Wednesday August 29, 2012

Considering their previous high-profile faceoffs, there's no better way to finish off an NFL season than Patriots vs. Giants.

Problem is, Wednesday night's game is a preseason finale for both teams. So it doesn't count, and just about every big star, including the Elis and Toms, Gronks and Tucks, will be watching mostly obscure players try to earn roster spots.

That's in keeping with the current dynamics of the NFL's exhibition schedule, which concludes with three games Wednesday and 13 more on Thursday. With the exception of those few key position battles remaining, there's virtually no luster or intrigue. Everyone is saving that for kickoff weekend.

That means little game-planning and no chance any nicked-up players get on the field, especially Tom Brady after he was hit far too often for New England's liking this summer.

"We really just want to try to focus on all the things we need to improve in for the Patriots and not worry too much about anybody else right now," coach Bill Belichick said. "Just making sure that we're making progress in the direction that we need to go."

That direction for the Patriots is to the Meadowlands for what certainly won't look like a rematch of the Giants' 21-17 victory in early February. Or the 2008 17-14 win over the previously perfect Patriots. The Giants are particularly banged-up.