Giants' Rooting Guide for 2021 NFL Draft Implications of Week 15

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2021

Giants' Rooting Guide for 2021 NFL Draft Implications of Week 15

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    The New York Giants slid further down the NFC East pecking order with another loss in Week 14, but they moved up where it matters more at this point.

    The 2021 campaign has not gone well for the Giants. Much can be attributed to injuries. Joe Judge's team has been forced to deal with lengthy injuries to several key contributors, including Saquon Barkley, Jabrill Peppers and Andrew Thomas.

    As frustrating as it is, there's still reason to believe the Giants have good things going for them as a franchise.

    Among those good things are the pair of picks that are trending toward being in the top five. That could add two blue-chip prospects to a franchise that already boasts a few—if they can stay healthy.

    So while the playoffs are out of the question, Giants fans have a reason to scoreboard-watch every week from here to until the end of the season. It's all about improving their draft stock and hoping the Chicago Bears pick that they own also moves up the board.

    Here are the three biggest games to care about in Week 15.

Jaguars over Texans

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    No game carries more draft significance for the New York Giants in Week 15 than the AFC South matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans.

    Both teams sit above the Giants at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively.

    But only one of those teams had something happen in the buildup that could have significantly improved morale. The Jacksonville Jaguars waited until just after midnight local time on a weeknight to fire head coach Urban Meyer, but it hasn't gone unnoticed.

    Meyer's tenure with the franchise was marked by friction. In his brief time with the Jaguars, he reportedly called his assistants "losers", kicked his kicker and lost credibility with players.

    In short, Jacksonville might not be good, but it certainly seems like Meyer was compounding that issue.

    With Meyer gone, there's a small chance the Jags can put together a strong end to the season. With the Texans and New York Jets both on the schedule, they could get to four wins. If the Giants lose out, it could see them level with the Jags and relying on tiebreakers.

Jets over Dolphins

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The draft has put Giants fans in a position that isn't all that appealing: Rooting for the New York Jets.

    Robert Saleh's team sits just ahead of the Giants pick with a 3-10 record and gets the streaking Miami Dolphins in Miami on Sunday.

    That's a tough matchup but not one that can be counted as a loss out of hand. It's true that the Jets have lost by double digits in back-to-back weeks, but it's also true they only lost 24-17 in this season's first matchup between the AFC East foes.

    In that game, Michael Carter found some success on the ground with 63 yards on nine carries. As it so happens Carter has been designated for return from injured reserve and could be back in the lineup with Tevin Coleman to give the Jets a decent rushing attack.

    The X-factor here is Zach Wilson. In the first meeting, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco was guiding the offense. He put up 291 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Wilson only has three games this season with two touchdowns and just one with more than 291 yards, and that went to overtime.

    If the Jets stand a chance of snapping the Dolphins' five-game winning streak, they are going to need the best Wilson performance they have seen.

Vikings over Bears

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    Stacy Bengs/Associated Press

    The Monday Night Football matchup features teams with losing records from the NFC North. That doesn't typically make for great television, but Giants fans have a heavy vested interest.

    The Giants own the Bears' pick from last year's draft-day trade that saw Chicago select Justin Fields. The rookie signal-caller might wind up being the guy in the future, but fortunately for the Giants, he has not meant a whole lot for them in the win column this season.

    Fields has appeared in 11 games this season, starting nine and going 2-7 as the starter.

    The Giants will hope that record gets to 2-8 when Chicago plays the Vikings in prime time. The Vikes are still alive in the NFC playoff race, although their hopes are dwindling.

    This game projects to be a shootout. The bad news for Giants fans is that the Bears offense put up 30 points against the Green Bay Packers defense in Fields' first game back from injury. The Vikings are 11th in scoring offense but also 25th in scoring defense.

    That sets up a wild showdown Monday that could surprise a few onlookers. At this point, Giants fans don't like surprises when it comes to the Bears.