During the Giants Week 17 contest against Washington, it seems as though Ben McAdoo is going to start his regular players.
While you have to respect the fact that the Giants are going all out and trying to win the game that they have nothing to gain, logic says they should rest their key players. The Giants are locked into the fifth seed, so whether they win, lose or tie on Sunday won’t have any bearing on their seeding.
This is similar to the scenario in 2007 when the Giants were 10-5 and played the undefeated New England Patriots in Week 17. As we all know, the Giants fought hard but lost that game 38-35. They would ride the momentum from that game into the playoffs and eventually defeat the mighty Pats five weeks later in Super Bowl XLII.
But there are a few differences between this year’s Giants team and the 2007 squad.
For one, the 2007 team had a chance of doing special things in ending the Patriots hopes of an undefeated regular season. The second is the 2007 team was much deeper more balanced than this year’s team and an injury to a key player would not be as catastrophic as it would be this year.
In 2007, the Giants had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and could move the ball on the ground with Brandon Jacobs or Ahmad Bradshaw, or passing it to Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, or Steve Smith. This year’s Giants team has struggled all year running the football, and the only way they’ve been able to move the ball on a consistent basis is when they throw the ball to Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham accounts for 25.95% of the Giants’ offense this season. They cannot afford him getting injured or lose his temper for a moment and take a swing at his rival Josh Norman and get suspended for a game. Yes, Beckham has a chance to lead the NFL in receiving yards, but the Giants are about winning Super Bowls, not leading the league in an individual category.
The Giants can’t risk losing OBJ next week in the Wild Card round.
Coach McAdoo and the #Giants not thinking about the playoffs – focus is on winning this week in Washington.
— New York Giants (@Giants) December 29, 2016
Another Giant that McAdoo should steer clear from on Sunday is defensive end Olivier Vernon.
Vernon has been playing through nagging injuries all season, yet still leads the team in sacks with 8.5. With Jason Pierre-Paul out after sports hernia surgery, Vernon is the only top notch pass rusher the Giants have. This is far different than in 2007 when the Giants had Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck. So if one of them were to go down due to injury, the Giants still would have had a solid pass rush.
If Vernon were to get injured against Washington and be unavailable next week, the Giants would face either the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions or Seattle Seahawks without a defensive lineman that has more than three sacks.
McAdoo has to start Eli Manning to keep his 198 consecutive game streak going, but should sit him after a few series. Many forget that Manning suffered an ankle injury in the season finale of the 2013 season against Washington that required offseason surgery. Giants can’t afford for history to repeat itself. It will be hard to imagine the Giants winning a postseason game with Josh Johnson as the starting quarterback.
When you weigh the pros and cons of playing the key players as oppose to resting them, the results are obvious. Other Giants that should sit are guard Justin Pugh, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and safety Landon Collins.
This is the first time in five years that the Giants have been back in the postseason. They can’t take this opportunity for granted and jeopardize an injury that could derail their chances of making it to Super Bowl LI. Eli Manning is in the twilight of his career and the Giants will have to make important decisions in the offseason regarding free agency.
Who knows when the Giants will make it back to the playoffs.
Sit the key players and see how the backups perform against a Redskins team that’s fighting for a playoff berth.
Former New York Jets and Kansas City Chief head coach Herman Edwards once famously said, “You play to win the game”.
Well, you can play to win a regular season finale without risking injuries to key players that prevent you from winning the ultimate goal which is a Super Bowl.
That’s the ultimate goal: playing to win the big game.