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Five running backs who can save their teams’ seasons

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Barkley hasn’t been the impact player in the last month that we saw early in the season, and his slowdown has impacted the Giants. New York has lost three of its last four contests, with Barkley averaging 20.3 carries and 66.5 rushing yards per game in that span. That’s a big difference from Weeks 1 through 7, when he averaged the same amount of carries (20.4) but was far more efficient (103.7 rushing yards per contest). Sitting third in the NFC East, New York is hanging on with all its might to the sixth seed in the NFC, with Washington (7-5), Seattle (6-5) and Atlanta (5-7) waiting to take advantage if Big Blue continues to struggle.

The Giants must do everything they can to get Barkley going, with four of their last six games against the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Commanders. Their two other games are no cakewalk, either, including a trip to Minnesota in Week 16, followed by the Colts coming to MetLife Stadium the following week. This is a tough schedule, one that could leave the Giants on the outside looking in if Barkley can’t produce.

It’s not all on him. Hopefully, rookie tackle Evan Neal, whose absence since suffering an MCL sprain in Week 7 has coincided with Barkley’s downturn, returns soon. In the meantime, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka needs to find creative ways to use his star running back, employing screens and bootlegs or lining him up in the slot. Barkley is exceptional with the ball in space; he just needs to get there.

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