*The Giants can clinch their first playoff berth since 2011 with a win over the Eagles Thursday Night: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants haven't played a game like this in five years.
On Thursday night, the Giants will secure a postseason berth if they defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in Lincoln Financial Field. It is their first win-and-in game since Jan. 1, 2012, when they hosted the Dallas Cowboys in the 2011 season finale. That was substantially different than this game, because the winner would capture the NFC East title and the loser would see its season end. The Giants won, 31-14, and went on to win Super Bowl XLVI.
Regardless of the outcome in Philly, the Giants can still secure a spot in the playoffs if just one of the following teams lose this week: Detroit, Atlanta, Green Bay or Tampa Bay.
But the Giants don't intend to let it come to that. They want to take care of their own business. All the players are excited for this opportunity, but it is particularly special for the 38 players on the roster who have never been to the playoffs.
"It's exciting, because I already feel like this is a playoff run for us, anyway," said Pro Bowl special teamer Dwayne Harris. "Every week is a playoff game for us right now. We take it one game at a time every week. This game means a lot. It's a division game and a rival game. I think this is a big game for us. I think we want to take it as a playoff game, play it as a playoff game and go out to try and win."
"Clinching or not clinching, I think Thursday we have full intentions of coming out and putting our best foot forward," said another Pro Bowler, wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. "Obviously, the goal is to win. With the outcome of winning, it would be great as far as us clinching. The main focus is to win a football game and the rest would take care of itself. That's really where our mind's at. We have a tough challenge ahead. This has always been a good game. It's two rival teams, so it should be a good matchup."
The Giants have put themselves in position with their current eight-wins-in-nine-games streak. They are 10-4 and own the No. 1 wild card in the NFC. They can still capture the NFC East title if they win their final two and Dallas loses its last two games (including the finale in Philly).
But the Eagles will make it as difficult for them as they possibly can. They don't want the Giants clinching anything on their home turf. Philadelphia might have rediscovered its formula for success last week, when it ran for 168 yards on 39 carries in a 1-point loss in Baltimore. The Giants' defense has been superb – one touchdown allowed in 26 Dallas and Detroit possessions the last two weeks – but the Eagles will challenge them.
And then there's the Philly factor. There's no avoiding the fact that the Giants have played poorly there. This is the third consecutive season the Giants' annual game in Philly will be played in prime time. Two years ago, it was a Sunday night. The return visit last year was on a Monday night. Combined score: Eagles 54, Giants 7.
"You know their crowd is going to be into it," said Harris, who played his first four seasons in Dallas, so he is very familiar with the wild gatherings in the Linc. "They know what's at stake, and they're trying to knock us off. I know that crowd down there is brutal. Playing in Philly is brutal already but with the crowd, they're into it. I know the players are into it, too. For us, we just have to feed off of their energy and play our game."
"It will be important for us to control the ball, and try to get the crowd out of the game early," center Weston Richburg said.
Coach Ben McAdoo has refused to publicly discuss the possibility of clinching the Giants' first playoff berth in five years. His focus has been solely on preparing the team to play a game on a short week, and he wants his players doing the same. The players have accepted their marching orders, but they also know the reward that awaits if they can defeat their longtime rivals.
"It would be huge (to clinch)," guard Justin Pugh said. "Obviously, we have two division games left (including the finale in Washington), and when you are going against those types of opponents, we are always going to play each other tough. So we know it is going to be a tough environment. We haven't been successful down in Philadelphia in these prime time games the past two seasons, so it is a big challenge for us. It is a short week, we have to focus in, lock in and get ready to go.
"Obviously, we want to clinch this week. There is a lot going on this week, Christmas is right around the corner, it is a Thursday game, everything is a little bit different, different schedules, so it is just making sure that we are locked in to go in there and play some good football."
"It's really exciting," said linebacker Devon Kennard. "It makes it important. We want to knock that out and get into the playoffs immediately. It's a Thursday game, quick turnaround. We're excited for the opportunity. We have to go out there and really execute. We know the Eagles are going to make it hard on us."
The Giants have to make it hard on them, and earn their spot in the postseason tournament.
A look at the expected starters for the Giants' Week 16 opponent