All season long, Giant fans have been dreading Week 17.
"What if we need the game and the Patriots are still undefeated?," went the thinking. "We'll be screwed."
But that's all moot now, as the Giants ran the Bills into the turf last Sunday to seal the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs, and can't better their lot with a victory nor worsen it with a loss.
The Patriots, on the other hand, are coming to New Jersey loaded for bear. They want to keep their record unblemished...and set some fairly meaningless NFL records to boot.
The Giants would love nothing more than to be the team that slams the Patriots to the floor. But doing that—if they're even capable of doing that—would entail much too much risk on the part of head coach Tom Coughlin.
Coughlin has little room for error in the Meadowlands these days. He needs to win a playoff game to assure his safe return to the Giants' sidelines next season—which means the G-Men have to rest any and all injured personnel this Saturday.
If the Giants try to take down the Pats, it could result in an injury to a key player—something they can hardly afford. Jeremy Shockey, Mathias Kiwanuka and Derrick Ward are already gone for the year. Countless others - specifcally Plaxico Burress and the safeties have been plagued by injuries for the better part of the season. By all accounts, Coughlin will keep many starters out of harm's way.
This is unfortunate for many who wish to see the Pats get beat in 2007—including the suddenly bitter 1972 Dolphins, who have shown very little respect for this New England team.Too bad it had to come to this—but this is the NFL we've created.
The game, which was originally to be televised exclusively by NFL Network has been picked up by NBC and CBS for the broadcast television community. The Giants don't appear to be too concerned, having played 7 times on national television already this season. The addtional attention to the now historic game will do little to alter the Giants' approach.
So the Pats will get their undefeated season, barring the unpredictable. The Giants will live to play another day—in Tampa to be precise—and hopefully win a playoff game for Coughlin.
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