The game is completely meaningless in terms of the NFL standings, but there are good reasons to pay attention Sunday when the 3-9 New York Giants face the 2-10 Tennessee Titans. Let's go over five things to watch during this epic contest.
Damontre Moore ... and Kerry Wynn
It seems like everyone has been screaming for athletic second-year defensive end Damontre Moore to get increased playing time. Starting Sunday vs. the Tennessee Titans, Moore will get exactly that. This can't, however, be the way anyone wanted it to go down. Moore will get that time because, basically, he's the last man standing. Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers were both placed on injured reserve this week, leaving no choice for the Giants other than to give Moore extended time. The concerns with Moore have been run defense and his tendency to make assignment mistakes. We will find out over the next four games if he is making progress there.
"It's an opportunity. Any time an opportunity presented itself in the past, I've taken advantage of it. I've been waiting for it a long time," Moore said on Thursday. "I'm just waiting to step up. I've been preparing a lot and then I had a lot of great veteran leadership that was in front of me within these past two years. I got to learn from Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Jason Pierre-Paul, so I feel like it's my time and I'm ready to take advantage of it."
As a bonus, the third defensive is Wynn. He is an undrafted free agent who played impressively in his NFL debut last week. We get to see if that was beginner's luck, or if Wynn is a guy who could become part of the defensive end rotation in the future.
The Second Half ... If You Dare
The Giants took a 21-3 lead into halftime last week against a 1-10 team, and lost. Second-half swoons have been the story of the season thus far. Here are some numbers to show you just how pitiful the Giants have been in the second halves of games:
-- The Giants have led or been tied at halftime in six games this season. They won only two of those games.
-- The Giants have trailed at halftime six times this season. They won only once this season when trailing at halftime. They trailed the Atlanta Falcons, 13-10, at halftime before pulling out a 30-20 Week 5 victory. The Giants have been outscored in the second half, 199-112.
-- The Giants were never out of any of those other five games by halftime. The largest deficit in any of those games as 13 points, 16-3, to the Indianapolis Colts.
I don't know if it's lack of talent, lack of solid halftime adjustments, inexperience in some key spots, a combination of all of those, or something else entirely. Whatever it is, the Giants have to learn how to close games.
Because, well, because you never know when the kid is going to do something else spectacular. He just completed the best month a rookie wide receiver has ever had -- if you skip the fact that the Giants didn't win a game, of course. What is he going to do for an encore? Watching Beckham is one of the few fun things about watching the Giants as this dismal season crawls to a close.
Special Teams Coverage
With so many injuries and so many new faces, the one thing that can often suffer is special team play -- especially kick coverage. The Giants have been excellent in kickoff coverage most of the season, and have gotten better covering punts. Can that continue with so many new, untested, inexperienced players manning those units?
An Orleans Darkwa Sighting?
If Rashad Jennings (ankle) can't play, which seems likely since he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, the rookie who was signed off the Miami Dolphins practice squad a few weeks ago will be the primary backup for Andre Williams.
Darkwas a pre-season sensation for Miami. The 6-foot, 215-pound back from Tulane was the Dolphins' leading rusher in preseason, gaining 112 yards on 25 carries (4.5 yards per carry). His longest run was 53 yards. Darkwa also caught seven passes for 53 more yards and had one kickoff return for 29 yards.
Darkwa played in three regular-season games for Miami. The Giants signed him Nov. 12 and he has appeared in two games on special teams. The Giants are clearly intrigued by Darkwa.
"He is working his way into it, he has been here a little while, he is smart, conscientious, we trust him. He has a little different flavor back there for us, next man up," said offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. "He is a shiftier type guy and we like his ... stay tuned. We will leave it at that."