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Giants at Cardinals: Five things to watch

Yes, there are reasons to pay attention

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Evan Engram
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There are still reasons to pay attention to the New York Giants as they finish out this long-ago lost season. Here are five things to watch Sunday when the Giants face the Arizona Cardinals.

Avoiding the franchise’s worst 16-game season

The Giants have already tied the franchise record for losses in a season. Now, the Giants would like to avoid having the worst 16-game season in franchise history. In 1983, the Giants went 3-12-1. They need at least a win and a tie against the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins the final two weeks, or this will officially become the worst year the Giants have had since the league went to 16 games in 1978.

Climbing the 30-point mountain

The Giants have not scaled the 30-point mountain since the final game of the 2015 season, back in the long-ago days when Tom Coughlin was about to be run out of town as head coach. They got close last week, scoring 29 points against the Philadelphia Eagles, but special teams blunders sent them tumbling back down. The offense has shown improvement the past two weeks with Mike Sullivan solely in charge. Can the Giants finally scale the 30-point mountain? It’s one of the few really interesting things left to find out about this season.

Romeo, oh Romeo!

The Giants this week activated defensive end Romeo Okwara off the IR/Designated to Return list. Big deal, you say? They’re 2-12, what difference does it make? Well, maybe it is finally an indication that the Giants won’t ride Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul quite as hard the final two games. Pierre-Paul has been playing with a club on his hand recently, and hasn’t practiced the past couple of weeks.

Not getting enough rest for those two has been an issue for the Giants all season. They absolutely have to figure out how to do that for 2018. Can Okwara, who made the team as an undrafted free agent in 2016, be part of the answer? He has shown some pass-rush ability. Avery Moss? The fifth-round pick’s playing time has been dwindling rather than increasing.

Can Engram catch Shockey?

Tight end Evan Engram has 63 catches and 710 receiving yards this season. He needs 12 catches and 185 yards to surpass the franchise rookie records in those categories of 74 and 894, set by Jeremy Shockey in 2003.

Engram is averaging 4.5 catches and 50.7 yards receiving per game, so catching Shockey seems unlikely. A big game Sunday against Arizona, though, might put the records within reach.

Limpin’ Landon

Landon Collins is limping around on a bad ankle. The Giants are 2-12 and won’t play a meaningful snap until Week 1 of next season. None of that matters, though, to Collins. He is determined to continue to play as much as he can. Shut it down? Start getting ready for next season?

Collins isn’t hearing any of that stuff.

“No. Not at all,” he said this week when asked if he has thought about not playing anymore this season. “That’s not built in me. I’m definitely going to give my other guys some reps at the position, but I’m definitely not in the mindset to shut it down.”

That attitude is part of what makes Collins, just named to his second Pro Bowl in three seasons, a great player. It’s part of what makes him a young, emerging leader in the Giants’ locker room. He will be the defensive captain one day soon, and a player others in the locker room will have to answer to.

Collins only lasted 18 snaps last week vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s see how long he can go Sunday vs. the Cardinals.