Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 17:
Are the New York Giants playing for Tom Coughlin's job Sunday against the Washington Redskins? If the Giants somehow lose this game at FedEx, there will be immense pressure on co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch to fire Coughlin. And even a win doesn't guarantee Coughlin will return. The Giants dominated the Redskins at the line of scrimmage in their last meeting and Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw both had big days running the ball. The Skins have shown a lot more pride on defense in recent weeks, though, so I don't expect another blowout. Coughlin has asked his players to show more intensity early in this game. He was embarrassed by how his team was physically whipped by Green Bay last Sunday. If that happens against the Redskins, we could be reporting about a coaching search next week.
This is a golden opportunity for Dallas Cowboys third-string quarterback Stephen McGee. If McGee can back up his nice performance against the Arizona Cardinals by leading the Cowboys to a win, he'll have the inside track on being Tony Romo's backup next season. Once McGee got comfortable against the Cardinals, he used his legs to create plays. He even had a Romo-like shovel pass when things broke down in the pocket. If McGee protects the ball, he'll have a great chance to get a win. The Eagles aren't going to do anything that exotic on defense as they prepare for a wild-card playoff game. Interim coach Jason Garrett, on the other hand, will pull out all the Ivy League stops to get a win and impress owner Jerry Jones.
Could this be Kevin Kolb's last start with the Eagles? We all thought Kolb was the heir apparent to Donovan McNabb, but that was before Michael Vick began his MVP campaign. Kolb will have an opportunity to put some more work on film for the teams that are desperate for quarterback help. I think Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will keep things pretty vanilla with this game plan against the Cowboys, but Kolb will still take a couple of shots downfield against Dallas' cornerbacks. If the Eagles can get a first-round pick for Kolb, they'd have to think about moving him. And if you're the Cardinals or the Vikings, I think Kolb might be a better option than some of the rookies in this draft. And it's not like he'd break the bank since he's already earned the bulk of his money from the Eagles.
I'll be watching the interior of the Cowboys' offensive line Sunday. There are several players -- Kyle Kosier, Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo -- who could be replaced up front this offseason. If the Eagles let defensive tackle Antonio Dixon play for at least the first half, he'll pose a great test for Kosier and center Andre Gurode. Dixon took over as the starter in Week 5 and Brodrick Bunkley's not been able to regain his spot. The Cowboys' interior linemen have had trouble moving their feet and creating any push in the running game this season. Dixon's tough to move and I could see him being a difficult matchup for Kosier.
This is an important game for Mike Shanahan because of the evaluation process. Shanahan loves the fact that New York is still fighting for a playoff spot. He wanted the chance to have one last true evaluation of quarterback Rex Grossman heading into the offseason. Giants coordinator Perry Fewell will bring pressure from a lot of different areas, so Shanahan will see how Grossman responds. It's hard to imagine the Skins heading into 2011 with Grossman as the starter, but for now, that's still a possibility. I also think this game will give the Redskins a chance to see how young players such as outside linebacker Rob Jackson and safety Kevin Barnes build on last week's game against the Jaguars. Starting outside linebacker Brian Orakpo will likely return to the lineup, but Jackson will receive plenty of reps. Barnes made a big play against the Jaguars in overtime, but Shanahan wants to see him improve in other areas. He has to do a better job of tackling in the open field.