Giants' Rooting Guide for 2021 NFL Draft Implications of Week 17

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2021

Giants' Rooting Guide for 2021 NFL Draft Implications of Week 17

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Going into Week 17, there are six teams within one game of each other vying for six important spots.

    No, we're not talking about the wild-card races. We're referring to the NFL draft order. While some teams are trying to put their best product on the field to make the postseason, the league's downtrodden are just hoping to make some progress and hopefully improve their draft stock.

    The New York Giants are among those teams and are set up to be winners either way Sunday. They currently own the No. 5 pick. They are set to play the Chicago Bears, who are slated to be on the clock at No. 8 but dealt the pick to the Giants in order to get Justin Fields in last season's draft.

    So even with a win Sunday, the Giants will be improving the draft stock of their later pick, which would tie the teams' records at 5-11.

    Of course, there are some other games that could improve the stock of both picks. Here's a look at three results Giants fans should be pulling for in Week 17.

Jets over Buccaneers

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    John Munson/Associated Press

    Rooting for the New York Jets has been a fairly fruitless exercise this season, but it paid off in Week 16. The Jets scored their fourth win of the season in their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    It pretty much cemented the Jaguars as picking either first or second, but it put the Jets in a position to get passed by the Giants for the third pick by the time we get to the finish line.

    That could still happen by strength of schedule, but the easier way is for the Jets to pick up an upset win in the final two weeks of the season. Their first opportunity to do so will come against a banged-up Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.

    In addition to injuries on offense for Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette, Shaq Barrett suffered a knee injury against the Carolina Panthers that has held him out of practice this week.

    Evans could be back after his hamstring injury, and the team did take care of business against the Carolina Panthers last time out, but they are only two weeks removed from a 9-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

    It's a slim hope, but there have been some improbable results in the past few weeks. Perhaps the Jets, coming off their fourth win of the season, will be motivated to put up their best performance of the season.

Texans over 49ers

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    A game that Giants fans can have a little more faith in is the late afternoon matchup between the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers.

    In Week 16, it looked like rooting for the Texans was a fool's errand. Then the team scored 41 points in a stunning upset over a Los Angeles Chargers team that was squarely in the playoff hunt.

    On Sunday, they are set to face another team in the playoff hunt. The 49ers are the No. 6 seed in the NFC but still have work to do clinch a postseason spot.

    The Texans could be a tricky out, though.

    For starters, the Niners didn't take care of business against a Derrick Henry-less Tennessee Titans team in their most recent game. Perhaps more importantly, starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a thumb injury that puts his status in question.

    "I played the entire game with it basically, so it's really just about being able to grip the ball and do the things I normally do, and we're gonna go test those out today, see how it feels and go from there," Garoppolo said, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.

    A feisty team with back-to-back wins going against a team unsure of its quarterback's status is a setup for an upset that would help the Giants move up the draft board.

Panthers over Saints

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    When your biggest reason for hope is handing over the quarterback reins to Sam Darnold, your season probably hasn't gone as expected. That's the case for the Carolina Panthers, who are standing at No. 7 in the draft with a 5-10 record.

    Darnold hasn't been a solution at quarterback, but this season has proved the franchise's issues extend beyond him. He was injured in a Week 9 loss to the New England Patriots in which he threw three interceptions.

    They have won just one game since. A combination of P.J. Walker and Cam Newton hasn't yielded better results. So Darnold, who is 4-5 when starting this season, will be reinserted as the starter.

    He saw time against the Bucs last time out but completed less than half of his 32 attempts for under 200 yards in the loss.

    On Sunday, the Panthers will get a Saints team that was embarrassed and nearly shut out by the Miami Dolphins on Monday. Granted, 21 players were on the COVID-19 reserve list, but a loss like that could take the wind out of their sails.

    Add in the fact that the Panthers won the first meeting 26-7, and this could be another game wherein the Giants get some draft help.