The Los Angeles Rams have two games remaining in the 2023 regular season with the first against the New York Giants who are 6-point underdogs at DraftKings Sportsbook. LA is 5-1 in their last six games and have to win in New York to strengthen their hold on the sixth-seed in the NFC.
The Giants were eliminated from playoff contention on Christmas day (merry frickin’ Christmas am I right?) but can play spoiler in Week 17. To gain familiarity with the enemy ahead of a must-win matchup for the Rams, I interviewed Ed Valentine from SB Nation’s Giants blog Big Blue View.
Q - The Giants started out 2-8, yet fooled around a little and went 3-2 in their following five games. It was not a very merry Christmas for New York as they were officially eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16. What enabled the Giants to remain in playoff contention for as long as they did?
A - I don’t think the Giants were ever in ‘real’ playoff contention. They were on the periphery of it and telling themselves they were in the race as motivation. The Giants went from 2-8 to 5-8 based on a three-game streak where, aside from Green Bay, they played weak competition (Washington, New England) and won the turnover battle by a 12-3 margin those three weeks. They did some good things, and DeVito-mania was born, but they got a lot of help from bad teams.
Q - I’ve seen various rumors regarding head coach Brian Daboll’s future with the Giants. Personally, I wouldn’t put him on the hot seat as not everything has been his fault this season. Aside from injuries and inconsistent play, what has caused Daboll’s squad to regress from their surprising playoff run from a year ago and how does he rebound?
A - I don’t think Daboll is on the hot seat. Nor should he be. He and first-year GM Joe Schoen took the Giants to a surprising playoff berth a year ago, and that counts for a lot. The Giants had a brutal schedule the first six weeks, with Arizona being the only non-playoff team. That stretch destroyed them as they went 1-5. They’ve had injuries. They had awful offensive line play much of the year. Daniel Jones, partially because of the OL, regressed. Then he got hurt. Twice. Some regression might have been expected, because the Giants were out over their skis a bit a year ago.
I think 2024 is a key season for Schoen and Daboll. It will be Year 3. They don’t necessarily need to go to the playoffs, but another season of 11 or 12 losses is not going to sit well with ownership. They need to get the quarterback and offensive line situations right, and they need to stop getting blown out so often.
Q - Rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito was benched at halftime for veteran Tyrod Taylor in Philadelphia. DeVito had a nice stretch for a time but crashed down to earth the last two weeks. Daboll said in his postgame remarks that he’s unsure which QB gets the nod against the Rams. What contributed to DeVito’s struggles against the Saints and Eagles and why was Taylor benched for the rookie in the first place?
A - I think what contributed to DeVito’s struggles is better competition, with the Saints and Eagles being arguably the best two teams he played against, plus the reality that there is now enough film out there for teams to have a book on DeVito. He’s an inexperienced kid who is learning to understand NFL defenses and has limited arm strength.
As for why Taylor was benched, he really wasn’t. Daniel Jones got hurt and Taylor stepped in. Then, Taylor broke four ribs and went on IR. When Taylor came back from IR the Giants had won three straight games and DeVito had just led a game-winning drive in the final minute against the Packers. Daboll just ran with the hot hand since the Giants were winning, but that seems to have run its course.
Q - Who is a player on offense that Rams fans should be familiar with on Sunday? What about on defense?
A - Offense — You may already know who he is, but the Giants are trying more and more to get the ball to WR Wan’Dale Robinson in situations where he can try to run with the ball and make something happen. They have had mixed success with that, but Robinson is a good young player.
Defense — Giants fans have waited most of the season to see DT Jordon Riley, a seventh-round pick who excelled in preseason. He played a season-high 35 snaps on Monday against the Eagles. The Giants have moved slowly with Riley, who struggled in a handful of reps earlier in the season. He had some excellent reps Sunday against Jason Kelce, though, and the Giants might have found something with this seventh-rounder.
Q - The Giants are 6-point underdogs with an O/U of 42 at DraftKings Sportsbook. How do you envision this game going for New York and what must the Giants do to pull off an upset?
A - I doubt that I will be picking the Giants to win this game. The Rams still have a lot on the line, and they won’t be taking the Giants lightly. Whenever the Giants have had success in recent weeks it has been because they create takeaways. That will have to be the case on Sunday against the Rams.