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Sent: 11-18-22

E-GIANTS
Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he was one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls up until last year. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.

TOUGHEST PART OF THE SEASON STARTS NEXT WEEK

By Dave Klein
It is now time to reflect.

The Giants have played nine games of their 17-game season and they have won seven of those nine, which gives them a 7-2 record.

Go figure.

However, there are people who sit in small, cramped rooms all season and figure out all kinds of things, and one of them just announced that the Giants have the most difficult second half of the season among all the teams in the NFL.

This Sunday they play Detroit in MetLife Stadium (1 p.m.). That doesn't count among the most toughest, but it is still a game they could lose, of course. But after that they must face Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia, Washington again, Minnesota, Indianapolis and Philadelphia again.

Maybe the best way to approach this Mt. Everest of a challenge is to go along with head coach Brian Daboll's theory: "We play one game at a time. We decide what we must do each time we play another game and then we try to do it to the best of our ability. There just isn't another way."

Of tantamount concern is the durability of running back Saquon Barkley, who currently stands second in the NFL with 931 rushing yards, but he has only played in nine games. The leader, Tennessee's Derrick Henry, has 1,010 in 10 games - which means Barkley needs to gain 82 yards against the Lions to re-take the lead.

And at this moment in time, Barkley is the key to the Giants' offense, even more so than quarterback Daniel Jones, who is burdened with mediocre wide receivers and a so-so line.

Does Daboll concentrate on Barkley when he prepares the game plan? Does he instruct offensive coordinator Mike Kafka to make sure the former Penn State star gets a significant amount of touches?

"I think as the game goes, you get a feel for it and what's going to happen relative to play calls and how many times he's touching the ball," he says. "I don't think you can go into a game and say, 'hey, you're getting this many carries' or 'you're going to get this many passes.' I don't think you can do it that way. I just think as the game goes, that's how you call it, and you do what you think you need to do to win."

And has he started to talk to his team about the prospects for first place in the NFC East (which means the entire conference) and the playoffs yet?

"I'm sure they realize it, but that's not something we talk about it," he responded. "Again, we're at the halfway point or a little bit past the halfway point of a long race. I think you just keep on running, get ready for the next game, and play that game. The minute you start thinking about other things or what's going to happen three weeks from now, it just doesn't do anybody any good, particularly the team."

Let's call it the Daboll Directive and see if he can manage to tailor it all the way through this most difficult second half of the season.

EXTRA POINTS - The Giants are favored by 3-points against the 3-6 Lions. ... Detroit has won the last two meetings between the teams (2017, 2019) and holds a narrow 23-21-1 all-time series lead. ... That tie represents the last 0-0 knot in the NFL, on Nov. 7, 1943, during World War II.

The Lions had a guard on the starting unit named Augie Lio, who for years after his NFL career was the sports editor and columnist covering the Giants for the Passaic (NJ) Herald-News.

Rookie TE Daniel Bellinger (eye) did not practice Friday and will not be available on Sunday. ... Also excused from practice were DT Dexter Lawrence (rest), LB Kayvon Thibodeaux (illness), and relegated to Limited Practice were OT Evan Neal (knee), SS Dane Belton, WRs Kenny Golladay (???) and Wan'Dale Robinson (hamstring) and LB Jihad Ward (thumb).

Finally, on a personal note, the Lions' head coach, Dan Campbell, played for the Giants (1999-2002) as a tight end from Texas A&M.... He discovered I had a rooting interest in Oklahoma, and the day before the teams were to play, we "bet" a school t-shirt on the outcome. ... The Sooners won - and I'm still waiting for my T-shirt

davesklein@aol.com

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