EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It's getting to be big picture time in the NFL.
Teams certain to be in the playoffs are trying to discern where and whom they will play.
Those in contention are studying the permutations and memorizing what they must do and who can help them reach their postseason goal.
Those teams whose playoff hopes have already expired are plotting their offseason moves so they can join one of the first two groups next year.
The Giants are in Group 2, a team with legitimate postseason aspirations but no guarantees. Their 48-22 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday left them at 7-5-1 and tied with the Washington Commanders for the final two playoff positions in the NFC, a half-game ahead of the Seattle Seahawks. The Detroit Lions, winners of five of their last six games and with victories against both the Giants and Washington, lurk nearby.
Just eight days ago, the Giants and Commanders played to a 20-20 tie in MetLife Stadium. On Sunday night, they will meet in a rematch in FedExField that will have huge implications for each team's chance to play an 18th game. For that reason, the Giants are avoiding the big-picture deliberations and focusing only on this week's task.
Coach Brian Daboll was asked how he feels knowing the implications of the prime-time clash coming off yesterday's defeat to Philadelphia.
"I feel the same," Daboll said. "You're upset; you're not happy that you lost. But you have to get ready to play another game and quickly. Make the corrections that you need to make, whether that be coaching staff with the players. It's a long season; there's quite a bit of adversity throughout it. Maybe for some teams, it's in the beginning. For some teams, it's in the middle, and other teams, it's at the end. We're going through a little bit of it right now, and I think it's important to stay consistent, do the things that you need to do to try to win games with your preparation and practice. You explain that to your players, which I think they all understand. Again, whether it's the coaching staff or the players, they've tried to remain as consistent as you can be. And that takes some mental toughness throughout the year."
Those players who spoke today were on-message.
"I'm not really looking past Washington right now," said left tackle Andrew Thomas. "That's really my main focus. Any game we play, we want to win. Obviously, this one means a lot more. So, we're focused on getting this win. And we'll worry about the rest of this season after this game."
"Around this time in December, all games get critical," defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence said. "It's another division game that's a must-win because it's the next one, and you want to go 1-0. This game is a playoff game, and the next game will be one. It's just all taking it step by step."
When someone mentioned the tiebreakers that could come into play, Lawrence said, "I pay attention to who we play, and not really if this happens, then this happens. I just pay attention to who we play."
And how they play. The Giants admit they must produce at a higher level than what they did yesterday, when they trailed by 17 points at halftime and by 34 points before scoring a touchdown with 19 seconds remaining. They punted on each of their first four possessions, while the Eagles scored touchdowns the first three times they had the ball. Philadelphia ran for 253 yards, totaled 437 yards and scored six touchdowns.
The Giants spent Monday both reviewing what happened and pivoting toward Washington.
"We definitely looked at some particular plays that we have to get fixed because they'll usually show up again, and we looked at some things that were good," Daboll said. "They're meeting right now going through some of those things. And then we'll turn it pretty quickly to Washington. We just played them last week; they had a bye week. You got to turn it fairly quickly this time of year anyways."
Daboll was asked today if he ever thinks that a year from now the Giants will be more competitive with a team like the current Eagles.
"I don't," he said. "I live in the moment. Again, our moment is we didn't play or coach well enough yesterday. You don't make excuses; you own it. You take a look at the things you can get better at, and that's the approach. Those thoughts that you're talking about, that's for another time and another place. I'm focused on the here and the now.
"It's really about the week you're playing. I don't think you can make more or less out of each and every week. Obviously, we know this is a big week. Last week was a big week. So, our focus has to be on the things that we can control – which is the here and the now – and do the things that we need to do to give ourselves the best chance and then ultimately go out there and play well and coach well on Sunday."
View photos from the Giants' Week 14 game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium.
*Wide receiver Richie James, who took a shot to the head while catching the Giants' late touchdown pass, is in the NFL concussion protocol.
*Two rookies left the game with injuries: tight end Daniel Bellinger (ribs) and linebacker Micah McFadden (neck and ankle).
"I'd say Daniel's sore today," Daboll said. "He's pretty sore today, so we'll see how he goes during the week. McFadden's sore. They're all sore. (McFadden's) ankle. They're all sore."
*Several key players missed the game yesterday, including defensive lineman Leonard Williams (neck), cornerback Adoree' Jackson (knee), safety Xavier McKinney (hand) and guard Ben Bredeson (knee). Daboll said "too early to tell" if any of them will be able to play in Washington.