The New York Giants (4-11) and Chicago Bears (5-10) won't be playing for a spot in the postseason when they meet on Sunday, but don't tell coach Joe Judge the game is meaningless.
"We all lost John Madden [this week]," Judge said. "One thing John Madden was great about when you really sit back and you listen to some of the things that he said throughout his career, and he talked about the importance of every game and every opportunity in the National Football League, and the value of the opportunity that we have to coach or play in this league. None of that should be taken for granted. I hear people all the time say 'meaningless games.' What is a meaningless game? Everyone here has worked very hard to be in this position, to play or coach in this league. We're only guaranteed or promised so many games a year. It's a privilege to have the opportunity to go out here and compete. There's no such thing as a meaningless game. There's wasted effort, there's wasted preparation, but there are no meaningless games."
With two games left in the season, here are three keys to victory for the Giants on Sunday:
Take it away
Following a season-high four takeaways in Week 12 against Philadelphia (their third win in five games at that point), the Giants have forced just one turnover over the last four weeks – all losses. The offense, meanwhile, has turned it over nine times during the streak. The Giants should have the edge, though, on Sunday. Only Jacksonville (minus-19) has a worse turnover differential than Chicago (minus-13) heading into Week 17. The Bears have just 12 takeaways this season (third-fewest in the league) while turning over the ball over 25 times (tied for third-most).
Throw them off balance
Like the Giants, the Bears have started three different quarterbacks this season: rookie Justin Fields (10 starts) and veterans Nick Foles (1) and Andy Dalton (4). All the while, they have remained one of the more balanced teams in the NFL with a play selection that includes a 45.5 rush percentage, eighth-highest in the league. Even if they don't get overwhelming yardage, they are 5-2 when they rush at least 29 times. They are 0-8 when they do not hit that marker.
"When you talk about his team, one thing is they're balanced," Judge said. "They do a very good job being run and pass balanced. They're very committed to the run. You see a lot of effectiveness in how they can go ahead and stay with it and set up other aspects of their game. They have three talented quarterbacks. All three have played this year. All three can make plays in different ways."
No margin for error
Sunday will be the fifth meeting between the Giants and Bears in six years. The historic rivals have split the previous four games with a point differential of … zero. From penalties to big plays to special teams, the Giants can't afford to make mistakes with an offense averaging 11.5 points per game since the bye week.
View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Chicago Bears ahead of their Week 17 matchup.