At 5-5,the New York Giants still control their own fate as they enter the stretch run of the season.
Still leading the NFC East, the Giants return from the bye week with a game at Washington before a difficult four-game stretch that leads the team to its regular-season finale against Philadelphia.
After the Week 11 bye, the Giants had a chance to retool and get healthy.
Here are five things we'd like to see from the Giants following the bye week:
A pass rush
The Giants enter Week 12 tied for last place in the NFL with 12.0 sacks. But in Week 10, the Giants seemingly pieced together their best pass rush of the season, sacking Tom Brady three times in a close loss.
Jason Pierre-Paul also had a sack, but it was wiped away by a penalty. Nonetheless, it's an encouraging sign that Pierre-Paul is already making strides despite playing in two games, and the rest of the Giants' defensive line is stepping up to the challenge as well.
The Giants need a pass rush to win the NFC East and make noise in the playoffs. It's a blueprint that led the team to two Super Bowls over the past decade. As we saw early on in this season, a lack of a pass rush made the team wildly inconsistent and an easy stepping stone against superior teams.
The Giants opened the season with one of the better defenses in the league. However, as injuries began to force players out of the lineup, this rag-tag group began to falter.
This week, the Giants had a chance to make room for defensive reinforcements at multiple levels of the defense. Cornerback Prince Amukamara is back opposite of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Amukamara had been dealing with a pectoral tear and missed five games. He'll take over for Jayron Hosley in the starting lineup and be an upgrade against teams' No. 2 wideouts.
Additionally, J.T. Thomas (ankle) and Uani 'Unga (neck) should be back in the mix, too. Thomas has missed the last three games and Unga has missed the past two.
In other words, nearly the Giants' entire starting linebacking corps was sidelined. With Thomas and Unga back, the front seven is again solidified and should help improve a rush defense that has struggled in recent weeks, allowing more than 100 yards in five of the last six games.
The Giants have rushed for more than 100 yards twice in eight games, and no Giants running back has eclipsed 100 yards in a single game to date.
That needs to change if the Giants are going to find balance in their offense down the stretch.
With a backfield comprised of Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa, Tom Coughlin must configure a plan in which the team has more success on the ground to set up play-action pass and control the time of possession. Otherwise, the Giants are going to continue to be predictable and inconsistent running the ball.
Darkwa leads the team with a 4.7 yard per carry average, which is more than the Giants' team averages per carry (3.8), which is 27th in the NFL. The 23-year-old back has proven he's deserving of more carries as he fits what the Giants are trying to do offensively.
Ereck Flowers' strong second half
The Giants' rookie left tackle is going to remain right where he has been all season since incumbent Will Beatty will not be returning to the field in 2015.
Thus far, Flowers has had a very … rookie type of season, with bright spots and blemished all alike.
With some injuries nagging the Giants along the offensive line to Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, the team needs stability from other areas. One of those areas needs to be at left tackle.
Flowers needs to come out strong for the stretch run and protect Eli Manning from some talented edge rushers that the Giants are going to face over the final six games.
Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said Flowers' technique is improving at practice, but it needs to translates to the games. After a week to continue to perfect his technique, Flowers needs to step up and play a pivotal role on this offensive line.
Rueben Randle being a true No. 2
Odell Beckham Jr. has enjoyed continued success his sophomore seasons. He ranks seventh in the NFL with 863 receiving yards on 63 receptions to go along with eight touchdowns.
And he might not be the most important receiver on the Giants.
We know what to expect out of Beckham - playmaking ability, outstanding catch-and-runs and a consistent threat to opposing defenses.
However, Beckham is susceptible to struggles when defenses blanket him.
Those defenses are unable to do so when Randle is at his best.
When Randle catches a touchdown, the Giants are 3-0. He's a perfect complement to Beckham's skillset, and with Dwayne Harris now the full-time starter in the slot and perhaps Hakeem Nicks finding a niche role in the offense, Randle needs to step up and be a true No. 2 option for Manning.
Randle has seen an uptick in targets. Six seems to be a magic number of sorts. When Randle is targeted six or more times, the Giants are 3-2. Not too shabby.