It is almost, but not completely, impossible at this point for the New York Giants to miss the playoffs. The Giants remove all doubt by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night, thereby clinching their first playoff berth since 2011.
I think they will.
During the most recent “Big Blue Chat” podcast, co-host Pat Traina asked me what I thought were the keys to this Giants-Eagles matchup. I could have broken down matchups, talked about the Giants’ offense, or discussed the impact on the Giants of the losses of Jason Pierre-Paul, Janoris Jenkins and Shane Vereen.
Instead, I answered that Thursday night is all about the Giants’ mentality. Will they bring the resolve, the determination that has been such a big part of their success this season? Or, will they relax ever so slightly and let the hostile environment at Lincoln Financial Field affect them?
Coach Ben McAdoo deflected playoff-related questions this week, saying that talking about the playoffs “doesn’t register at this point.”
“Doesn't have anything to do with the game on Thursday night. We have to be ready to play a game on a short week Thursday night against a division rival,” he said. “It's just something to talk about, it's a distraction if you let it be. We need to be focused on the game on Thursday night, on getting ready to play Philadelphia. That's what this week is all about.”
It might register for players, especially one like fourth-year player Justin Pugh who has never been to the playoffs. Pugh and his teammates, though, appear to be buying in and doing their best to keep their focus on beating the Eagles.
“It would be huge (to clinch),” 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.”
The Giants are the better of the two teams playing Thursday night. The Eagles are home and will want to perform well against a division rival. The Giants, though, have more riding on the outcome and I don’t think they will allow this opportunity to slip away.
Final score: Giants 31, Eagles 17