There are a couple of things sure to make Tom Coughlin grimace. One is a question about his game plan; the other is a question about the future beyond the next game.

Coughlin knows he's in a no-win situation as far as the outside world is concerned. On Saturday night, the Giants will host the Patriots, who are going for a perfect 16-0 regular season.

The Giants are in the playoffs at 10-5, and 11-5 wouldn't change a thing. They will face the Buccaneers in Tampa either Jan. 5 or Jan. 6, and almost certainly would have to win three games on the road to reach the Super Bowl.

But the debate will rage about what Coughlin should do Saturday with his starters. Rest them or play them?

"This team is trying to go far," linebacker Antonio Pierce said. "We're not worried about Week 17 anymore. They're not going to take it easy on us, and we're not going to take it easy on them."

"It's difficult for me because we want to win every game," Coughlin said. "I'd rather think of how we can play against a very good opponent and have an opportunity to win."


* Kansas City Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said that he's seen enough of Brodie Croyle to make him the team's No. 1 quarterback in the offseason depth chart.

The 4-11 Chiefs could be staring at a top-five draft pick, but Edwards sees too many other needs on the team than a rookie quarterback.

"Let's say you draft a quarterback in the first round," Edwards said. "I don't see a franchise quarterback out there. I haven't evaluated them, but I haven't heard enough that, 'This is Peyton Manning.' What does that tell you? What have you got? You might have the same guy you already have." *