The end of the New York Giants season saw a curious situation where they played several teams in very close succession.
The Giants played the Philadelphia Eagles in weeks 15 and 18, and the Washington Commanders twice in 14 days. It was a weird and difficult schedule, but it might have prepared them for the game against the Vikings.
This Sunday, the Giants will play the Vikings for the second time since Week 16, just 22 days between games.
“I think it’s a similar situation in that we’re playing them twice and so close together,” Giants QB Daniel Jones said. “So, I think there is some experience we can draw from that earlier this year and apply it to this situation. But each game’s different, each defense and how we’re game planning, how we’re attacking the defense is different. We’ll try to learn as much as we can from the first game. Use that for our preparation.
“But, you’ve got to understand that this game is going to be different. It’s going to play out differently. You can’t go in anticipating or trying to predict it to turn out a certain way just because it did last time. So, we’ll use our first game to our advantage and go in as prepared as possible.”
This is the first time many of the Giants’ players are in the post-season. However, they’re trying to avoid letting the moment get to them.
“As far as our prep and our practice, our meetings, how we go about things, we’re sticking to our routine and our process,” Jones said. “We’re trying to have the best Wednesday we can, and then we’re going to take that approach each day this week.”
But that sentiment aside, the Giants know that they were sitting home watching the playoffs this time last year.
“I think everyone understands where we are now,” Jones said. “We’re in the playoffs. We’re past the regular season.”
So while this just another game from a preparation stand-point, the Giants can’t escape the fact that there might not be another game next week.
“The games mean more from the sense that you lose, you go home,” Jones said. “So, people understand that. They understand what’s at stake. But the only way we’re going to play as well as we want to play is to prepare how we have all year, to trust our process and stick to that. So, that’s largely been the conversation amongst the guys.”
Fortunately, while players like Jones, Saquon Barkely, Dexter Lawrence, and Leonard Williams have never been to the NFL playoffs, the Giants do have some players who have playoff experience. Landon Collins went to the playoffs in 2016, Jihad Ward has been to the playoffs twice with the Baltimore Ravens, and Tyrod Taylor, Matt Breida, and Davis Webb have all been on teams that have gone to the playoffs.
Jones said that he is using those veterans, and the Giants’ coaches, as a resource to help mentally prepare for playoff football.
“I’ve spoken with some of the older guys, some of the coaches. A lot of guys talk about the speed of the game and that increasing in the playoffs and just how critical each play is. And it’s one or two plays here or there that’s going to make the difference. In a regular season game, maybe it’s a handful. But in the playoffs, these are good teams that you’re competing against. It’s one or two plays that’s going to make the difference. So, we understand that. We understand what’s at stake. We’re going to stick to what’s gotten us here. We’re going to stick to the routine, the preparation that we’ve been putting in.”
We’ve said since Brian Daboll’s decision to go for a two-point conversion in the first week of the season that the Giants are playing with “house money”. The new regime proved everything it needed to in the first five weeks of the season, and everything else has been gravy.
The feeling in the locker room is a bit different.
“I think we’re definitely not satisfied just to have made the playoffs,” Jone said. “That’s not how we see it as a group. We were confident in our team dating back to training camp and knew what we were able to accomplish. We’re by no means satisfied just to be in the playoffs. We expect to play well and to win. And that’s our expectation every week; that doesn’t change this week.”