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NFL power rankings, Week 7: No credit for moral victories

The Giants remain near the bottom of the rankings

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It’s a bit difficult to determine whether the New York Giants’ 14-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday was a sign of progress or of further ineptitude.

Should the Giants get credit for keeping the game within five points against a Super Bowl contender? Or should the fact that they scored only nine points in five red-zone trips make the game a disappointment?

Most national writers aren’t sure what to make of things either, which is why the Giants held steady at No. 29 in our aggregate power rankings this week.

They have some company at the bottom: they’re one of six teams with only one win or fewer. Still, the Giants are routinely being ranked below teams such as the Arizona Cardinals, who they beat in Week 2.

With three winnable games in a row coming up, perhaps we’ll see the Giants rise a bit in the rankings. For now though, let’s recap some of the criticism coming New York’s way this week.

Aggregate ranking: 29

Last week: 29 (31)

Has a team ever lost a game like the Giants did Sunday, finishing both halves at the 1-yard line? Between the pre-halftime fiasco and end-game letdown, this was the cruelest way to squander Big Blue’s best defensive performance in recent memory. For three quarters, New York kept Josh Allen off the board, holding Buffalo to fewer than 150 yards. Brian Daboll seemed to expect even more from that unit when he kicked the field goal on fourth-and-1 from Buffalo’s 11-yard line early in the fourth, all but wasting a great Saquon Barkley drive. Tyrod Taylor did a lot of good things, but his pre-halftime clock error cost the Giants three points.

ESPN (28)

Lesson learned: The offensive line is holding them back.

There is no way around it. It doesn’t even matter who is at quarterback. The Giants are going to struggle scoring points and sustaining offense behind this makeshift offensive line. No wonder they’ve now gone 205 minutes (three-plus games) without an offensive touchdown. Giants quarterbacks are under too much duress for success — getting sacked on 12.7% of dropbacks, the second-highest rate in the league. — Jordan Raanan

CBS Sports (30)

Competing at Buffalo and falling short is progress. The defense played well, but they just don’t score on offense, and now Daniel Jones could be out for a long time.

Pro Football Talk (29)

“We didn’t get embarrassed in prime time” counts as progress.

Pro Football Focus (29)

After their loss to the Bills, the Giants have now gone for it on fourth down at the league’s second-highest rate, and they are ninth in EPA per play when they do so. They will need to continue that aggressiveness if they want to be successful, as they have the seventh-hardest remaining schedule, according to PFF Greenline.

Sports Illustrated (26)

There will be a larger forum to address this, but I don’t see many teams in a better position to capitalize on the trade deadline than the Giants. That’s really my takeaway from Sunday night’s loss to the Bills. The reality is that they are stockpiled with players who could be desirable last-minute pieces on contending rosters and who are not young enough to be part of the eventual rebuild.

FOX Sports (28)

It’s amazing how noticeable it is when a team has a solid game plan and looks geared up and ready to go. The Giants’ offensive line is still a mess, and Tyrod Taylor started for Daniel Jones. Despite that, this was the feistiest we’ve seen New York play all season.

Bleacher Report (30)

“One stat is all that’s necessary to understand just how bad the Giants are this season: According to OptaSTATS, the Giants are the first team in the Super Bowl era to lose a game despite more rushing yards, more passing yards, fewer interceptions thrown, fewer fumbles lost and fewer missed FG than their opponent,” he said. “Prior to Sunday’s outcome, teams had been 134-0 when all of those numbers fell in their favor. This year’s Giants epitomize the saying, ‘If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.’ They didn’t do enough to address last year’s problem areas and they’ve only become bigger issues this season.”

Yahoo Sports (30)

The focus was on the Giants ending each half Sunday night on Buffalo’s 1-yard line without scoring either time, but it’s worth commending New York on its effort. For the first 20 quarters of the season, the Giants were horrible for 18 of them. They fought hard on Sunday night despite numerous injuries. There’s something to be said for that.