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Victory in Philly a Much Sweeter Scenario for Giants’ Playoff Berth

Odell Beckham Jr and Eli Manning (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Odell Beckham Jr and Eli Manning (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

 

Giants-Eagles. Always a great rivalry game in the NFL. This matchup has much more implications, particularly in the Giants’ corner. With a playoff berth looming, the Giants can take the simpler and more satisfying route to clinch. That route is to defeat the Eagles this Thursday Night to earn their first playoff berth in five years.

After their Super Bowl XLVI victory in 2012 against the New England Patriots, the Giants were never able to return to the playoffs to defend their crown. This is a new situation for the Giants, as their newly revamped team have gotten over the hurdles from earlier in the season to have a well-oiled machine heading into Week 16. Even with a playoff berth on the line, the Giants’ are treating this game as any other game they have played in this season.

“It’s just something to talk about,” said Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “…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’s one game at a time,” said Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. “It’s a good opportunity for us but we really just have to lock in and focus. It’s such a short week. We haven’t beat Philly at Philly in two years. I don’t know how long it’s been. We need to come out and put our best foot forward.”

The Giants were victorious in their first matchup against the Eagles at MetLife Stadium, winning 28-23. It was a very close game, where both sides of the ball shined for the Giants. Defensively, the Giants were able to stop the offense from converting on multiple fourth down conversions, which is one of the key factors into why the Giants were able to come out of that game with the victory. This Thursday night will be a much different matchup, as the Eagles will get back star offensive tackle Lane Johnson. Johnson is returning from a ten game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. With his return and the weeks to prepare after their Week 9 matchup, this makes for a much different game.

“The Eagles team, they’re getting healthy up front on the offensive line,” said McAdoo. “That’s something that they definitely have going for them. Their defensive line is playing well. So it will be a challenge for us on both lines of scrimmage.”

The Giants’ defense is a strong piece to the puzzle of earning a postseason berth. The Giants defense is allowing 17.9 points per game (3rd in NFL) and 250 total points surrendered (3rd in NFL). When looking back at their last two games against the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, the Giant have not surrendered a touchdown in seven straight quarters, a truly impressive feat for Big Blue.

“Good defense fits together like nuts and bolts,” said McAdoo. “I’ve said it before and I believe it. I think we have talented players who believe in doing their job and their job only. They’re talented men of integrity. They’re not chasing stats out there, they’re just looking to play good defense and get off the field.”

The Giants are keeping an eye on top cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who took a nasty hit in last Sunday’s matchup against the Lions. When going for a tackle on Lions tight end Eric Ebron, Jenkins misjudged the trajectory of his tackle and collided with cornerback Trevin Wade, causing him to leave the game with a bruised back. Jenkins is an integral part of the defense, but the Giants are going to keep an eye on his progression and not rush him back.

“…I am just going to keep progressing every single day,” said Jenkins. “…trying to get better, staying on top of my treatment and staying focused.”

This matchup is very emotional for Giants receiver Victor Cruz. Cruz is returning to Philadelphia for the first time since tearing his patellar tendon two years ago. The image of Cruz screaming and clutching his knee is still a frightening image stuck in Giants fans’ memories. Cruz still has that memory as well, but he is ready to move on and make more positive memories in Lincoln Financial Field.

“That right corner of the end zone down there was a place where it all kind of restarted for me,” said Cruz. “…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 walk into the team facility and look at the trophy case. Next to the four Lombardi trophies, there is an empty space, reserved for the franchise’s fifth Lombardi Trophy. The first step in doing that is to defeat the Eagles and clinch that all important playoff berth.

“It’s a big motivation especially when you realize that you have the team to do it,” said Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “You have the coaches, the guys and the organization that spent some time and got everything together. The main thing is just you don’t want to be a letdown. You go out there and fight harder to do that.”

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