The biggest decision the Giants will face when they arrive in Minnesota on Saturday night will have nothing to do with lineups or on-field possibilities. It won’t even be about where to eat or with whom to share a meal.
No, the Giants will be faced with a much more rare choice. Their playoff viability is going to be determined on live television right around the time they start to settle in for the night in their hotel rooms.
Washington will be playing Philadelphia, and if Washington wins, it will be all over for the Giants before they ever take the field Sunday night against the Vikings. If Philadelphia wins, the Giants will remain alive and will need a victory over Minnesota to go into Week 17 still grasping at a postseason possibility.
Will they watch?
“Of course,” wide receiver Rueben Randle said. “It’s a little bit different, but I think we’re willing to accept it at this point.”
It won’t quite be like those bubble teams waiting to see if they get into the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday. The full roster won’t assemble around one screen to groan about every Washington play and sing “Fly, Eagles, Fly!” whenever Philadelphia does well.
In fact, there is a strong population of Giants players who won’t be watching at all.
Rookie safety Landon Collins said he never watches other teams play football on television. He said he’ll stay in his room and watch a movie or two while relaxing for the game the following day, as has been his tradition.
Linebacker J.T. Thomas said he’ll ignore the broadcast, but not because it’s his usual routine.
“Our mindset going into this week has truly been on focusing on our opponent,” he said. “I bought into it. Although I’m sure everybody will be aware of what is going on, I won’t watch it personally.”
Tom Coughlin said he, too, probably will not sit down to learn if his team will get a stay. Nor will he turn the players in one direction or another.
“I probably wouldn’t mention much about it. I don’t expect to,” Coughlin said, adding that he understands most of them probably will watch, anyway.
As for getting his own updates, Coughlin said: “People will be right in my ear with what’s going on.”
Some will block it out, but others know they won’t be able to help themselves.
“What happens in that game definitely determines our future,” receiver Dwayne Harris said. “Watching that game is going to be nerve-wracking. We definitely want Washington to lose and we want to have a chance to get in that spot and win the division. We’ll see what happens.”
Said Randle, “Hopefully, Philly can pull it out for us.”
Earlier in the week, Eli Manning addressed the team and told them that the biggest regret they will have is if the external scenarios they need to unfold do happen — i.e. Washington losing twice in the final two games — and the Giants cannot take care of their own business with two wins to capture the division title. So Sunday night’s game against the Vikings is the most significant one of the weekend for the Giants.
They just hope it still is by the time they are ready to play it.
Guard Justin Pugh said he will be watching Saturday night but isn’t even thinking about Washington clinching, which it would with a victory.
“I’m not even going in that direction,” he said. “I’m sending all positive vibes out there. The Redskins are going to lose, we’re going to do what we need to do, and that’s the approach I’m going to take.”
So . . . rooting for the Eagles, then? Pugh groaned.
“I hope the Redskins lose,’’ he said, “but still, I can’t cheer for Philly.”
This still is the NFC East, after all.