NY Giants (7-8) at Washington (5-10) Saturday 8:00 pm EST
LANDOVER, Maryland (Ticker) -- The New York Giants have lost six
of their last seven games and coach Tom Coughlin appears to be
on the hot seat. Yet the Giants still are in the driver's seat
for a playoff spot.
New York can virtually clinch the last wild-card spot with a win
over the Washington Redskins on Saturday night.
The Giants are one of five 7-8 teams in the NFC, but hold the
tiebreaker advantage over all of them. Only a
strength-of-victory tiebreaker with the Green Bay Packers could
cost New York a playoff berth.
And the Giants will clinch the strength-of-victory tiebreaker if
Detroit or Minnesota loses on Sunday. That will not even come
into play if the Giants win and the Packers lose at Chicago on
New York can even make the playoffs with a 7-9 record if Green
Bay, Atlanta, Carolina and St. Louis lose on Sunday.
This is not what the Giants expected when they went 6-2 in the
first half of the season. But now the Giants are facing the
wrath of the fans for their second-half collapse that somehow
may still end in a playoff berth.
"It's amazing," Giants cornerback Sam Madison said. "We had
everything in our hands and held our own destiny. Every time we
just let it slip away."
Coughlin heard chants of "Fire Coughlin" after last week's 30-7
loss to New Orleans.
The Giants looked like anything but a playoff team. New Orleans
rushed for 236 yards while holding the Giants to 142 total
yards and six first downs. New York did not even take a snap in
New Orleans territory for the entire game.
Tiki Barber, the Giants' all-time leading rusher who will retire
after the season, accounted for more than half of the offense
in his final home game, rushing for 71 yards on 16 carries and
catching three passes for 12 yards.
Eli Manning was completely confounded by the Saints' defense,
completing just 9-of-25 passes for 74 yards with an
interception. He threw for just 19 yards after completing a
55-yard touchdown to Plaxico Burress 2:17 into the game.
Seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan returned for
the Giants after missing the last six games with a sprained foot
ligament and recorded five tackles and deflected a pass, but
was held without a sack.
Strahan also appeared to reinjure his foot in the third quarter
and hobbled off the field. He is listed as questionable for
The Redskins will finish in last place in the NFC East after
making the playoffs last season as a wild card under Joe Gibbs,
who will return as coach next season with Al Saunders and Gregg
Williams remaining as the coordinators.
The Giants posted a 19-3 victory over the Redskins on October 8.
But Mark Brunell was the quarterback then for Washington. Gibbs
made the switch to Jason Campbell, a first-round pick in 2005,
Washington's Ladell Betts surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for the
first time in his five-year career. Since signing a five-year
extension, Betts has rushed for 419 yards in three games.
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This is a tough NFC East matchup that has playoff implications. The Giants are still in the playoff hunt after losing badly to the Saints, but will need to play with a purpose against the Redskins if they have any hope for postseason play. They dominated this Redskins team earlier in the year but the Giants have been plagued with injuries, finger pointing by all and bad play-calling since then.
The Redskins are playing for pride right now with Joe Gibbs emphasizing the importanance of finishing the season strong. The Redskins will play hard because they realize that if they can win this game they will keep the Giants home for the playoffs. If the Giants lose, head coach Tom Coughlin could ne out.