Greg Cote

Stakes are low and score should be, too, as Giants defense shapes Thursday NFL pick

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sun., Dec. 18, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J.
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sun., Dec. 18, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP

GIANTS (10-4)

at EAGLES (5-9)

Line: NYG by 2 ½

Cote's pick: NYG 20-17

TV: 8:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC/NFLN (airing in South Florida)

NFL Week 16 manages to kick off with an NFC East rivalry game of remarkably little import, considering Philly is out of playoff contention and the Giants are all but assured of getting in no matter what happens here. An NYG win would clinch a spot for the Biggies, but so would losses this week by the Lions, Packers, Bucs or Falcons – any of them. Giants beat Birds 28-23 in Week 9 but there are reasons to like 'dogs in the rematch. Philly is 4-2 at home this season and has won past two at home in this series by 54-7. And Eli Manning has more career losses (5) and interceptions (26) against Birds than against any opponent. Phils are a dangerous bad-record team and an upset here would not surprise even a little. Having said all that, it is New York's defense that shapes this pick for me. Giants have led entire NFL in scoring defense since Week 7, and an especially strong pass defense should make it a rough night for Carson Wentz.

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