The Eagles and Giants are both out of the playoffs. Chip Kelly’s gone and Tom Coughlin will reportedly retire after Sunday’s game. But the outcome is definitely not “meaningless.”
Philadelphia and New York are two of the six 6-9 teams going into week 17, and three more are just one game worse at 5-10. The losing team could rise as high as the 9th pick in the draft, while the winner could fall to 17th — and gets a harder schedule next year.
So what happens if both teams want to lose?
That’s not a given, of course. Fans have paid good money for their tickets, and even if he does retire, Coughlin may want to finish his 20-year coaching with a win. (He’s 170-149 so far.) The Eagles may have the common “just fired a coach we were sick of” surge.
But assuming they are both playing for the long run, it could be a weird kind of chess match. Sitting their healthy starting QBs might be too obvious, but Odell Beckham, Jr. could “tweak something” while warming up, something he does fairly often anyway. Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul and WR Dwayne Harris are “questionable” on the official injury report already.
It’s easier for the Eagles, who have already ruled out CB Byron Maxwell and NT Bennie Logan. Logan has clearly been playing injured since at least December 6th. Not coincidentally, the team’s run defense has collapsed during that stretch.
CB Eric Rowe has done pretty well for a rookie, even when thrown into games against wide receivers as good as Megatron, so it makes sense to test him against ODB if he does play. He’ll be seeing plenty of the Giants star for years to come if he does emerge as an Eagles starter. He’d probably get torched, but his confidence seems strong and the sooner his learning process can begin, the better. They could go whole hog and start Randall Evans at the other corner slot.
But if the Eagles really want to lose, the answer is easy: just give DeMarco Murray all the carries he wants.