EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has already rewritten part of the record book. More is within his reach when the New York Giants travel to face the Washington Redskins on Sunday in a regular-season finale that has no implications for the visitors.
Beckham has 96 catches for 1,323 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He’s within striking distance of several significant accomplishments, even if the Pro Bowl receiver has downplayed its meaning.
“It’s whatever. Stats and numbers, they’re all going to come at some point in time,” Beckham said. “What I’m really focused on, for the first time in my career in the NFL, is having the opportunity to go to the playoffs and play in those big-time games. It’s hard to not look past this game knowing what’s at stake and the position that we are in.”
Beckham says he’ll still take the same approach on Sunday. Coach Ben McAdoo has insisted that the Giants will play their starters against the Redskins, and that they’re playing to win the game.
It would still be a surprise if Beckham and other irreplaceable starters played all four quarters. The Giants (10-5) are locked in as the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs. They’ll be headed on the road no matter how Sunday plays out.
But Beckham can still accomplish a few things against his archrival, Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. This is what is in his reach:
Can be the first Giants receiver since Ray Flaherty in 1932 to lead the league in receiving yards. Beckham has 1,323 yards and enters Week 17 just 30 yards behind league-leader T.Y. Hilton (1,353 yards). Atlanta’s Julio Jones (1,313) is also in the mix.
With 86 receiving yards passes Randy Moss (4,163) for most yards in the first three seasons of a career
Holds a four-catch lead over close friend and current Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (279 career receptions) for most catches in first three professional seasons
Needs four catches to reach 100 in a season for the first time in his career
Needs one catch to set a new career high. He had 96 last season.
Needs 128 receiving yards to set a new career high, surpassing his total of 1,450 yards last season
Is reaching any of these milestones worth risking the health of one of the NFL’s top playmakers in a contest that has no playoff implications for the Giants? Probably not. But these are accomplishments Beckham likely wouldn’t mind having on his already impressive résumé.
After all, this is a player who during his rookie season had the stats of all the other rookie wide receivers taped and updated on a weekly basis inside his locker. He made it well known he was trying to be the best of the bunch.
Beckham has also been adamant about prioritizing the playoffs. He’s stated since the start of the season that his No. 1 goal has been to play in and win the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.
Accumulating stats and setting records are secondary.
Week 17 Giants Cheat Sheet
Who plays and how much?
The Giants have made a concerted effort this week to keep it business as usual. They plan to play their starters, although it will be interesting to see for how long given that the contest has no playoff implications.
McAdoo has given every indication to players and the media entering Sunday that the team will play it as a normal game.
“Eli's going to play the ballgame, yes,” McAdoo said when asked if quarterback Eli Manning will play the entire game.
It’s hard to imagine, however, if the Giants fall behind or start strong that McAdoo will keep his starters in for the entire contest. The benefit seems minimal compared to the risk.
Here are the players that have left the Giants’ last four games with injuries: Jason Pierre-Paul, Johnathan Hankins, Damon Harrison, Shane Vereen, Janoris Jenkins, Vereen (again), Harrison (again) and Eli Apple. Pierre-Paul and Vereen will be lost for extended periods of time.
It’s just not worth it.
On the road again
The Giants haven’t been the same team on the road (3-4) as they have been at home (7-1). Their only wins in front of an opposing crowd have been Week 1 in Dallas and Week 12 in Cleveland. Their other “road” win was over the Rams in London.
Neither the Giants' offense nor defense has been as good. The offense is scoring an average of 21 points per game at home this season compared to a paltry 17.6 on the road; the defense is allowing 19.6 on the road compared to 17.1 at home.
This is especially relevant with the Giants’ playoff path expected to be exclusively on the road.
Guess the inactives
This is just a crapshoot. McAdoo has to juggle playing his starters and subbing in younger players as the game progresses. My gut says Jenkins is kept out as a precaution, even though he was a limited participant in practice this week and would play if this was the postseason.
Prediction: Redskins 26, Giants 22
The Giants know there are bigger games on the horizon. Beckham admitted it's human nature to keep this in mind when running across the middle to catch a slant. The Giants may also be down their top cornerback against a talented Redskins receiving corps. Aside from all that, the Giants haven't fared well on the road. Their last quality road win was in Week 1 against Dallas. They don't record another in Week 17 against a way more desperate team.