Here are the storylines to follow as the Giants prep for their Week 17 matchup vs. Washington:
1. THEY'RE IN
For the first time since winning Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants are bound for the postseason. Despite losing to Philadelphia last Thursday night, the team clinched one of six spots in the NFC playoffs when New Orleans defeated Tampa Bay on Christmas Eve. Big Blue is now locked into the fifth seed and will play a wild card game against the Packers, Lions, Seahawks or Falcons.
But first the Giants must wrap up the regular season with a road game against the Redskins, who can still make the postseason with a victory, so long as Green Bay vs. Detroit does not end in a tie. Washington can also get in with all of the following: a tie against the Giants, a Green Bay loss, and a Tampa Bay loss or tie.
"Obviously it was exciting when the Saints won and knew that we were in the playoffs," quarterback Eli Manning said. "That was a good moment, that we were in. Got to enjoy the weekend, made the weekend a little bit better knowing that we were in the playoffs and enjoyed the holidays and Christmas with family. It's not about just getting into the playoffs. The mindset is to come back to work this week and finish the regular season strong and feel like we have a good thing going into the playoffs."
2. WHO'S NEXT?
After a 7-1 season at home, the fifth-seeded Giants will hit the road in the postseason, beginning with a trip to either Green Bay (9-6), Detroit (9-6), Seattle (9-5-1) or Atlanta (10-5). The NFC North title will be determined in the 256th and final game of the 2016 NFL season when the Packers visit the Lions on Sunday night. Before then, the Seahawks play on the road against the 49ers (2-13), and the Falcons host the Saints (7-8).
"Well, from my experience, you have to take whatever comes to you," said linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who previously won Super Bowl XLIV with the Saints and Super Bowl XLIX with the Patriots. "I feel like if you say something like, 'I don't want to play outside' or 'I would rather play indoors', 'in the south' and 'we played them and they are a familiar opponent' but then if you end up indoors and you wanted to be outdoors, which is not likely, but if you wanted to be indoors and then you end up outdoors in the cold in Green Bay, then you might feel like, 'Oh, snap.' It is like you are mentally defeating yourself before it happens.
"So I feel like as a team and as a unit, we should embrace whoever we get Week 1 or for the Wild Card and whoever we get, we embrace it with open arms and just be thankful that we had an opportunity to play in the game, no matter where it is at."
3. PLAYING TO WIN
The outcome of Sunday's game won't help or hurt the Giants in terms of seeding, but the objective won't change. If you put any game in front of Ben McAdoo, who became the fourth coach in franchise history to lead his team to the playoffs in his first season, he's going to try win it. That means no rest until there is nothing left on the schedule, which the Giants hope isn't until February.
"[We] are not bringing guys in from some other place and having a replacement team," said left guard Justin Pugh, who will play in his first postseason game since the Giants drafted him in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. "We have to go out there and play good football. You only have so many guys that can go into the game, so I am not going into this game preparing as if I am going to get pulled out because there is not really anyone to go in for us, so we have to make sure that we are ready to go."
Added Pugh: "I think that if you went in assuming that you weren't going to play, you would be putting yourself in a bad position."
4. INJURY REPORT
Recently named to his first Pro Bowl, Janoris Jenkins did not play against the Eagles because of a back injury that he suffered in Week 16 against Detroit. Jenkins traveled with the team and worked out for the medical staff on the field before the game in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle), safety Nat Berhe (concussion) and offensive tackle Will Beatty (lower leg) were inactive last week. Rookie linebacker B.J. Goodson is in the NFL concussion protocol.
5. FINAL TUNE-UP
While the Giants have climbed from 30th to third in scoring defense over the course of a year, they have gone from sixth to 25th on offense and have yet to put more than 28 points on the scoreboard. They've shown flashes throughout the season, including last week when they outgained the Eagles, 470-286, in total yards while Manning passed for 356 yards on a franchise-record 63 passing attempts. But turnovers have been a chronic problem in 2016. Maybe things will be different in 2017.
"I think I'm looking forward to having a great week of preparation and go out there and play a game and continue to work and see," said Manning. "I feel like we've been close offensively, just keep making strides and go play another game and try to get a win."
Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Redskins