OAKLAND — For the New York Giants, a season that started with so much promise has turned to utter disappointment and the franchise has already started planning for 2018 even though there’s still a month left in this regular season.
The season has gone only marginally better for Oakland, but in the mediocre AFC that’s still enough to keep the Raiders in contention.
The Raiders (5-6) head into Sunday’s matchup with the Giants (2-9) that features two of the league’s biggest flops this season just one game out of first place in the AFC West thanks to a major slump by Kansas City.
“We’re just scratching and clawing and trying to do everything we can to get the next win,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “Our margin for error has really been eliminated.”
The Giants have little to play for and have already started planning for the future this week by benching two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning after 210 consecutive starts in order to get the opportunity to take a look at Geno Smith on Sunday and rookie Davis Webb down the road.
It’s a decision that was extremely unpopular in New York among fans who remember Manning’s Super Bowl success and former players upset about the treatment of one of the franchise’s most important players.
“The decision is bigger than me. It’s for the organization and the future of the organization, making sure we have a clear evaluation of the other two quarterbacks on the roster,” coach Ben McAdoo said.
“Sometimes you have to be the punching bag, and right now I’m the punching bag. That goes with the territory. I have thick skin and I can handle it.”
The decision to bench Manning for a quarterback who flamed out with the New York Jets and has started just one game the past three seasons had some critics saying the Giants were tanking the rest of the season to get a better draft pick.
That’s a charge that co-owner John Mara found insulting.
“I would never allow that here,” he said. “We’re going to try to win the games. We’re just going to have to try to do it with a different guy at quarterback.