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Redskins matchup far from meaningless for Giants players


Despite already clinching the playoffs, the Giants are headed into Week 17 focused on getting the win:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants have heard it all week.

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Heard that they're going to finish second in the NFC East. That no matter what happens in Week 17, they're going to be seeded fifth in the NFC when the playoffs begin next week. That because of the previous two statements, their regular-season finale tomorrow in Washington is a relatively meaningless exercise. And with nowhere to go in the standings or the seedings, it might be prudent to rest the team's most valuable players to protect them from injury.

The Giants aren't buying any of it. To them, the game in FedEx Field is no different than the other 15 they've played, because it presents an opportunity to improve and a chance to walk off the field as winners. So before they learn the identity of their wild card round opponent, the Giants will do their best to defeat a Redskins team that gave them their only home defeat, and needs a victory to validate its own postseason ticket.

"We are putting the pedal to the metal," safety Landon Collins said. "We are playing it like a playoff game, treating it like a playoff game, and coming out and firing on all cylinders. That is our mindset and we are trying to get the W."

"It's a game you need because it's the next one," running back Rashad Jennings said. "It still counts. No player thinks about injuries. That's how players do get hurt. It's a privilege to play this game and go out every single week. Put it all out there on the line. That's how we're going to do it this weekend."

The players take their cue from coach Ben McAdoo, who has emphasized all week that what he wants from this game is the same he'd strive for in any other contest.

"A win," he said. "It's another opportunity to go out there and get better as a football team and to get a win in the division."

Besides, the Giants have their own incentive, and beating a division rival is always at the top of the list – especially when that opponent is responsible for your only home loss this season. Washington won, 29-27, on Sept. 25 in MetLife Stadium, where the Giants finished 7-1. And there's an added element this week – a Giants victory will eliminate the Redskins from the playoffs.

"We feel comfortable playing them," guard Justin Pugh said. "They are a good team. We know them, they know us. It is just like any other divisional game. It would be nice to knock them out. We are not their biggest fans and they are not our biggest fans, so to send them home would be pretty good for us."

The defense wants to build on its recent fine play (three touchdowns allowed in the last three games), while the offense is striving for the productivity and scoring that have been so elusive. The Giants have not scored 20 points in any of their last four games. Last week in Philadelphia, they lost 24-19, despite gaining 470 yards and converting 10 third down opportunities. But Eli Manning threw three interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, and the Giants kicked field goals on four of their five trips inside the red zone.

"We've won games, but we haven't put our best foot forward on offense," said lineman Marshall Newhouse. "That should be seen as a call to arms. Circle the wagons. Every cliché you can think of to get ready to make this run. I think that kind of looms over us, knowing that by no means are we where we want to be. That's our motivation to come out and use this as another, not tune up, but a way to test and see where we are and where we're heading."

"There have been so many instances where we've been our own worst enemy," said offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. "Some of the reasons we're not having those points we want to have is because we're turning it over or because we have that penalty at the absolute wrong time that sets us back. You have those flashes like we've all seen … in terms of taking an opening drive down and scoring, having a game where there's no turnovers, but then you have these other instances. I think we just focus more on those positives, knowing that the potential is there. It's not a matter of getting frustrated or throwing our hands up, it's just a matter of working harder."

The Giants would also like to enter the playoffs riding the energy from a victory, instead of carrying a two-game losing streak.

"I think that it is important that we get some momentum going into the playoffs, especially (after) losing last week," linebacker Devon Kennard said. "We want to get this one and we know that in their minds, it is a playoff game because, for them to get into the playoffs, they have to beat us. So we know what to expect from them and we expect the intensity to be a little higher than it has been. It is going to be a good test for us."

"We're going down to play a division rival, on the grass, in the elements and they're going to come out and try to kick our behinds," McAdoo said. "We need to go down there and we need to play good, sound, hard-nosed football."

These five players could make a key impact in Sunday's matchup with the Redskins

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