EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A little more than three hours after crashing in his office for a short winter's nap, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin was awake and focusing his attention on the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 64-year-old's need for sleep can wait until later this week. It's mid-December and there is a division title at stake.
The Giants (9-4) and Eagles (9-4) will play for first place in the NFC East on Sunday when they meet at New Meadowlands Stadium.
It's a near must-win for the Giants, if they want to win the division. The Eagles beat them 27-17 in Philadelphia on Nov. 21, and a sweep of the season series would almost certainly guarantee Andy Reid's team the crown.
"It is the kind of a game you want to be playing in the middle of December in the National Football League," Coughlin said Tuesday in a short conference call.
While his team is healthier with tackle David Diehl back in the lineup, Coughlin refused to say the Giants are better than a couple of weeks ago, when they went into the Eagles' game after losing to Dallas the week before.
Coughlin said the running game has put up impressive numbers the past two weeks in beating Washington and Minnesota, and the defense has been impressive in both games, forcing six turnovers against Washington and limiting Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to 26 yards in a 21-3 makeshift win over Minnesota on Monday night in Detroit.
However, when the Giants and Eagles play, anything can happen. So Coughlin needs to be ready, and if that means sleeping in the office, well, then you sleep in the office. Wasn't the first time for him, that's for sure.
"There is no way to catch up when you go to bed at 4:00 and wake up at 7:30," Coughlin said. "That's probably where everybody is today. Maybe you'll get a little more sleep tomorrow night and we'll go from there. My catch-up night is usually the night before the game, so I have one night with a few hours sleep more than normal."
The team returned from Detroit around 3 p.m. Coughlin was back in his office shortly after that, ready for a little sleep.
"The idea is to just stay sharp," he said. "Different individuals are sharper at different times and mine is usually early in the day when I am up early and the thoughts are clearer. Today exemplified that."
Coughlin said the coaching staff spent much of the time prior to Monday night's game working on the Eagles, which is common on any Monday night game. However, he said the preparations were not as efficient as normal because the Giants had no idea they would be playing on Monday night when they left New Jersey on Saturday.
All that changed when a snowstorm in Minneapolis collapsed the roof at the Metrodome and forced the game to be moved to Detroit.
"We did the best we could with it," Coughlin said. "We got some work done and are trying to make up for the rest of it right now."
Coughlin already has adjusted his schedule for the week. Players, who would normally come in early on Wednesday morning, are going to be allowed to sleep a couple of extra hours. Instead of practicing Wednesday, the team will jog through some things.
"I think by Wednesday night," he said, "we will be on our normal schedule."
The Thursday and Friday practices will be normal.
Since losing to the Eagles, the Giants have won three consecutive and moved back into a first-place tie. A week after defeating the Giants, Philadelphia lost its hold on first place when it was beaten by Chicago. The Eagles, however, do hold the tiebreaker as a result of the win in Philadelphia.
"When we came away from there with a loss, and a game or two after that, we had made the resolve that we needed to get ourselves going to be able to keep pace," Coughlin said. "We needed to put some wins together to have an opportunity to play the Eagles and be in the position that we are in. We all know first place in the division is at stake."
Coughlin had no updates on the conditions of receivers Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, who were having MRIs after the win over the Vikings. Smith, who was returning after missing four games with a partial tear of a pectoral muscle, pulled a hamstring in the second half. Manningham sustained a hip flexor.
Backup linebacker Clint Sintim tore an anterior cruciate ligament and will have major knee surgery once the swelling subsides, Coughlin said.