The second half of the 2022-23 NFL season is here for the New York Giants, and no one knows what will happen. We can, though, have some fun making bold predictions about what might happen. So, let’s do that.
Giants make playoffs
If you go by predictive models this really is not a bold prediction. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Giants an 87.3 percent chance of being a playoff team. CBS Sports’ computer model gives the Giants a 92 percent chance. FiveThirtyEight forecasts an 80 percent chance the Giants are in the postseason.
The Giants reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2016, though, really is a bold prediction.
The Giants are 6-2, and my guess is it will take 10 wins to secure a wild-card spot. If I’m right, a 4-5 record over the final nine games would be enough to get the Giants into the postseason tournament.
The Giants have five NFC East games remaining (two vs. the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles, two vs. the not to be taken lightly Washington Commanders, one in Dallas on Thanksgiving). They also travel to face the 7-1 Minnesota Vikings. So, the path isn’t an easy one.
I will feel much better about this if the Giants hold serve the next two weeks at home against the 1-6-1 Houston Texans and 2-6 Detroit Lions. Even if they win just one of those two games, though, I think they can find a way to a 10-7 record, which should get the job done.
Kenny Golladay has a productive second half
Kenny Golladay is probably never going to be the No. 1 wide receiver the Giants gave a four-year, $72 million ($40 million guaranteed) to. More than likely, he probably isn’t even a Giant after this season.
The 29-year-old Golladay can, though, be a huge help to the Giants for the remainder of the season. And he doesn’t have to be a No. 1 receiver to do that.
What Golladay has to do is stay healthy and give the Giants more as a receiver than Marcus Johnson (six catches in five games) and David Sills (11 catches in eight games).
I have to believe Golladay can do that. At his worst last season, Golladay averaged 2.6 receptions and 37.2 yards receiving per game. The only wide receiver on the active roster averaging more receptions than that currently is Wan’Dale Robinson, who is averaging 3.0 receptions (for just 26.8 yards per game) thus far.
If Golladay can hit even his numbers from last season, and add a couple of touchdown catches, that production would look good in this version of the Giants’ passing attack.
It isn’t really a big ask.
Passing game goes through Wan’Dale Robinson
It’s hard for me to see a 5-foot-8, 185-pound player being a true No. 1 wide receiver, at least over the long term. I think, though, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants’ passing attack ends up working through Robinson for the remainder of the 2022-23 season.
Saquon Barkley leads the Giants with 28 receptions. Richie James tops the wide receivers with 20 receptions, but 14 of those came in the first three weeks.
The Giants are last in the league in explosive passing plays, with just nine plays of 20+ yards. One way to try and engineer more of those is to get the ball to Robinson more often.
I think we only saw the tip of the iceberg over the first eight games when it comes to what Robinson can do. I think he has a big second half of the season.
Dexter Lawrence makes Pro Bowl
Maybe this one isn’t a bold prediction. If Lawrence continues to play the way he has through the first eight games, better than he has at any other time in his four-year career, it will be an injustice if the 24-year-old doesn’t make the Pro Bowl.
Lawrence has already tied career highs with 4 sacks and 11 quarterback hits. He has played 83 percent of the Giants’ defensive snaps, an absurd total for a 340-pound man. Only Chris Jones, Aaron Donald and Quinnen Williams have Pro Football Focus grades better than Lawrence’s 90.1. At 90.5, Lawrence’s pass rush grade is better than every interior defensive lineman except Kansas City’s Jones.
Lawrence’s pass rush win percentage is No. 8 among 52 qualifiers, per PFF, and his pass rush pressure percentage is 10th among 52.
Lawrence told me during an exclusive training camp interview that “I just want to wreck games.”
He has been doing just that.
Giants hand Eagles first (only?) loss
Now, this is a bold prediction.
When I broached the idea of including it here with BBV’s Chris Pflum, this was his response:
“Philly isn’t going undefeated, and the Giants do have two games against them. So it could happen.”
The Eagles are going to win the NFC East. They are, however, going to lose to somebody, maybe a couple of somebodies, along the way.
The Giants’ first crack at the Eagles comes in Week 14 (Dec. 11) at MetLife Stadium. The second game is the season finale in Philadelphia on Jan. 8.
How delicious would that game be if the Giants entered needing a win to reach the playoffs, the Eagles entered 16-0 with a shot at history, and the Giants pulled off the upset in Philly?