The New York Giants made made it back to New Jersey yesterday after being an extended stay in Appleton Wisconsin, due to the blizzard which dumped two feet of snow on the New York City area. After losing a crucial game to the Green Bay Packers 45-17 on Sunday, the team finally landed at Newark International Airport a full day and half later than scheduled, then later watched the Minnesota Vikings stun the Philadelphia Eagles 24-14. Ironically, the Eagles loss could have put the final nail in the Giants playoff chances.
The challenges facing the Giants in their quest for a wild card playoff spot are mostly out of their hands now. The Bears can move up to the No. 1 seed if they win and the current top seed, the Atlanta Falcons, lose to the 2-13 Carolina Panthers.
The Bears play Sunday at 4:15 p.m., so when the team takes the field they should know the outcome of the Falcons-Panthers 1 p.m. game and if the No. 1 seed is still up for grabs. If the Falcons clinch the No. 1 and home field advantage throughout, do the Bears still go all out or do they pull a Colts and rest the starters?
Right after the Vikings victory, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs tweeted," Let's just hope Chicago play their starters. But it's always good to see Philly lose. DAMN."
'Maybe the Giants starters should just play' would be a common lament from New York fans
A couple of other factors could affect the Giants destiny---the one night Wisconsin layover and the second straight hangover from another disappointing loss. Head coach Tom Coughlin claims his staff would be about a half a day behind schedule from the delay.
The Giants players heads could be a different story. The last two "playoff clinching games" included blowing a 31-10 lead to the Eagles in the fourth quarter combined with the 45-17 blowout to the Packers. They could be worse than a New Year's Day headbanger that all the Players Only meetings and Guaranteed Victories won't cure.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith said he plans on playing his starters but, it remains to be seen if he uses them the whole game. Seeing a win by the Falcons before gametime could take away a lot of the Bears' motivation.
Leave it to their old nemesis the Eagles to kick more dirt in the Giants' face. New York has lost six in a row to Philadelphia including two this season already. If, and that is a gargantuan if, the Giants do slip into the playoffs, the road will most certainly run down the Turnpike through the unfriendly confines of Lincoln Financial Field and a third meeting with the Birds. Not a pleasant road trip.
A lot more than the Giants playoff hopes are riding on this game. If the Giants lose this Sunday at Fed Ex Field to the dreadful 6-9 Washington Redskins, the cries for Coughlin's head could get to Metrodome levels. Offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride could also see his scalp on a stick. Another December failure could lead to wholesale changes on the Giants. Can you say Bill Cowher.
It was only a couple of weeks ago the Giants were 9-4, leading the Eagles 31-10 with eight minutes to go. The NFC East title and fate were in their grasp. It seems a lot longer than that now.