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Giants' attitude toward Cowboys: It'll be a mind game

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur watches his team

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur watches his team in the first quarter of a game against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday in Indianapolis. Credit: Getty Images/Joe Robbins

A Giants win on Sunday won’t change anything practical for the Cowboys. They have already won the NFC East title, they’re locked in as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, and they’ll be hosting a game on wildcard weekend.

But maybe, just maybe, the Giants have a chance here to alter the mindset of the Cowboys before they embark on their postseason journey.

“It’s our job,” Eli Manning said, “to try to put a little doubt in their mind and go beat a good team.”

Whether such a loss would actually effect the Cowboys is tough to say, particularly if they rest their starters and key contributors (Jason Garrett said on Wednesday that he wants his team to “go practice well and play well and get ready for the following week.”).

Pat Shurmur said Garrett’s plans will not influence his own.

“I expect them to come in and try to win a football game,” Shurmur said. “And we’re going to try to do the same, try to beat them at their best and finish the year on a good note.”

Certainly the Giants would prefer that they be heading to the playoffs themselves. To be able to have an impact on (if not an appearance in) this year’s postseason is as close as they’ll get. It may seem like a fabricated inspiration, but playing a small role in thwarting the Cowboys’ future could add some measure of gratification if they get knocked out early.

“It’s not the circumstance you want,” Manning said, “but you have to deal with what we have in front of us.”

Notes & quotes: Shurmur said Odell Beckham Jr.’s quad injury is improving, but the wide receiver is still not practicing as the already slim likelihood that he’ll be available for Sunday’s game dwindles. “It won’t be much different than what he did last week,” Shurmur said of Beckham being on the side during workouts … LB Alec Ogletree and TE Rhett Ellison remain in the concussion protocol. DL Mario Edwards (calf) and WR Russell Shepard (ankle) did not practice. LB B.J. Goodson (foot), C Spencer Pulley (calf) and WR Sterling Shepard (hip) were limited. “They’re all feeling better, but we’ll just see if they have enough time to make it to the game,” Shurmur said of the injured players.

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