The Giants are in Philadelphia to face the 5-9 Eagles on Thursday night in what many are calling their biggest game since Super Bowl XLIV. A win will give the Giants their first postseason berth since 2011 and their best record through 15 games (11-4) since 2008, when they started 12-3.
“Clinching or not clinching, I think Thursday we have full intentions of coming out and putting our best foot forward,” said Pro Bowl 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.”
Beckham is one of the many Giants who have not experienced the postseason in Giants Blue. There are only six players on the current roster remaining from the last team that qualified for the postseason: QB Eli Manning, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, LB Mark Herzlich, LS Zak DeOssie, OT Will Beatty and WR Victor Cruz.
“It would be huge (to clinch),” said left guard Justin Pugh, who returned last week after missing five games with a knee injury. “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.”
The Giants defeated the Eagles, 28-23, at MetLife Stadium on Nov 6 when QB Eli Manning passed for 257 yards & 4 TDs. Two of those TDs went to Beckham. But this game tends to be different. The Giants have not fared well at Lincoln Financial Field. They are 6-8 at the Eagles’ current home venue and have lost their last two games there by a combined score of 54-7.
One Giants player who finds “The Linc” a personal house of horrors is Cruz, who will be returning to Philly for the first time since Oct 12, 2014, when he tore a patellar tendon and missed the next season and a half. Cruz said the emotions and memories will be hard to control on Thursday night.
“Absolutely,” Cruz said when asked about how he’ll deal with his return. “That right corner of the end zone down there was a place where it all kind of restarted for me, so obviously it will bring back some emotion and some memories, both good and bad obviously to be back out there, so I am excited for it, man. I am excited to go and make some new memories and some new thoughts to think about.”
The Giants are not taking this game lightly, especially since it is a divisional game being played on a short week. The Eagles may be on a five-game losing streak and have lost nine of their last 11, but they are still a dangerous team. Last Sunday, they dropped a one-point game against the Baltimore Ravens.
“The last thing you want to do is lose to a divisional rival, the last thing, especially at home,” head coach Ben McAdoo said. “We’re going to get their best shot; you can throw the records out the window. It’s going to be a physical game that will probably come down to the end like they all do. It’ll be exciting.”