Squeezing into the playoffs with the worst-ever record for a division champion is not totally up to the Giants. They do control something, though, as far as their standing and self-image in their NFC East neighborhood.
For eight consecutive years, the Giants got sand kicked in their faces by the Cowboys and Eagles. It was the ultimate indignity and it gnawed at ownership and the front office.
The Giants, in Week 10, ended an eight-game losing streak to the Eagles. They carry a seven-game losing streak to the Cowboys into Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium. If the Giants are able to end that streak this weekend, they would finish 4-2 in the NFC East because they swept the two-game series from Washington.
“There’s a lot of marks since I came in here we circled and said ‘We’ve got to hit these,’ ’’ head coach Joe Judge said. “A lot of things I haven’t advertised. A lot of thing internally everyone was aware of. Look, playing in the National Football League, it really does all start with your division. It’s really the most important thing. You play these guys twice a year, you have to know your division, you have to improve within your division. A lot of people will build their teams based on who they play twice a year within the division.
“Those games don’t trump every other game, but they’re obviously very important games because they almost count as more than one game because of how you’re measured against the other teams in the division.’’
The Cowboys, like the Giants, can qualify for the playoffs, but need help. If they beat the Giants again, they would secure a season sweep and finish 3-3 in the division.
“I really have always approached division games the same,’’ said Mike McCarthy, who is in his first year with the Cowboys after 13 years as the Packers’ head coach. “They’re different, everybody knows each other better than the other games, so it brings a different energy, a different intensity. The records in the past don’t really factor because you know they’re going to get their best shot and the rivalry, division games bring that extra energy and that next level-type game, especially going to New York when you’re on the big stage there.’’
TE Evan Engram, trying to play all 16 games in a season for the first time in his four-year career, injured his calf late in the loss to the Ravens. Engram was a limited participant in practice, as were S Jabrill Peppers (ankle) and WR Sterling Shepard (ribs).
FB Eli Penny (illness) and WR Golden Tate (calf) did not practice. QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) and CB Darnay Holmes (knee) were full participants.
For the Cowboys, LB Leighton Vander Esch (ankle) and G Zack Martin (calf) did not practice and S Xavier Woods (ribs) was limited.
The Giants could receive a boost with the return of OLB Kyler Fackrell, who missed the past four games with a calf injury and is trending toward playing in this game. … WR David Sills was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Sills was on injured reserve all season. The Giants also listed CB Madre Harper, on IR, as designated to return.
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