The Giants are officially out of time to fix whatever ails their offense and to fine-tune their championship-caliber defense. They are not expected to play many of their starters in their preseason finale on Thursday night in New England, and those that play likely won't see much action at all.
So for a veteran team whose starting lineup is all but set, this game is mostly about the down-roster battles, the backups, and the bottom-of-the-roster spots. There are a few exceptions, of course, but not many.
So here are five things worth watching when the Giants play the Patriots on Thursday night:
1. The backup quarterback battle
Despite Ben McAdoo leaving the door open a crack, don't expect rookie Davis Webb to win this job. It will come down to Geno Smith or Josh Johnson, and so far Smith, the ex-Jets starter, is in the lead. He's 26-of -3 this preseason for 244 yards and two interceptions. Johnson is 11 of 20 for 104 yards.
No, neither of them have inspired much confidence (or thrown a touchdown pass). Perhaps against the Patriots backups on Thursday night one of them will show something. With the ultra-durable Eli Manning in front of them, though, all they really need to show is competence and an ability to not turn the ball over.
The Giants probably already know who they're keeping, but they could always be swayed with a good or bad performance in the finale.
2. The kick off
Veteran Mike Nugent and first-year pro Aldrick Rosas are dead even in this competition. Rosas is 4-for-4 this preseason and Nugent is 5-for-5. Rosas nailed his lone 50-plus-yarder. Nugent nailed two. Their kickoffs have both been good. Not much has separated the two.
So yes, it could come down to their final kicks. Most likely, though, this is a battle being fought in Ben McAdoo's head. Is he comfortable coaching a Super Bowl contender with a young, strong-legged kicker who has never kicked in a regular-season game? Or would he feel better with a trusted veteran like Nugent who can still get the job done?
Only McAdoo knows for sure. And only he knows if any kicks on Thursday night will matter.
3. Brett Jones vs. John Jerry
The most likely scenario remains that the five starters on the Giants' offensive line all summer long will be the five starters on opening day. But if there's one spot that maybe seems a little open, it's right guard, where Jones has gotten some -- but not a lot -- of snaps in Jerry's place. He came in on Saturday night in the second series, right after Jerry gave up a sack. McAdoo insisted that was all part of the plan, even though the timing was suspicious.
For what it's worth, Jerry was back to taking almost all the first-team snaps at practice this week. Also, even though rookie Chad Wheeler eventually took over for Ereck Flowers at left tackle, there appears to be no indication a switch is coming there. Still, it's worth watching how they're deployed on Thursday night and how everyone -- particularly Jones and Jerry -- perform. It could be a sign of things to come.
4. Can Travis Rudolph make the team?
Rudolph is a good kid with a great story and he has some talent, but let's pump the brakes on any talk that he's Victor Cruz 2.0. He simply hasn't been that good this summer, nor has he had a Cruz-like breakout game. What he is, is a kid battling for one of the last spots on the roster, and his fate may come down to how he performs on Thursday night and how many receivers the Giants decide to keep.
Behind Odell Beckham, Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard, the Giants are likely keeping Tavarres King, Dwayne Harris, and Roger Lewis (assuming they're all healthy). Could Rudolph (six catches, 111 yards this summer) do enough to pass Lewis or King? It seems doubtful. His best bet might be convincing them he should stick around as the seventh receiver (not a terrible idea given the injuries to Beckham, Marshall, Harris, and King).
Basically, he needs to have the kind of game tonight that forces the Giants' hand, that makes them have to find a spot for him. Of course, it's also possible the Giants simply don't use him much or throw to him at all tonight. That would be a clear indication they're trying to sneak him through waivers for a spot on the practice squad.
5. Is everybody OK?
The Giants have had a lot of injury scares this summer -- Beckham (ankle), Shepard (ankle), and Marshall (shoulder), to name a few. But they have managed to avoid losing any starter for a long period of time, or any catastrophic, season-ending injury. This team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but it is not very deep at most positions.
So getting out of New England without losing any starters is absolutely the most important job on Thursday night.
McAdoo sometimes walks a bit of a tightrope between wanting to get his team ready and wanting to protect them, so while he probably won't play Manning or any starter with even a nagging injury, it's a good bet that a bunch of his starters will at least get a series or two. He really needs to get them out of this game as quickly as possible to make sure his starting lineup gets back to New Jersey intact.