Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — After beating Dallas on Thanksgiving to take the lead in the NFC East with a month to go, the Philadelphia Eagles looked like a can't-miss prospect for the playoffs
The New York Giants never gave themselves a chance in 2014, losing nine of their first 12 games.
The Giants (6-9) and the Eagles (9-6) play Sunday in the regular-season finale, and both are remarkably in the same hole.
Chip Kelly's Eagles have dropped three straight and they enter the post-Christmas game with no playoffs ahead. They are as dead the Giants. Monday will be a day to clean out the lockers and go home for a long offseason.
"My thoughts are it's gut-wrenching," Kelly said of the slide that included losses to Seattle, Dallas and Washington. "That's what I was just trying to explain. Whether we lose in the playoff game or whether we lost in this fashion, they're both gut-wrenching situations. We're extremely disappointed. We're frustrated. We understand that."
Kelly's approach to this week is to prepare for the Giants and go out a winner.
That's the same approach Giants coach Tom Coughlin has taken for weeks. New York has won three in a row behind the stellar play of rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and that might be enough to bring Coughlin back. A two-time Super Bowl winner in his 11 seasons with the team, he also has missed the playoffs three straight years.
"I look forward again to the challenge, which is against a team that just two weeks ago played for the No. 1 seed in the division and a team that is recognized as an outstanding football team, and to see where we are," said Coughlin, who has a year left on his contract. "What's our progress been like? That is where I am emotionally."
The Eagles dominated the Giants 27-0 in October, a game that sent New York on a seven-game losing streak.
Some things to know about a now meaningless game:
NOT OVER THE HILL: A year after throwing a career-high 27 interceptions, Eli Manning has learned a new offense and has 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, two fewer than big brother Peyton. Eli has a 109.8 quarterback rating over the last five games. He needs 19 yards for his fourth 4,000-yard passing season.
SANCHEZ BACK: This will mark the first time Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez will play at MetLife Stadium since being released by the Jets at the end of last season. It will bring back memories.
"I think it'll be fun," he said. "A good chance to get back to that stadium that I know pretty well. A lot more blue and red than I am used to, but that's just fine. We played against the Giants a few times in the preseason. It will be a good matchup. There are a lot of guys I have become close with over there and I have watched over the years, so it will be a good experience."
SWAN SONGS: The game could be the last as Giants for defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and safety Antrel Rolle. Both were members of the Super Bowl championship team in February 2012 and will be free agents after the season.
The 25-year-old Pierre-Paul has seven sacks and two forced fumbles in his last four games. Rolle, 32, has two interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble in his last two games against the Eagles.
ZACH ATTACK: Tight end Zach Ertz set a franchise record with 15 catches and also got his first-career 100-yard game with 115 yards receiving in Philadelphia's 27-24 loss to Washington last week. Ertz, a second-round pick in 2013, hadn't been involved in the offense as much as expected before that game. He had 15 catches combined in his previous seven games.
"We feel good about the way we used him this year, and he did a heck of a job the other night," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said, defending the decision to split Ertz's snaps with Brent Celek.
CORNER SWITCH: The Eagles may finally have a new starting cornerback opposite Cary Williams. Bradley Fletcher was benched after DeSean Jackson caught two passes for more than 50 yards against him last week. A week earlier, Dez Bryant caught three TDs against Fletcher in a loss to Dallas. Fletcher also was torched by Green Bay's Jordy Nelson this season and is the most-often targeted member of a secondary that has allowed more big plays than any team in the league.
Nolan Carroll III replaced Fletcher in the fourth quarter against the Redskins. But part of the blame falls on defensive coordinator Billy Davis for allowing Fletcher to play man-to-man defense instead of giving him more help with a safety in coverage.
"You just can't yank and jerk all these guys," Davis said. "There are not a whole lot of players that you have options for anyway, but you can't just bail on a guy right away. And sometimes maybe you wait too long, maybe you don't do it quick enough, maybe you do it too quick, and it's a fine line, and you've got to make that call. "
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report