The New York Giants try to clinch a playoff spot and the Denver Broncos battle for home field throughout the AFC playoffs in the NFL's first two Saturday games of the season.
The Giants, 10-4, are home against Dallas, 1-13, and the Broncos, 10-4, travel to Phoenix, 5-9, in games that appear mismatches on paper. New York needs one victory to seal at least a wild card spot and remain in contention for a division title. Denver has clinched the AFC West, but lost two straight and leads Houston by one game in the race for the AFC's best record.At East Rutherford, N.J., the Giants are nearly two-touchdown favorites to seal a playoff spot and at least remain tied with Philadelphia in the NFC East. The Cowboys are playing for next year.
"They've got guys on their club I've never heard of before," Giants linebacker Gary Reasons said. "It used to be, we knew Dallas players inside and out."
"They're not a very good team," added New York linebacker Steve DeOssie, a former Cowboy. "But they're playing better every week, making more plays. If we give them even a glimmer of hope, they can surprise us."
A Dallas victory Saturday might surprise the Cowboys most.
"I do believe we're going to be on the short end of the stick," Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson said. "We would have to play as good a game as we've played all season, keep the turnovers to a minimum . . . plus, we'd have to get some help from the Giants giving us the ball a few times."
At Tempe, Ariz., the Broncos can clinch the home field throughout the AFC playoffs with a victory. They have lost two straight and the Cardinals have lost four straight - three under interim head coach Hank Kuhlmann.
"The defense is playing great ball, but the offense is making too many mistakes," Broncos quarterback John Elway said. "As a whole, we have to get better. I have to try and improve."
Denver's defense is ranked third in the NFL. The offense is 16th overall and 24th in passing. The Broncos running game ranks eighth, and rookie Bobby Humphrey needs 28 yards to reach 1,000 yards.
Phoenix has struggled offensively all year as season-ending injuries have claimed some of their biggest threats, including wide receivers Roy Green and J.T. Smith and running back Stump Mitchell.
Veteran Gary Hogeboom is expected to start at quarterback job although there has been some pressure on Kuhlmann to go with second-year pro Tom Tupa or rookie Timm Rosenbach.
In Sunday games, its Buffalo at San Francisco, Green Bay at Chicago, Houston at Cincinnati, Miami at Indianapolis, Minnesota at Cleveland, the Los Angeles Raiders at Seattle, New England at Pittsburgh, San Diego at Kansas City, Washington at Atlanta, the New York Jets at Los Angeles Rams, and Tampa Bay at Detroit. Philadelphia visits New Orleans Monday night.