Three Games to Watch During the Giants' Bye
Talk about lousy timing.
The Giants are finally on a modest winning streak, having won their last two in a row and three of their previous five, but instead of getting to see that continue, the bye week is here.
But seriously, the bye isn't a bad thing, not if you consider that it gives everyone (well, almost everyone as your friendly correspondent has kept on plugging away on content for the site and the LockedOn Giants podcast) a chance to rest and recharge.
The Giants, who since 2011 are 5-4 coming out of the bye, will be back on Monday getting ready to keep the winning streak alive and continue their march to the NFC East title.
And speaking of the NFC East title, given how poor the division is, that is the only way for any of the four participants--Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, and the Washington Football Team--to earn a seat at the postseason table.
As such, let's take a look at the only three games this weekend that matter most for the Giants and their playoff chances. Hint: You'll want to root for any team that isn't in the NFC East.
(Here are the Week 11 broadcast maps to help you determine what games you'll get in your area.)
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5-1) at Cleveland Browns (6-3)
The Eagles were sent into a tailspin by the Giants, who beat them soundly last week, leaving the Eagles to cling to first place in the division.
If that wasn't bad enough, just when the Eagles looked like they were getting healthy, the COVID-19 virus came along.
Those included wide receivers J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and John Hightower, running back Corey Clement, and defensive end Vinny Curry, all of whom were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list where they join safety Marcus Epps, and wide receiver Deontay Burnett who landed on the Practice Squad COVID-19 list.
The Eagles will have left guard Isaac Seumalo back in the lineup, so they have that going for them.
The Browns? They found out Friday that their top pass rusher, defensive end Myles Garrett, tested positive for COVID-19, so he won't play.
Meanwhile, on offense, they have a reasonably fresh Nick Chubb, who came through his first game back from a knee injury with no issues, and Kareen Hunt, a duo that is mainly instrumental in the Browns having the third-best rushing offense in the league.
That's not good news for an Eagles run defense that's ranked 26th against the run.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-6-1) at Washington Football Team (2-7)
If the Football Team is to have any chance of keeping this one close, the key will be their pass rush.
WFT's 30 sacks this year puts them fifth in the league, but that's a deceiving number for the simple reason that 19 of those sacks have come in three games against division opponents.
Meanwhile, Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has, predictably, struggled when under duress.
In 141 dropbacks, Burrow has been sacked 31 times, and he's gone 37 of 97 for 412 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for a 49.8 passer rating when under pressure.
For the Bengals, whose 32 sacks allowed this season are third-most in the NFL, both sides of their offensive line have been leaky. That's not good news for a unit that will have Chase Young and Montez Sweat looking to lead the way in wreaking havoc.
Dallas Cowboys (2-7) at Minnesota Vikings (4-5)
Thanks to three straight wins against NFC North opponents, the Vikings have managed to get their 2020 season back on the rails. And they have every reason to be extra motivated for this weekend's game against the struggling Cowboys.
If the Vikings can pull off a win, that would get them to 5-5 and push them ahead of a fast-fading Bears team, who, like the Giants, are on a bye, for second place in the division.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, are trying to snap a four-game slide and should have quarterback Andy Dalton back in the saddle Sunday.
But one of the biggest challenges for Dallas will be figuring out how to stop running back Dalvin Cook, the league's rushing leader (174 carries for 954 yards).
The Cowboys must also figure out a way to slow down the Vikings' leading receiver, Justin Jefferson, who has 42 receptions for 762 yards, and who is on a pace to break the franchise rookie season records for receptions and receiving yards set by Randy Moss in 1998.
Dallas has been banged up in the defensive secondary. They lost rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs (broken foot/IR), but they could be getting back Chidobe Awuzie, who has been sidelined most of the year with a hamstring injury.
On offense, the Cowboys are also hoping to be able to get Ezekiel Elliott, who's been fighting through a hamstring strain, back into more of a flow.