By Curt Macysyn

After Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints, one question about this year’s version of the New York Giants was seemingly answered, while a couple more questions popped up. First, it seems that when healthy, Big Blue’s offense is capable of getting the job done. In half a season, quarterback Eli Manning has thrown for 17 touchdowns against just four interceptions, while Odell Beckham is more than halfway (654 receiving yards) to another 1,000-yard season. In addition, Beckham already has seven touchdown catches, which is tied for first with Rob Gronkowski and Larry Fitzgerald in the NFL.

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The Giants’ four-headed running back, consisting of Rashad Jennings, Orleans Darkwa, Andre Williams and Shane Vereen have rushed for almost 700 yards, even if their 3.8 yards per carry is not top rung. While the offensive line play is one injury away from critical mass, it appears that at least offensively, the Giants are in good shape; the same cannot be said for the defense. In terms of reinforcements from outside the building, do not count on any, as New York will depend on injured stars and better play in order to pave their way to a playoff berth.

The Bucs Stop Here

In terms of the schedule, the Giants face a must-win situation against the Buccaneers on Sunday. After they face Tampa Bay, the Giants play host to the New England Patriots in Week 10. If they lose both games, then their season, for all intents and purposes, may be over. They would likely have to go 5-1 over the last six games to end up at 9-7, a record that does not seem within the capacity of this squad.

Included in the last six games are a visit to Minnesota and difficult home games against the Eagles, Jets and Panthers. Added together, you can see why this Sunday’s contest against the Buccaneers becomes so critical. Is it impossible to make the playoffs if the G-men lose? No, but the road to the playoffs becomes exponentially more difficult with a loss, that much we do know for certain.

Practice Squad Roulette

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New York returned two familiar faces to their practice squad when the team announced on Tuesday that they has re-signed tight end Matt LaCosse and safety Cooper Taylor. Taylor was on the 53-man roster this season for the Giants, and the third-year man from Richmond played in three games for the G-men this season. LaCosse impressed in training camp, but was release on Aug. 2 with a hamstring injury. Because he received an injury settlement, this was the first week that the Giants could sign LaCosse.

Currently, New York has two tight ends on their roster with Will Tye and Larry Donnell. Donnell has a neck injury that bears watching to see if LaCosse will be needed to fill in for Donnell. In other practice squad news, fan favorite Corey Washington was signed by the Washington Redskins to their practice squad on Oct. 26, while another former Giants’ player, cornerback Chykie Brown, is still a free agent after being released at final cuts.

Injury Optimism?

The Giants have several players who could be instrumental in a run at the NFC east title if they can get on the field by the end of this month. In the case of Jason Pierre-Paul the answer is a simple one. JPP will be added to the roster either this week or next, as his roster exemption runs out. Head coach Tom Coughlin said on Wednesday, “It has to do with him and whether he’s ready or not,” Coughlin said. “If he’s ready, we’ll play him. If he’s not ready, then we’ll take more time.” With the defensive meltdown on Sunday, odds are good that Pierre-Paul will make his 2015 debut.

There are also rumors that Prince Amukamara will play this week, because of a positive MRI report on his pectoral muscle, which would be a bonus, Jayron Hosley and Trevin Wade have been inferior as Amukamara’s replacement. Offensive tackle Will Beatty is coming back slowly from a pectoral injury as well, but his likely gets his first action against the New England Patriots next week. There will not be a Victor Cruz siting this week as he continued to mend a pulled calf muscle.

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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.