Just how competitive the NFC East has been this season is hard to comprehend. The Washington Commanders were still playing for their playoff lives in Week 17, whether they knew it or not. The Eagles played at home Sunday with 13 wins already in the bank, but still work to do to clinch the division - something they failed to do as the Saints upset them 20-10. The Giants had the most clear task at hand Sunday, needing just a win against the lowly Colts to clinch their first playoff berth since 2016.
New York did just that, blowing out the Colts 38-10 to make the playoffs in their first season under Brian Daboll. From being seen as not much more than a good story slightly ahead of schedule early in the season, the Giants are now firmly in the playoff field and have no intention of slowing down now. Even being locked into the sixth seed, the Giants Week 18 game at the Eagles is of interest to Cowboys fans. The Cowboys need a win over the now-eliminated Commanders and help from the Giants beating the Eagles to clinch their second straight NFC East title. This scenario would also keep Dallas in play for the top seed and home field advantage in the NFC, with help elsewhere in the weekend slate.
Daboll was brought to New York to end a streak of inexperienced coaches that couldn’t bring the Giants back to the playoffs, and in doing so knows how to handle this moment. When asked about resting starters against an Eagles team that still has something to play for, Daboll gave an answer that should have Dallas fans sending some Texas BBQ to the Northeast.
The Giants roster doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience, as this will be Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley’s first appearance. They may not get to tune up against an Eagles team at full strength with Jalen Hurts, but Philadelphia will still be playing to protect the top seed. The Giants will also be looking to avenge a 48-22 home loss to the Eagles this season before opening the playoffs on the road.
Just as reaching the playoffs in consecutive seasons has become the new standard in Dallas under Mike McCarthy, Daboll and his young Giants team are sending a message that the same expectations exist in New York. The Eagles may not be the juggernaut they were earlier in the season, but they’ll be plenty of experts pick to go far in the playoffs, while the Giants will be seen as more of an early out. A head-to-head win for the Giants could change this narrative in Week 18, and greatly help the Cowboys.
The NFC playoff field is shaping up to be as wide open as ever, with every contender showing flaws late in the season. Home field advantage could mean more than ever, especially for a Cowboys team that hasn’t won a road playoff game since 1992. Bringing themselves to root for the Giants may not be easy, but considering how much the Cowboys have owned NFC East competition when needed, it’s fair to ask for a little help while they look to beat the Commanders for the fourth straight time.