New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) is protected by New York Giants guard Chris Snee (76) and offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie (67) as he delivers a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Giants v. Washington: 5 Reasons to Watch

In Week 16, the Giants pulled out a surprising overtime victory against a team playing for its playoff life. Though Big Blue played far from a perfect game, it served as a reminder of the clutch performances this team used to put together regularly, which had been altogether absent in 2013.

The win puts the Giants at 6-9 with one game to go against division-rival Washington. Washington is one of the few teams in the NFL who have had a more regrettable season than the G-men; after weeks of underperformance, coach Mike Shanahan loudly benched the teams starting quarterback, Robert Griffin III, in Week 15. So why watch a game featuring two underachieving teams and one backup quarterback? Here are 5 reasons:

1. There’s always next year.

Despite calls for an all-out rebuild, this team will likely look very similar in 2014. Eli Manning isn’t going anywhere, and his primary receivers this week (other than Hakeem Nicks) will be asked to step up their contributions next year. The defense, which has been surprisingly decent in an otherwise miserable season, will return most of its starters. The biggest changes figure to happen on the offensive line and front seven, but the team that plays Week 1 in 2014 will look a lot like the one taking the field in Giants Stadium on Sunday. Might as well get a preview.

2. The Giants might actually win.

As mentioned above, the Skins have had one of the few seasons more stressful and disappointing than the Giants have had. With Shanahan likely on his way out and backup Kirk Cousins taking the QB reins, the Giants have a rare favorable matchup in Week 17. Not to mention Washington’s 21st-ranked defense might inject some life into a struggling offense.

3. Draft position.

Unlike Washington, the Giants actually own their own first round pick in next year’s draft. That means that, win or lose, Sunday’s game will affect the Giants’ draft position. If you’re one of those fans who likes to root for higher draft position once your team is out of the playoffs (I’m not, but I’m also not here to judge), then you’ll be rooting for the ‘Skins on Sunday.

4. Last games for Justin Tuck and Hakeem Nicks?

These two Giants mainstays are both unsigned for next season, meaning their days in Big Blue may be numbered. Justin Tuck might have played himself into a new contract this year, leading the Giants with 9 sacks and 6 tackles for loss, but he also might get that new contract elsewhere a la Osi Umenyiora. Nicks, on the other hand, played himself out of an extension with a miserable 2013 season. Once drafted as the heir apparent to Plaxico Burress, Nicks never reached a consistently high level of play despite two excellent seasons in 2010 and 2011. He’s played through injuries his whole career and has never played 16 games in a season, but when healthy he and Victor Cruz formed one of the most feared receiver tandems in the NFL. If both Tuck and Nicks are gone, they’ll leave with 3 Super Bowl rings and 14 seasons wearing Big Blue.

5. It’s still Giants football.

You only get so many chances a year to watch your favorite team play, and this will be the last one until September 2014. Get your fix while you can.

 

COMPLETELY UNRELATED UPDATE: I’m looking to sell 2 tickets for this game in the first row of section 307 for face value ($105 each). If interested, tweet me @rizimmerman. Thanks!

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