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
“Their team is fighting,” wide receiver
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
“Will it help make you feel any better about the season? Probably not,” safety
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
If they don’t play, the Giants will have three corners available for Philadelphia:
“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.”
*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.