Christmas is coming, and a Giants playoff berth is on the horizon, but the Grinch is lurking over the next hill on New Year’s Day.
Josh Norman is on a team headed nowhere. Dan Snyder’s Washington Unmentionables have slunk almost completely out of playoff contention. Still, the loudmouth corner has one more opportunity to ruin Big Blue’s season in Week 17, if he says the right thing in Odell Beckham Jr.’s ear and starts another mini-riot that gets the Giants’ best player suspended for the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs.
This is the biggest reason the Giants (10-4) need to clinch a playoff berth now, either by beating the Philadelphia Eagles (5-9) on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field or having another contender lose or tie this weekend:
Ben McAdoo then could sit Beckham out of the Giants’ visit to Washington in their final regular season game, averting disaster by preemptively striking with the decision that most benefits Big Blue.
If Odell Beckham can repeat his two TD performance from the Giants first meeting with the Eagles then Big Blue can head into the final week without the stress of a Week 17 showdown vs. Washington.
The Giants, in fact, would clinch the NFC’s 5-seed by Monday night with a win in Philadelphia Thursday and a Dallas prime-time, Boxing Day win over Detroit that clinches a Cowboys NFC East title. So especially if the Giants cannot improve their postseason standing in Week 17, there is no reason to risk playing Beckham against Norman, his nemesis, or to risk his injury.
Beckham has been on good behavior lately and has been making all-world-level plays on the field. He just received his third Pro Bowl nomination in his first three years in the league. But he is constantly managing his ability to compete at his highest level while remaining in control.
Beckham reflected after last Sunday’s win over the Lions: “I have to do a better job of keeping myself under control knowing that everyone is watching, knowing that guys on my team are watching and looking at me. I have to make sure that I’m giving off the right energy and that I’m not giving off any bad energy.”
Then on Tuesday, Beckham said, “I’ve been going a pretty good job with” managing emotions “for the most part.” But he added, “There’s never gonna be that part of me that loses who I am and that intensity. I’ve tried it before and I can’t really live with myself that way.”
Norman brought out the worst in Beckham as a Carolina Panther last season, dragging the Giants receiver into an all-out free-for-all that led to a one-game suspension for Beckham the next week in Minnesota. Beckham never completely will escape the repercussions to his reputation of his episode at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 20, 2015.
McAdoo and the Giants, however, can learn from it and play Week 17 safe if they are able. There are just a lot of moving pieces that will determine if their game in Washington means something or not.
Ben McAdoo would be wise to sit his star wide receiver if the Giants clinch a playoff spot this week.
(Al Bello/Getty Images)
Beckham will have to play against Washington, for example, if the Giants beat the Eagles on Thursday and Dallas loses to Detroit on Monday night. In that scenario, the NFC East still would be up for grabs.
The Giants can win the division for the first time since 2011 if they win out and the Cowboys lose out to the Lions and the Eagles. In that unlikely scenario, the Giants also would clinch a first-round bye for the first time since Tom Coughlin’s 2008 team (which then lost to Philly in the divisional round).
Although, both the Giants’ and Cowboys’ Week 17 games are scheduled to kick off 1 p.m. New Year’s Day. And if the NFL were to flex the Giants-Washington game to a Sunday Night start and Dallas beat the Eagles at 1 p.m., McAdoo also would have no incentive to play Beckham.
Odell Beckham’s infamous meltdown against Josh Norman in 2015 is still a sore subject for Giants.
If the Giants beat the Eagles on Thursday night, though, Big Blue is guaranteed to finish no lower than fifth in the NFC behind the four division winners. Here’s why: The only wild-card-eligible teams that could catch an 11-win Giants team would be the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) and Lions (9-5), and the Giants own the head-to-head tiebreaker on Detroit, while an 11-win Falcons team would win the NFC South.
Beckham is the Giants’ most important player. They have won eight of nine games and have earned this advantageous position to potentially make the shrewdest of season-savings decisions. That would be to sit No. 13 in Week 17 and prevent Norman from spoiling Big Blue’s run for Super Bowl No 5.
EVEN IF THEY LOSE IN PHILLY…
Back page of the New York Daily News for September 25, 2016.
(New York Daily News)
The Giants also would clinch a playoff berth this weekend with a Falcons loss or a loss or tie by any one of the following teams: the Lions, Green Bay Packers or Bucs.
Punter Brad Wing on Wednesday became the first Giants player ever to win back-to-back Special Teams Player of the Week awards. Wing’s distance and placement have been excellent. The offense has helped with its Wing-and-a-Prayer strategy of handing Wing (82) the second most punts in the NFL behind only San Francisco’s Bradley Pinion (85) – on a team with a 1-13 record – and the Rams’ Johnny Hecker (83) – on a 4-10 team that already fired head coach Jeff Fisher. Yes, the Giants’ defense has been that good.
INCREDIBLE SNACKS SNUB
Maybe sack stats really are “for losers,” as McAdoo said earlier this season. Big-money Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (14 games, 37 tackles, 23 solo, 6.5 sacks, two passes defended, one forced fumble) made the Pro Bowl on a disappointing defense playing for a 5-9 team. The Eagles surrender 4.3 yards per rush, 21st in the NFL. Meanwhile, big-money Giants tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison (80 tackles, 49 solo, 1.5 sacks, one pass defended, one forced fumble) did not make the Pro Bowl leading one of the NFL’s best defenses on a 10-4 team. The Giants’ D surrenders 3.6 yards per rush, third in the league. Waiting for an explanation.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News