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Giants vs. Raiders storylines: What to watch for this week

The Giants host Las Vegas in Week 9

New York Giants v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The New York Giants host the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday at 1 p.m. Here are some of the storylines to follow for Week 9.

Who’s in, who’s out?

We are here every week with the Giants, aren’t we? Trying to figure out which injured players will make it to the starting line? Which players will sit out? Who is headed to injured reserve this week? Who will be added to the roster to replace the newest broken, unusable parts?

It is tiresome. It is frustrating. It is sad. It is also reality.

Will Saquon Barkley or Kenny Golladay play for the first time in four weeks? How long will Sterling Shepard be out this time? Any chance left tackle Andrew Thomas will come off IR? What about Dante Pettis? Might we see rookie Elerson Smith come off IR this week? Who will get hurt this week?

So many injury questions. So little desire to keep writing about them.

How good are the Raiders?

The Raiders lead the AFC West with a 5-2 record. The only truly impressive victory they have thus far, though, is a Week 1 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens. Las Vegas also beat the 4-3 Pittsburgh Steelers, had to go to overtime to beat the 1-7 Miami Dolphins, then defeated the 4-4 Denver Broncos and 3-5 Philadelphia Eagles.

The Raiders also own a fairly one-sided 20-9 loss to the 3-5 Chicago Bears.

So, I think how good the Raiders are is a legitimate question. The Giants are 3-point underdogs here, per DraftKings Sportsbook. This, though, feels like an eminently winnable game for the Giants. If, of course, they can get out of their own way.

Another second-half “surge?”

We have seen this movie before. Terrible first half of a season, good enough second half to provide some hope heading into the following season.

  • 2020: A 1-7 start with a 5-3 finish for a 6-10 record.
  • 2018: A 1-7 start with a 4-4 finish for a 5-11 record.

If you want to look at poor first halves of seasons, it gets even worse. These, though, are two examples of seasons where things improved just enough in the second half to make you believe there was light at the end of what has been a long, dark tunnel.

Will this season another one of those years?

There are a number of winnable games on the Giants’ remaining schedule, so that is a distinct possibility.

By the way, what is the mid-point of a 17-game season? Have we reached it? Is it the upcoming bye week? Is it halftime of Sunday’s game against the Raiders? I have no idea.

COVID-19 outbreak?

As I write this, all Giants personnel are being re-tested for COVID-19 after there were a reported 13 positive tests on Tuesday, including some players. Thus far, the only reported positive test on Wednesday has been running backs coach Burton Burns.