Giants vs. Eagles Game Preview

Posted Dec 28, 2012 breaks down Sunday's regular season finale

Head coaches Tom Coughlin of the Giants and Andy Reid of the Philadelphia Eagles will stand on opposite sidelines for their 19th regular-season meeting Sunday, the most head-to-head matchups by active NFL coaches. It’s safe to say the prizes they’ll play for in MetLife Stadium are not what either envisioned when the schedule was released in April.

Back then it was easy to imagine that this could be the biggest game of Week 17, with the defending Super Bowl champions hoping to clinch their second straight NFC East title at the expense of their fierce rivals. The division title game, however, will be played in Washington between the Redskins and Cowboys.

At least the Giants can still make the playoffs, though it will take a parlay of events for that to happen. They must beat Philadelphia; Chicago and Minnesota must lose; and Dallas must lose or tie.

It’s a scenario to which Coughlin has given little thought. Admittedly perplexed after disappointing losses the last two weeks in Atlanta and Baltimore that dropped the Giants to 8-7, he has urged the players to finish the season with a performance they can be proud of.

“We have to deal with right now in the moment and we have a great opportunity,” Coughlin said. “We need to go play a very good football game. That’s the whole purpose here. It’s not about what the scenarios are or anything of that nature. It’s about us taking our football team and playing as well as we can possibly play. Then we’ll worry about everything else.”

Although the Eagles are 4-11, and have lost 10 of their last 11 games, they will form a major obstacle for the Giants. Their players and coaches would walk away from the season with a positive feeling if they ended it by eliminating the hated Giants from the playoffs. They are expected to play hard for Reid, who the media in Philadelphia and around the NFL is certain is coaching his last Eagles game after 14 years with the team. And the Eagles have had success against the Giants, winning eight of the last nine meetings, including a 2008 postseason game.

“I expect their best shot,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “I expect them to play hard. Regardless if it’s Coach Reid’s last game or not, it’s the Eagles and Giants. We both could have been 1-14 coming into this game. It’s still going to be a brawl and they’re going to get our best shot, hopefully, and we’re going to get their best shot and we’ll see what happens.”

“Their team is fighting,” wide receiver Victor Cruz said. “They’re fighting hard, and you can see that they’re out there playing with some pride themselves. We understand that, and we’ve just got to go out and match that same intensity that they’re playing with right now. Although their schedule may not say so, those last couple of games, they’ve been playing hard and playing some good football. We just have to be able to match that.”

In the losses the last two weeks to the Falcons and Ravens, the Giants never led and they compiled offensive and defensive statistics they’d like to strike from the public record.
Yes, the Giants can still make the playoffs. But to them, this game is about standing tall, playing to their potential and walking out of the season with their heads held high.

“This team has been in this predicament before and we just don’t want to end this season on a bad note,” running back Ahmad Bradshaw said. “So our plan is to come out hard and play our hardest.”
“Will it help make you feel any better about the season? Probably not,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “But it will make us feel better about that day (to) understand that we didn’t go out like chumps. We’re fighters and at least we’ll have a fighting chance at that point. You can always give yourself a chance if you even get in the dance, and once you get in the dance, anything is possible at that point, as we all know. So you’ve got to go out there and fight, and give yourself a chance. If you get in, then you make sure you give it a run for its money. If you don’t, then you understand that it came on us, that we did it to ourselves. But definitely go out there and fight. This season’s not over. We still have a game to go out there and play on Sunday.”

It’s up to them to make the most of it.

“We’re calm,” Cruz said. “We understand exactly what we need to do. I think the pressure is off of us a little bit. We’ve just got to go out there and play football. I feel like there’s no pressure for us. We’ve just got to go out there and take care of business and we understand that. You can kind of feel the tension slip away from this team and we’re just relaxed and ready to go.”

*The Giants could be significantly depleted at cornerback on Sunday. Starter Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and top backup Jayron Hosley (quadriceps) are both listed as doubtful. Amukamara, who played just four snaps last week, was limited in practice today. Hosley, who started for him in Baltimore and was injured in practice yesterday, did not work today.

If they don’t play, the Giants will have three corners available for Philadelphia: Corey Webster, Justin Tryon and Terrence Frederick, who was re-signed off the practice squad this week and played only on special teams in his one NFL game, in Atlanta.

“We have the three guys and we’ll see what Prince is like,” Coughlin said. “We’ll go from there.”

“I have to keep my mindset as if I’m going to play,” Amukamara said. “So until the coach or the trainers or whoever shuts me down then…as of right now, I’m still thinking I’m playing.”

*Defensive tackle Chris Canty did not practice all week and is doubtful with a knee injury suffered last week.

*Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (knee), safety Kenny Phillips (knee) and defensive end Justin Tuck (shoulder) are all questionable.

*Center David Baas (hip/shoulder), guard Chris Snee (hip), safety Tyler Sash (hamstring) and Bradshaw (knee/foot) are probable. All but Sash were limited in practice.

*Philadelphia declared two rookie defensive starters, tackle Fletcher Cox and linebacker Mychal Kendricks, out of the game. Each has a concussion.

Tight end Evan Moore is doubtful with a back injury.

Running back Chris Polk (toe) is questionable.

Wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (knee) and Jason Avant (calf/hamstring), guard Evan Mathis (ankle) and fullback Stanley Havili (hamstring) are probable.

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