The New York Giants have nothing to play for in Week 18. After a dominating 38-10 victory over the Colts in Week 17, the Giants officially clinched a playoff berth with a 9-6-1 record. Big Blue is locked in as the sixth seed in the NFC. With no room for improvement entering the regular season finale, the Giants could rest their starters to prepare for the postseason.
Should the Giants rest their starters in Week 18
New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll has given no indication whether or not he plans to rest his starters in Week 18. The Giants are scheduled to take on the Philadelphia Eagles on the road this Sunday afternoon. Philadelphia currently holds the first seed in the NFC and a win for them on Sunday would clinch them that position along with the NFC East title. A loss, however, could cause them to lose their coveted first-round bye in the postseason and fall as far as the fifth seed.
The Giants have a chance to play spoiler in Week 18. However, it could be argued that playing it safe is the better option. Big Blue has been banged up all season long. With one week left to go before the playoffs begin, the last thing the Giants need is a significant injury to a starting player. In order to prevent anything catastrophic from happening, the Giants could rest their starters in Week 18.
There is an argument for playing the starters, though. The Giants are in rhythm. Big Blue is on a roll and their momentum is strong after a blowout win over the Colts in Week 17. Taking the week off could cause some of the team’s most important players to lose their stride. If the starters go out there in Week 18 and continue to play at a high level, they can carry that momentum into the Wild Card round the following weekend.
New York could also gain a lot of knowledge from playing the Eagles in Week 18. In the 2007 regular season, the Giants closed the year off with a 35-38 loss to the New England Patriots who improved their record to 16-0 with the victory. The Giants in 2007, like the Giants today, had nothing to play for in that regular season finale. Still, the starters went out there and fought hard for sixty minutes, nearly beating the unbeaten Patriots. This gave the team all of the confidence in the world going into the postseason and it also gave the team the blueprint to eventually defeat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
The Giants could learn the blueprint to defeat the NFC’s first seed, the Eagles, by competing this Sunday. That could give them an edge heading into the postseason, especially if the Giants win on Sunday and knock Philadelphia into a lower seed.
The New York Giants will need to decide whether the long-term benefits of competing with the Eagles outweigh the potential immediate consequences of losing a key player to injury before the postseason.