Why Eli Manning, Giants should rest vs. Redskins

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles

Marcus Mariota. Derek Carr. Ryan Tannehill.

Three of the up-and-coming young quarterbacks are gone for the end of the 2017 season with major injuries. In the cases of Carr’s Raiders and Tannehill’s Dolphins, a trip to the postseason will commence–and likely end–due to quarterbacks going down with injury.

As the Giants prepare for a meaningless Week 17 game in Landover, Maryland against the Washington Redskins, head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese should look around the league for clear reasons why resting key players is the right call on Sunday afternoon. Instead of touting some variation of ‘we play to win the game’ or ‘next game up’ mantras this week, New York’s playoff-bound team needs to look at the big picture.

Even a great performance Sunday isn’t going to change the reality of a three-game sprint to the Super Bowl that could begin the following week.

For quarterback Eli Manning, 13 years of experience, eight postseason victories and two magical rides to the Lombardi Trophy is all the muscle memory needed to be ready for a first round battle in Detroit or Green Bay. And while it’s easy to cite Manning’s consecutive game streak as a reason not to fret for one warm up before the playoffs, don’t forget that the Giants franchise leader went down with a serious ankle injury the 2013 finale at MetLife Stadium.

Anything can happen to a quarterback in the line of fire–just ask Oakland, Tennessee and Miami. Manning may want to play in this game, but it’s simply not worth the risk.

As for the rest of McAdoo’s team? Unlike, say, the Patriots–a team that relies on Tom Brady to prop up a cast of characters on offense–the Giants are a star-driven double-digit win team. If there’s a route to Houston in February, it will require major contributions from elite players like Landon Collins, Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon, Odell Beckham Jr., Manning and Damon Harrison. The Giants are top heavy. If just one of those players went down in Week 17, the chances for even one playoff win would shrink dramatically.

Every decision a team makes on Sunday is risk vs. reward. When kickoff arrives against the Redskins, a huge call will be present for a franchise that’s done so much right in 2016. Momentum–like the 2007 team had by playing hard vs. New England in Week 17–is good. Health is better for a team relying on a group of stars to carry the way in January.

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