Pats at Giants in the regular-season finale is bigger than any Giants playoff game, and the Giants should compete in it like it's their Super Bowl:
I appreciate that the Giants have to prepare for the playoffs, but does any fan really think that the Giants have a chance to win the NFC, let alone the Super Bowl? And even if they do win the NFC title, who cares? Like they wouldn't get mowed down in the Super Bowl?
Wouldn't it be even bigger for the Giants to deny the Patriots their 16-0 season than to win this year's meaningless NFC Championship?
History would certainly remember these Giants for that in a way that they wouldn't remember them for a playoff flame-out. (Want proof? The 1985 Dolphins.)
That's why the Giants should play in this game like it IS their Super Bowl; it IS their biggest game of the year. It IS bigger than any playoff game could possibly be.
Given the national simulcast on NBC, CBS and the NFL Network – and the fact that it's on a Saturday night of a four-day holiday weekend – it will be watched by more people than any of the Giants actual playoff games. It won't just make the Giants' season; if they can beat the Patriots, it will define their careers. It will finally give New York sports fans something they can hold over Boston fans, who spent 2007 kicking New Yorkers' asses up and down.
Roger Director is a Giants uber-fan who wrote a great book called "I Dream In Blue" that came out earlier this season. If you are a Giants fan (or simply appreciate books about rabid sports fandom), I highly recommend it.
Anyway, I emailed him for his reaction to my theory, and here's what he replied with, an amusing take -- through ultra-blue-hued glasses, as you'll see. Here's his reply in full:
I was asked yesterday by someone how the Giants should handle this weekend's game against the Patriots. My first question is, the
New Englandwho? Then I recalled: they are one of those upstart American Football League franchises who we let into the NFL a few years back. I looked at the person asking me this question and tried to hide my disgust. Does anyone suggest Big Blue should lay down for a team whose insignia is a guy in a funny suit bending over and taking a dump?
I don't think so.
I take the notion that the Giants need to duck for cover against
New Englandas a blood libel. If anyone should be scared and knocking knees, it's the Patriots. If I'm Randy Moss, I'm feigning injury so I don't have to get creamed by Aaron Ross. If I'm Teddy Bruschi, I'm feigning stroke-like symptoms so I don't have to get my brain waves re-arranged by Brandon Jacobs's knee. If I'm Tom Brady, Giselle Bundchen or whoever is his girlfriend of the moment, is asking me, 'What's wrong, Tommy, how come you can't get it up all week?' and I'm having so respond like the lamebrain I am, 'Jeez, Giselle, I guess I'm afraid of playing the Giants. I can' get them out of my mind. Just let's cuddle.'
Chromosome-challenged Big Blue fans can worry all they want about whether or not Osi gets injured. Their thinking goes, we can beat Tampa and then maybe go into Green Bay and win and then be playing for the NFC championship -- but only if Burress's ankle is ok.
The first thing you should ask yourself is, 'What would Shockey! do?" We know the answer. Strap it on.
I imagine a great Giants Big Blue war council at Gallagher's -- Well Mara and Giff and Robustelli and LT and Rosey Brown and Big Red and Harry Carson....they're all there and are they going to say, 'sure, play to lose against New England and hope nobody gets hurt?' I don't think so.
Somewhat more seriously....the upside of playing all out and beating the Patriots is huge. Winning this game is not only a notch in the belt, but a gigantic morale booster. We win this game, we kick New England's ass, and we're the toughest team on the block...and we don't simply hope we can get past the first round in the playoffs, we know we can win the Super Bowl. Simple as that.
I look for Eli to have a big game. He outplays Brady. Throws three TD passes. Giants win 31-20. We are the New York Giants. We make the ground shudder. We make the clouds assemble. And any team, no matter what their record, better hope their ambulances are gassed up. The
New Englandwho, again?
It's incredibly rare to have a moment for a playoff team when a regular-season game (at the end of the year, when playoff status has already been clinched) is more important than a playoff game.
In this case, this year -- when the Super Bowl title is all but ceded to the Pats (or, if Pats playoff calamity ensues, an AFC team, most certainly) -- this game is WAY more important than any playoff game for the Giants and Giants fans.
I'm torn: On one hand, I would love to see the history made. It would silence the '72 Dolphins alums; it would set up a 19-0 run; it would set up the biggest upset in sports history if the Pats somehow happened to lose along the way in the playoffs. All good things.
On the other hand, I can't stand Pats fans. (I actually think Bill Belichick is phenomenal, and I'm a huge fan of his. I respect the talent of the players and respect their achievement this season. But
These are the emotions that EVERY fan is bringing to this game. Either outcome is actually acceptable. There is no reason for the Giants to try to do anything BUT win this game as if their entire legacy rested in the balance. Because it does.