Making playoffs with a week to spare gives Giants options
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Making the playoffs with a week to spare has given rookie coach Ben McAdoo and the New York Giants options heading into the regular-season finale against Washington Redskins.
The Giants (10-5) are locked into the No. 5 seed in the NFC. They are going to open the postseason on the road against the lowest-seeded division winner.
If McAdoo wants, he can either rest any of his nicked-up players or limit their playing time with a token appearance at Washington.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins might benefit from another week off after sitting out the Giants' loss to Philadelphia on Thursday night with a back injury. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison (knee) also could use the rest.
It might even be a chance for Eli Manning to relax after throwing a franchise-record 63 passes in the loss to the Eagles. He's started 198 consecutive games and has been hit a lot this season.
McAdoo could also use the game as a chance to get his offense going. Despite gaining a season-high 470 yards and 24 first downs against Philadelphia, the Giants scored 19 points. They haven't hit 30 this season.
''My take is to play,'' Manning said Monday. ''I think to go in there, play well and try to find a good rhythm offensively going against a team in the division, a team you know well and they know us. I think that's the mindset. Until I'm told differently, that's how I'm taking it.''
The Giants were in a similar situation in the final regular-season game against the undefeated 2007 New England Patriots. Tom Coughlin played the game to win. New York lost 38-35, but it showed the team it could compete against the best.
A little more than a month later, the Giants beat the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.
''I think you've got to play good football in the playoffs,'' Manning said. ''You're going to be going against good teams. You've got to play smart and you've just got to make the plays that are there. We have that capability of scoring points and moving the ball and converting on third downs and doing all the right things offensively. We're just going to have to make the plays on game day.''
While the offense has struggled, the defense has carried the team, particularly in recent wins over the top-seeded Cowboys and the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions, giving up a total of 13 points.
Linebacker Jonathan Casillas said that with the exception of safety Landon Collins, most of the players on defense rotate during the course of a game. So they do get rest.
Like Manning, he said whatever McAdoo decides to do is fine with him. He believes that the defense is playing well, but can improve.
''There has been a lot of good, a little bad there, but a lot to learn from, and we have been a collective group that has gotten better and has progressed throughout the season,'' he said. ''I am looking forward to doing the same, especially finishing this week against a tough rival in the Washington Redskins, finishing up the regular season and then propelling us to the playoffs.''
One factor to motivate the Giants this week is that they lost to Washington at home this season, their only blemish at MetLife Stadium in 2016.
Neither Manning nor Casillas had a preference for an opponent in the wild-card game. The options are Detroit, Green Bay, Atlanta and Seattle.
New York lost to Green Bay and beat Detroit. The Giants did not face either the Falcons or Seahawks this season.
Manning said there are benefits to having played an opponent, but he added the Giants will be ready for their first playoff appearance in five seasons.
Just getting there this season has been a fight.
''Things have got to go your way and you've got to win close football games, you've got to catch some breaks, and it's not easy,'' Manning said. ''It's not easy to make the playoffs, and you kind of see that with how many teams that are still on the bubble this weekend, good teams. It's a great tribute to the way we've played this season and found ways to wins football games.''
NOTES: Casillas sent a thank you tweet to the Saints - his old team - after they beat the Bucs to get New York into the postseason. ''I think the New Orleans Saints retweeted it, as a matter of fact. It said, `Thank you. From the playoff bound Giants.'''
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