The Giants have repeated the scenario in which their final regular-season game means nothing.
Only this year’s regular-season finale vs. Minnesota — ripe with playoff ramifications for the NFC North — is different than last year’s regular-season finale vs. New England.
Last year, the Giants treated the meaningless game as if it were jam-packed with meaning. They played their regulars. They went all out. They did everything they could to win a game that, technically, didn’t matter. Only it turned out that the game propelled the Giants into the postseason and on to a Super Bowl victory over the previously unbeaten Patriots team that Giants lost to during the regular season’s final weekend.
This year, the Giants are coming off a momentum-building win over Carolina. The offense was clicking. Now, it will be easier for Giants coach Tom Coughlin to rest some of the starters that have battled injuries through the second half of the season.
It will not be surprising to see Coughlin lean on the medical advice of his doctors and rest running back Brandon Jacobs, who has been battling a knee injury, and defensive tackle Fred Robbins, who has been battling a shoulder injury, and even cornerback Aaron Ross, who suffered a concussion last week.
Coughlin could also opt to rest defensive end Justin Tuck (leg) and offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie (back). It’s even possible that the playing time of quarterback Eli Manning will be limited, depending on what Coughlin believes is the best approach. Coughlin wants to see how the week goes and how the players are feeling before making any final decisions.
Yet as the Giants prepare for a Vikings team that needs to win Sunday’s game to clinch the NFC North title, one thing is certain: for a variety of reasons, the Giants will not treat this year’s regular-season finale the same way they treated last year’s.