EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The New York Giants can clinch a playoff berth Sunday at home against the Indianapolis Colts to end a five-year playoff drought. They really don’t want to leave it up to a Week 18 matchup with the NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles.
“Yeah, you don’t want to leave it to chance,” running back Saquon Barkley said. “The way you do that is by doing what you’ve got to do this week. That is really it.”
That means taking care of business as a 5.5-point favorite against a Colts team that has dropped five straight. It would secure the Giants a wild-card spot in a season where not much was expected from this group.
New York (8-6-1) entered this season with a first-year head coach in Brian Daboll and won a total of six. Barkley and a large majority of this Giants roster have never made the postseason. This would be a significant accomplishment.
“It would mean a lot,” Barkley said. “It’s the stuff you dream about as a kid, playing playoff football in the National Football League. It’s something you dream about when you get drafted to the New York Giants.
“Obviously, the first four years it didn’t happen. Now there is a chance, it’s a possibility. It’s a beautiful thing when looking at all the ups and downs, whether it’s in my personal career or as an organization what we’ve been through the last couple of years.
“It will be special. We have a chance to do it.”
Barkley had never even been on a Giants team that had a winning record at any time during his first four years in the NFL. He’s also coming off three injury-plagued seasons that derailed his career.
It’s not just Barkley. Players such as quarterback Daniel Jones, Pro Bowl defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, safety and team captain Julian Love and left tackle Andrew Thomas also had not experienced any team success early in their professional careers. None of them have ever been to the playoffs.
To clinch at home in front of a fan base that hasn’t seen much winning football in recent years would be a nice late-season touch.
“Yeah, I mean — home fans, the support we’ve gotten all year has been great. We really appreciate it,” Jones said. “Yeah, to do it in front of the home fans, it will be a great opportunity for us. We know we have to take care of business.”
Barkley said he’s not exactly sure what a playoff atmosphere is like. But last week in Minnesota sure felt like what he imagined. He expected the same on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants lost 27-24 to the Minnesota Vikings on a 61-yard field goal as time expired. They only have one win this season against a team that currently has a winning record (the Baltimore Ravens). Leaving anything to chance against the Eagles in Week 18 would be dangerous, even if Philadelphia might not need to play its starters long or at all.
The Giants don’t really care how they get to the postseason. Or against whom they beat to get there. It seems obvious that reaching the playoffs would be a nice achievement for many of the players and this young team. Especially in Year 1 of coach Brian Daboll’s system and program.
Still, Daboll has done everything to downplay this week’s game against the Colts, much like he’s done in the previous weeks in meaningful games against the Washington Commanders and Vikings.
“It’s our next game,” Daboll said. “I think everybody knows what [is at stake]. But what we can control is, again, the same stuff we try to control each week — making sure we’re prepared, ready to go and go out there and put our best foot forward.”