8:00 PM ET, December 30, 2006
FedEx Field, Landover, MD
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 Sunday night.
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 Saturday.
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, last month.
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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Giants must make stand
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.
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|Avg Points Allowed||22.6||23.5|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NYG|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NYG|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|NY Giants leads 8-4|
|Oct 8, 2006||NYG 19, WSH 3|
|Dec 24, 2005||NYG 20, @WSH 35|
|Oct 30, 2005||NYG 36, WSH 0|
|Dec 5, 2004||NYG 7, @WSH 31|
|Sep 19, 2004||NYG 20, WSH 14|
|Dec 7, 2003||NYG 7, WSH 20|
|Sep 21, 2003||NYG 24, @WSH 21|
|Dec 8, 2002||NYG 27, @WSH 21|
|Nov 17, 2002||NYG 19, WSH 17|
|Oct 28, 2001||NYG 21, @WSH 35|
|Oct 7, 2001||NYG 23, WSH 9|