup between New York and Dallas in Week 12 could have a share of first place on the line.
The New York defense, which was one of the NFL’s worst during their losing streak, is the biggest reason that team has any hope of reaching the postseason. In their two wins, they’ve held both opposing offenses scoreless. The Giants haven't allowed a touchdown since the second quarter of Week Six. Before that game, New York had given up at least 31 points to every team they faced.
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“I think the difference is the coaches and players being on the same page,” Antrel Rolle told WFAN. “After being 0-6, the coaches and players got together and we pretty much had a players-to-coaches talk, a heartfelt talk. And it was something that was very well needed and very well taken amongst the players and the coaches, which is something that is extremely important.”
The Giants haven't exactly faced offensive juggernauts in the past few weeks. They defeated Matt Barkley and Josh Freeman, neither of whom will be starting at quarterback this week. However, the Giants are set to face another anemic offense. Only three teams, including the Giants, average fewer points per game than the Raiders. Even in their wins, the Raiders have struggled to score points, with 27 being their season-high. In five of their eight games, they’ve been held to 20 points or less.
Terrelle Pryor, who was expected to back up Matt Flynn in the preseason, played surprisingly well at the start of the year. However, he’s regressed, failing to register a passer rating higher than 55.7 in his last three games. The quarterback sprained his knee at the end of Oakland’s 49-20 loss to the Eagles, but he’s been practicing and will be ready to go.
Pryor lost one of his top playmakers when Darren McFadden got injured against Philadelphia. While Oakland’s No.1 running back could be forced to sit after missing practice this week, the Giants are expected to get back Andre Brown. Victor Cruz is uncertain for Sunday with a neck injury.
Las Vegas Betting Odds: New York favored by 7 points
Over-Under: 43.5 points
Kickoff Time: 1:00 PM Eastern Time
TV Channel: CBS
Online Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket Max
Prediction: New York 17, Oakland 13