For the Eagles, Thursday night's game against the New York Giants is the first game they'll play after being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday in Baltimore. But don't think for a second that a prime-time game against the Giants on national TV - and Twitter! - won't be as intense as ever.
Circumstances indicate that the best the Eagles can do over the last two weeks against New York and Dallas is play "spoiler." But these games mean so much more than that. The Eagles have had their ups, starting 3-0, and they've had their downs, losing five in a row dating back to the November 20th meeting with Seattle.
There's only one thing left to do - finish strong.
The Giants knocked the Eagles off 28-23 back in Week 9. The game was one of the six losses for the Eagles this season in games decided by seven points or fewer. That loss dropped the Eagles to 4-4, and has helped the Giants rise to 10-4.
Despite falling behind 14-0 after two early Carson Wentz interceptions, the Eagles had their chance to come away with a win. After Jordan Hicks intercepted Eli Manning with under two minutes to play, Wentz hit Nelson Agholor for a 17-yard gain down to New York's 17-yard line, but that's as close as the Eagles would come to the end zone, as a fourth-down pass from Wentz landed just inches away from the outstretched fingertips of Jordan Matthews.
The Eagles want to prove things are different this time.
Offensively, the Eagles must eliminate the turnovers that plagued them early in the first outing, and they'll also have to find a way to not settle for field goals in the red zone, something that has cost them over the past few weeks. It's not going to be easy against a Giants defense that is only allowing 17.9 points per game, the third-best mark in the NFL. The Giants have been "bend but don't break" all season long on defense. The Eagles will have to break them.
Defensively, it's all about disrupting Eli Manning and the Giants' quick passing game. The Eagles intercepted Manning twice in Week 9, but he gashed them for four touchdown passes, including two to superstar wideout Odell Beckham Jr. When the Eagles have had success against the Giants in the past few seasons, they've limited Beckham's production. They'll have to do that on Thursday.
It's a short week leading to a prime-time battle at Lincoln Financial Field.
T Jason Peters Vs. DE Olivier Vernon
The Eagles' offensive line has seen a lot of movement and change this season, with different players shifting to different positions throughout the year. One constant has been Peters on the left side. Peters may be on the other side of 30, but he's had a consistent year as a pass protector. The Giants paid big money for Vernon as a free agent this offseason, and he's delivered with 8.5 sacks. Vernon will almost always be lined up against Peters, so expect a great matchup on Thursday.
CB Jalen Mills Vs. WR Odell Beckham Jr.
The Eagles have used a rotation at corner all season long, and they've typically tried to keep players on one side of the field during a game, rather than having them shadow certain receivers. So while Beckham will probably face a few different Eagles in coverage, look for the rookie Mills to have his chance to prove himself against Beckham. Mills can help prove himself as a key piece of the defense movie forward by doing his best to slow down his former LSU teammate.
TE Zach Ertz Vs. S Landon Collins
While Ertz seemed hindered by a rib injury for most of the first half of the season, he's come into his own during the month of December. In the Eagles last three games, Ertz has 25 catches for 271 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Collins has been the defensive MVP for the Giants this season, leading the team with 108 tackles and five interceptions. He was the NFC's Defensive Player of the Month for November. Collins is developing into the ball hawk the Giants were hoping for when they took him in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Trends To Watch
47: The Eagles have outscored the Giants 54-7 ( 47) in the last two games they've hosted New York at Lincoln Financial Field.
11: The Eagles have sacked Giants quarterbacks 11 times in the last two games played in Philadelphia. Eli Manning was sacked six times in the 27-0 Eagles victory in 2014.
364: Though the Eagles came up short in the game, QB Carson Wentz threw for 364 yards in the first 2016 meeting with the Giants, a career high.
15: Eli Manning's 15 career losses against the Eagles are his most against any single opponent, as are his 26 career interceptions thrown while playing against the Eagles.