It wasn't the ending a team known for its late-season charges expected. The Giants had the NFC East in their control, but three losses in four December games pushed them out of the NFC East race.
Philadelphia, long since eliminated from playoff contention, take on the slumping Giants in what's likely the last game for the league's most tenured coach, Andy Reid. The Eagles (4-11) have beaten the Giants five straight times on the road, and have won eight of the last nine games between the bitter rivals.
Meet the New York Giants
It isn't a question of talent for the Giants. Littered with Pro Bowl players (including three on this year's team, wide receiver Victor Cruz, right guard Chris Snee and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul), the Giants have been one of the league's most inconsistent teams.
Offensively, they've scored 41 points twice this year and also have been shut out. Quarterback Eli Manning has been his usual dominant self, and he's been very poor. Their defense has struggled to tackle - particularly in the secondary - and allow 387 yards a game, the third-highest total in the league.
They're coming off an embarrassing performance in all three phases of the game in a 33-14 loss at Baltimore, and will need to win and get losses from Chicago, Minnesota and Dallas to have a chance at the postseason.
Meet the Philadelphia Eagles
Nothing went right for Philadelphia after a 3-1 start that included a dramatic win over the Giants in Week 4 and a gutty performance in a victory over AFC North champion Baltimore in Week 2. The wheels fell off the season during an eight-game losing streak from Week 5 to Week 13, and they've been changing quarterbacks and firing coaches ever since.
Reid appears to be next, and his termination will likely come very quickly after their Week 17 game, win or lose. Reid took over as head coach of the Eagles in 1999 and has amassed 130 wins and nine postseason berths in that time. But the Eagles have only won 12 of their last 31 games heading into Sunday's game against the Giants and are a team in flux over decisions regarding their quarterback. Michael Vick was given a six-year, $100 million contract, with $40 million guaranteed, before the 2011 season. He has struggled with performance and with injuries in each of the last two years, and has now seen rookie Nick Foles take his starting job even after being cleared to play following a concussion in Week 10.
Vick will get the start in this game, replacing Foles, who broke his hand in the team's Week 16 loss to Washington.
Local Takes: New York Giants
Kelsey O'Donnell of SB Nation's Giants blog, Big Blue View, wonders about the futures of long-standing Giants defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora:
As for their futures, it's pretty clear that Umenyiora will likely be gone next season when he enters free agency. As for Tuck, I believe he will finish out his contract. It's a matter of where his head is at.
Local Takes: Philadelphia Eagles
JasonB of Bleeding Green Nation opines on the possibility of Reid ending up in Jacksonville for the 2013 season:
On the coaching front, soon-to-be ex-Eagles coach Andy Reid and Alabama's Nick Saban are two big names being floated, but both would come at a hefty cost, if they were even interested in the Jaguars.
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
@amazen6483 Thomas? Can you really plan on a guy who has now had 3 ACL surgeries. Don't count on that, although you have to hope it happens.— Ed Valentine (@bigblueview) December 29, 2012
@RVacchianoNYDN - Giants beat writer
CB Prince Amukamara (doubtful/hamstring) said "As of right now, I'm still thinking I'm playing.' #NYG— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) December 28, 2012
@pdomo - Eagles beat writer
Eagles' 36 giveaways are 2nd most in the league. Have allowed NFL-worst 129 points off those TOs, which is 32.1% of their pts. allowed.— Paul Domowitch (@pdomo) December 28, 2012
When the NFL schedule-makers put this game in Week 17, they probably thought it would be a win-and-you're-in game. But the Eagles stunk up the joint this year and the Giants have lost three of four. New York can still get in but they need a lot of help. It'd be fitting if Michael Vick, in what is likely his last game as an Eagle, exploded with a big game.
The pick: 31-27, Eagles
Offensively, the game matches up New York's No. 9-ranked offense (25.8 PPG) against a Eagles defense that ranks No. 26 at 26.8 PPG," writes OddsShark, installing the Giants as eight-point favorites at home.
The Giants, with a win and a boatload of help, could be preparing for a road game against either San Francisco or Green Bay. Philadelphia will likely be finalizing a list of candidates for their head coaching position.