The New York Giants' chances for the NFC East title have slipped away, and now they will need plenty of help just to reach the playoffs.
Beating a Philadelphia Eagles team with Michael Vick at quarterback in what is expected to be Andy Reid's last game as coach could prove to be difficult enough.
The Giants have lost five straight home meetings with the Eagles and eight of nine overall in this series heading into Sunday's finale.
New York (8-7) led the East most of the season, getting off to a 6-2 start that seemed to indicate the defending Super Bowl champions were once again contenders.
The Giants, however, have since dropped five of seven, including consecutive losses by a margin of 67-14. Last week's 33-14 defeat in Baltimore eliminated them from winning the division.
Now New York must beat Philadelphia (4-11) and hope Chicago, Minnesota and Dallas all lose in order to gain the No. 6 seed as a wild card.
"Obviously, the scenarios are very possible," quarterback Eli Manning said. "It's not like a bunch of huge upsets have to happen. These are three divisional games being played and in the division, you never know what might occur."
This series has decidedly been in favor of Philadelphia since former New York receiver Plaxico Burress shot himself Nov. 28, 2008. The Giants had won six of eight over the Eagles including playoffs prior to that incident before losing eight of the next nine, suffering a 19-17 defeat Sept. 30.
That win over New York improved Philadelphia to 3-1 but an eight-game losing streak followed. The 11 defeats equal the most under Reid since his first team went 5-11 in 1999.
Reid's third losing season in 14 campaigns with the Eagles appears to be his last. The notoriously tough Philadelphia fans chanted his name after Sunday's 27-20 home loss to Washington.
The NFL's longest-tenured coach insists he is focusing on playing the Giants rather than his situation.
"You don't think of those things," Reid said. "Your mind never goes there. It's one day at a time and that's how you go about it. You really don't look into the future."
Reid had originally named Nick Foles his starter for the rest of the season, but Foles broke his throwing hand against the Redskins. That opens the door for Vick, who hasn't played since suffering a concussion during a loss to the Cowboys on Nov. 11 but has been cleared to return.
Vick is 3-1 as a starter against the Giants since joining Philadelphia, and it's widely expected this will be his last season with the Eagles.
"I'm fully confident in myself and the guys around me," Vick said. "We'll have to go out there and put it all together for the last game and get a win for Andy."
In Vick's first six starts this season, the only one in which he did not commit a turnover was the victory over the Giants. He helped guide the Eagles to a go-ahead field goal with 1:49 left before New York's Lawrence Tynes missed a 54-yard attempt as time expired.
Manning was 24 of 42 for 309 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in that contest.
Such efforts from Manning have been lacking recently. His meaningless touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter last Sunday helped him avoid a fifth game in eight without one.
It hasn't helped the two-time Super Bowl MVP that Hakeem Nicks continues to deal with a knee injury. Nicks was held without a catch last week for the first time in his career.
He's listed as questionable, along with defensive end Justin Tuck (shoulder) and safety Kenny Phillips (knee). Nicks did limited work Thursday while Tuck took limited practice reps all three days.
Phillips has missed the last three games.
New York may not have enjoyed recent home success against Philadelphia, but it is looking forward to improving on its 5-2 mark at MetLife Stadium after the blowout road losses to Atlanta and Baltimore.
"Our fans are here," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We're excited to play in front of our fans and I hope that engenders the same kind of result this Sunday."
New York will be challenged to stop LeSean McCoy, who returned against the Redskins with 122 total yards after missing four games with a concussion. McCoy has three straight and four career 100-yard rushing efforts against the Giants, including 123 in the first matchup.
Slowing McCoy may be even more difficult without defensive tackle Chris Canty (knee), who's listed as doubtful.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved