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Improved line buoys Giants – Times Union

East Rutherford, N.J.

The New York Giants are making life easier for Eli Manning since the bye week.

After opening with a 1-7 record, Pat Shurmur’s team has won four of five by doing all the little things that make a quarterback look good.

The offensive line, which was much maligned before the bye, has been reshaped and is protecting the two-time Super Bowl MVP better while opening holes for sensational rookie halfback Saquon Barkley to show his skills.

The defense has forced 12 turnovers in the five-game span, including 11 interceptions. And the pass rush, nonexistent much of the season, has 10 sacks in the past two games after getting 14 in the first 11.

Put it all together and the Giants (5-8) still have a slim shot at making the playoffs heading into Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium against the Tennessee Titans (7-6).

All the talk about this being the 37-year-old Manning’s final season as the starter also has died down. It actually looks like he can be the starter for a few more years.

Manning said Wednesday the biggest difference since the bye has been the Giants’ ability to run the ball. Barkley has rushed for at least 100 yards in the past four games, capped by a career-best 170 yards on 14 carries in the 40-16 win over Washington on Sunday.

Bills: Don’t count out LeSean McCoy just yet. Though the Bills running back missed practice Wednesday to nurse a sore left hamstring, McCoy told The Associated Press there’s a chance he’ll play in Buffalo’s home game against Detroit on Sunday. “I want to try to get in a couple of good games before it’s over,” McCoy said, before leaving the locker room. He’s topped 100 yards rushing just once, scored twice and managed just 479 yards rushing this season. With Buffalo (4-9) out of playoff contention, the Bills are also focused on evaluating their youth over their final three games.

Seahawks: Seattle will be without linebacker Mychal Kendricks for the rest of the season after he suffered a knee and lower leg injury in the Seahawks’ win over Minnesota. Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that Kendricks will need surgery for a couple of different issues, including the knee and “a little nick” to his lower leg. Carroll said Kendricks would need at least six to eight weeks of recovery.

Eagles: Carson Wentz is sidelined with a back injury, but two people familiar with the situation tell The Associated Press the quarterback hasn’t been ruled out for Philadelphia’s game at the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the team hasn’t made any definitive determination

Draft: The NFL draft is heading to Las Vegas for 2020. “We believe the draft will be the kickoff to our inaugural season,” said Raiders owner Mark Davis, who is moving the team from Oakland. The league announced Wednesday at an owners meeting that the city where the Raiders will begin play in September 2020 will host the draft that April.

Owners meetings: Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL won’t pay for video evidence in cases involving domestic violence, and he defended the league’s handling of those investigations. Speaking after owners held their annual winter meeting Wednesday, Goodell said the NFL’s approach to dealing with domestic violence is “extraordinary” and that the league has some of the highest standards of any organization. The league also announced what it said were stronger provisions for the Rooney Rule, which is designed to promote diversity in hiring practices.

Ravens: Joe Flacco has lost his job as starting quarterback and will be the backup Sunday for the first time in his 11-year NFL career. Flacco is healthy after missing the past four games with a right hip injury. The Ravens went 3-1 during his absence under rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, and coach John Harbaugh has decided to stick with the first-round draft pick.

Bears: Cornerback Bryce Callahan (broken left foot) was placed on injured reserve.

Saints: Released veteran receiver Brandon Marshall.

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