It's Week 15 of a lost NFL season for the New York Giants. Are there still reasons to watch when the Giants host the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET/FOX)? Sure there are. Here are some of them.
Rise of the Rookies
Odell Beckham is a star. Linebacker Devon Kennard just won Defensive Player of the Week honors and looks like he might be one, too. Andre Williams just had the best game of his career. Weston Richburg is playing better since he was benched a couple of games ago. Jay Bromley is seeing more snaps. The kids are all right.
For that matter, so are some of the second-year guys. Justin Pugh, Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore are among the core players the Giants hope will take them into the future.
Yes, we mentioned Beckham already. But, hey, the rookie wide receiver is the brightest star the Giants have right now and the biggest reason to pay attention to their games. If you are are MetLife Stadium Sunday, end your tailgate festivities early, get to your seat and check out Beckham's warm-up routine. It's worth it. Maybe Beckham will throw another pass this week, and maybe it will be left-handed this time.
Beckham (59-829) needs 15 receptions and 65 yards to surpass Jeremy Shockey (74-894 in 2012) for the most receptions and receiving yards by a Giants rookie in franchise history.
Can The Giants Keep Bringing The Heat?
The Giants have recorded a stunning 15 quarterback sacks in the past two weeks, just four fewer than the 19 sacks they totaled in the first 11 games. Kennard has four of those. Jason Pierre-Paul has 3.5 as the free-agent-to-be continues a late-season salary drive. Jameel McClain has two and Damontre Moore has two.
The Redskins would appear to be vulnerable to the pass rush. Washington has given up 46 sacks this season, second-most in the league.
Perhaps it is JPP who bears the most watching. He says he wants to be "a Giant for life," and those 3.5 sacks over the past two games are a nice stat-padding way to start campaigning for a big contract. Will that continue? Even if it does, how will the Giants view it against his lack of pass rush during the truly meaningful part of the season?
Offensive Line Improvement
The offensive line had one of its best games of the season Sunday vs. the Tennessee Titans. The Giants averaged 4.7 yards per carry rushing the ball, and quarterback Eli Manning was never sacked. Richburg, Pugh and Will Beatty figure to comprise three-fifths of the offensive line next season, along with Geoff Schwartz (IR). So, their performances are the most important ones to take note of.
It appears that the early-week stuff about Manning alleged "back" injury was much ado about nothing. Manning will make his 165th straight start Sunday, and with three games to go the 11-year veteran is sitting on some interesting numbers.
His current completion rate of 62.9 percent matches his 2010 career-best. Can he raise that, maybe get close to 65 percent for the season? He has 3,2340 yards passing, within striking distance of his first 4,000-yard season since 2011. He has 13 interceptions and his 2.7 percent interception rate matches the second-lowest of his career. He needs three touchdown passes to surpass Dan Fouts (254) for 14th place on the all-time list.