PHILADELPHIA — It wasn’t a completely terrible day for the Giants.
Sure, the offense’s follies unfolded same as usual Sunday in a 34-10 loss to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. But this Giants’ latest disastrous season in a disastrous decade is more about what happens to other teams at other stadiums around the league.
That’s where a bit of good news comes in: The Jets beat the Jaguars, and the Texans beat the Chargers. It would’ve been better still if the Seahawks hadn’t choked away a lead against the Bears. Yes, scoreboard-watching is what a season that began with spending-spree-fueled playoff aspirations has been reduced to in December.
NFL coaches and players talk in clichés about cherishing the 17 game days because there are so few relative to other sports, but Giants fans and media alike were reduced to refreshing Tankathon.com for the final 15 minutes of a blowout — waiting on potential changes at the top of the 2022 draft order.
The Giants are projected for picks No. 5 and No. 8 (courtesy of a trade with the Bears) instead of No. 5 and No. 6 had the Seahawks held on to a lead. But the draft outlook is a little rosier than when the day began because there is a three-way tie among the Jets, Texans and Giants.
Draft-position tiebreakers are settled by opponents’ winning percentage — the worse the schedule, the higher the draft pick — and right now the Giants (.540) are pushed toward the bottom in that mini-loser’s bracket. The gap is wide enough that is unlikely the Jets (.512) or Texans (.492) make a move.
The difference late-season results make are very real to Giants fans, who still bemoan a win at Washington in 2019 that essentially sent 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year pass-rusher Chase Young there and brought left tackle Andrew Thomas to New York. Or the 2020 regular-season finale win against the Cowboys that left Dallas one pick ahead of the Giants and set up the trade with the Eagles, who stole DeVonta Smith from general manager Dave Gettleman’s grasp.
“I’m here for a reason,” Smith said after his touchdown catch Sunday put the Eagles ahead 20-3. “I’m glad to be here.”
One more win by either the Jets (victorious in two of their last five games) or the Texans (winners of two straight) — or both! — feels more possible than a win by the Giants, who have scored one touchdown in 14 quarters of non-garbage time during their four-game losing streak. So, pick No. 3 is very much within reach.
The real complication is that the Giants visit the Bears next week. So, maybe the best way to sum up the state of irrelevance is that the most meaningful question right now is whether it is better for Giants’ draft position if one team wins and one team loses, or if the game ends in a tie. That’s an argument to settle over whether it is preferable to have the highest pick possible and one near the bottom of the top 10, or two sandwiched in between the extremes.
The top three-projected picks in the 2022 draft are pass-rushers Kaylon Thibodeaux (Oregon) and Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) and offensive tackle Evan Neal (Alabama).
Improving both lines is the Giants’ biggest need, and there are other projected top-10 options, including pass-rusher George Karlaftis (Purdue) and offensive tackle Charles Cross (Mississippi State).