Are the New York Giants going to rest starters — or at least some, if not most — against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 18?
Given how the Birds opened as and remained 13.5-point home favorites against the G-Men, the oddsmakers sure seem to think that’s the case. And they’re no dummies. Remember how the NFL MVP odds shifted dramatically and the Eagles-Cowboys spread swung in favor of Dallas prior to the news that Jalen Hurts could miss a couple of games with a shoulder injury? Probably not just a coincidence!
So far, the Giants have yet to reveal their approach.
Here’s what head coach Brian Daboll said right after Sunday’s win that clinched a playoff spot and locked them in to the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff picture:
Q: You’re six (seeded). So, Daniel gave them a couple of days off. Any thought to, ‘we got to pull back on some guys this week. Or rest (them)’?
Q: Will you give yourself any rest?
DABOLL: No. You get rest after the season. It’s a long season. This is the fun part of the season. It’s the fun part of the season when you’re winning. It’s the bad part of the season when you’re losing.
Q: When you say no, is it that you haven’t thought about it yet? Or not that you’re going to play all the starters?
DABOLL: I haven’t. I’m just going to enjoy this one right here – go home and smoke a cigar and hang out with my family.
And here’s what Daboll had to say during his Monday virtual press conference:
Q: I’ll get right to it, what’s your plan for this week as far as playing starters?
DABOLL: We’ll talk about it and do what’s best for the team. So, it’s early Monday. Go out there and try to have a good week of practice, prepare like we normally do, and then decide what we want to do relative to who’s playing, who’s not playing. Whatever we think is best for our team, that’s what we’ll end up doing.
Q: What considerations will go into that decision? Because obviously you guys are locked in. What will make that determination for you?
DAILY: [Giants general manager] Joe [Schoen] and I will have some conversations, talk to the coaches. I don’t think we need to make that decision right now. So, again, we’ll do whatever we think is best for our guys and our team come this week.
Although noncommittal, Daboll’s answer hardly indicates the Giants are definitely planning to play starters. One could contrast that approach with how Doug Pederson said the Jacksonville Jaguars were playing their guys in Week 17 despite playing a relatively meaningless game ahead of a must-win Week 18 meeting.
Of course, different people and different situations.
There’s been a lot of talk about how the Giants should play their starters in Philly to prevent the Eagles from clinching the No. 1 seed. That the Giants should try to seek revenge for the Eagles not trying to beat Washington in the 2020 regular season finale. That the Giants should aspire to take the route that the 2007 team did when they tried to beat the then-undefeated New England Patriots in the regular season finale.
Brian Daboll: Giants will do what’s best for THEIR team this week vs. Eagles. When asked about Tom Coughlin playing all his guys in 2007 and if that’s “right,” Daboll says NE was undefeated then and each situation, including 2023, is different. Sounds like he’ll rest guys.
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) January 2, 2023
The thinking here is that the Giants stand to lose more than they stand to gain by playing their starters. Their roster, which is hardly stacked to begin with, has been hit hard by injuries. They really need to risk getting more banged up? Especially when a key player like Saquon Barkley has logged 352 touches (second most in the NFL!) and has dealt with some injury issues?
Even if the Giants do beat the eagles Philly can still end up as the No. 1 seed. That outcome is obviously not likely. But the point here is that the Giants could risk injury and still not even achieve the desired result.
And is beating the Eagles only to potentially help their other division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, really preferable? Or would the Giants really rather see the San Francisco 49ers, who have won five straight, clinch the No. 1 seed instead of an Eagles team that looks a bit more vulnerable recently?
It can hardly be assumed that the Giants will win their game even if they do go all out for it. They just got blown out by Philly at MetLife Stadium on December 11. That result doesn’t mean the Giants can’t win this game. The Birds have not looked great since that day. But the point is that risking injury to their starters to not even get a certain win seems like not the smartest call.
Even going beyond the injury consideration, it’s not like this is a no-downside proposition for the Giants. There’s a lot of talk about how them winning could help to ‘establish a winning culture’ and ‘raise their confidence.’ The other side of that coin is the Giants trying to win and the Eagles beating them decisively again as a morale booster working in Philly’s favor.
We’ll see what happens as Sunday draws closer. In the meantime, something to consider:
Few expected Brian Daboll to reveal much during today’s presser.
When he was the Bills OC, HC Sean McDermott played Josh Allen and his starters two series before yanking in the 2019 meaningless season finale. https://t.co/0msuJst871
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) January 2, 2023