While all eyes will be glued to Redskins vs. Eagles on Saturday night, the 6-8 Giants are in full-scale preparation for their trip to Minnesota to take on the 9-5 Vikings.
In order for the Giants to make the playoffs, they need to win their final two games while the Redskins must lose theirs. Meanwhile, the Vikings look to clinch at least a Wild Card spot with a win on Sunday night while also trying to stay alive in the hunt for the NFC North title.
"We know the circumstances and the percentages," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We've got two games to play, a two-game schedule. We want to play as best we can, as hard as we can, for two games. That's it."
Here are three keys to victory for the Giants on "Sunday Night Football" in Minnesota:
1. WRAP UP NO. 28
No one in the NFL has carried the ball more times (286) than Minnesota's Adrian Peterson this season, and no one has more rushing yards (1,314) than the running back who was just named to his seventh Pro Bowl. As he also looks for his third NFL rushing title, Peterson is the main the focus of the Vikings' offense, and the Giants are hoping to keep up their success against the feature back. In four career games against Big Blue, Peterson has rushed for more than 100 yards just once. He notched 103 in a victory over the Giants in the 2008 regular-season finale. In the other three, he rushed for 54, 26, and 28 yards.
"'Multiple-wrap tacklers' is how we said it," defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. "To get this guy on the ground, it's not just one guy, it takes multiple. And I say multiple-wrap tacklers because it's not multiple run in there throw a shoulder pad, duck down low—you got wrap this guy up because he'll bounce, he'll spin, you guys have all seen it. He's a quality back."
2. RUN THE BALL
With wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.'s one-game suspension being upheld, the Giants need to fill the voids of 1,396 yards and 13 touchdowns. The good news is they have built momentum in the run game late in the season. Last week against a premier Carolina defense, Rashad Jennings broke the Giants' 14-game drought without a 100-yard rusher with 107, including a 38-yard touchdown run. Jennings has 188 yards in the last two weeks. In the two games before those, he had 28. Meanwhile, the Giants will have to find the next man up after fullback Nikita Whitlock, who doubled as a defensive tackle, was placed on injured reserve this week with a knee injury.
"We have plenty of big people that can block, so we're going to use all hands on deck like we always do," offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. "And we'll have a plan for it."
As Coughlin said, the Vikings play a good brand of football, and "they do not beat themselves." If the Giants did the same, they could be looking at a much different record this season and not need to scoreboard watch in the last two weeks to stay alive in the postseason hunt. Including the 38-35 loss last week to the undefeated Panthers, the Giants have lost six games after they were leading or tied with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
"I'm still trying to deal with that and understand it," quarterback Eli Manning said this week. "Just going back and watching the Carolina film, I saw all the games on the computer screen. And you just go down each one, starting with Dallas, and how many opportunities we had, and how many games we lost on either the last play of the game, on a field goal made or a field goal missed, or on a play within seconds of the game being over and how many close ones there are.
"I feel like every game has been that way. Every game we've had an opportunity, we've had a lead and lost it, or maybe we were behind and fought back and just ran out of time. So I think we are a good team. We just haven't been good enough to win some of these games."
Playmakers on the Vikings first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike