It’s been 5 years since a New York team has made the playoffs. But the New York Giants are looking to end this streak in 2016, as they’re in excellent shaping heading into the last five weeks of the regular season.
Few could’ve foreseen this coming on the heels of three-straight losing seasons, including 6-10 marks in both 2014 and ’15. But new coach Ben McAdoo has breathed new life into this team, which is on the verge of making the playoffs.
Here’s a look at how the Giants stand in both their division and the Wild Card race:
NFC East Standings
1. Dallas Cowboys – 10-1
2. NY Giants – 8-3
3. Washington Redskins – 6-4-1
4. Philadelphia Eagles – 5-6
NFC Wild Card Race
1. Giants – 8-3
2. Redskins – 6-4-1
3. Minnesota Vikings – 6-5
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 6-5
T-5. Green Bay Packers – 5-6
T-5. New Orleans Saints – 5-6
T-5. Eagles – 5-6
As you can see, the Giants are in firm command of a Wild Card spot, and they likely only need one more win to seal a playoff berth. Their six game winning streak has also put them within two games of the division, which, with a victory over the Cowboys on Dec. 11, isn’t entirely unrealistic.
The biggest drawback to New York’s playoff chances is that their last five games are against teams with a collective record of 34-19-1. Even throwing out Dallas’ 10-1 record, they still have a 24-18-1 mark.
Do the Giants have enough to hold off any challenging Wild Card seekers, even with their tough remaining schedule? Let’s discuss the matter below by looking at the closest challengers.
Washington Redskins (6-4-1; 3rd in NFC East)
The Redskins offense is rolling, with Kirk Cousins throwing 11 touchdowns and just 1 interception in the last five contests. This team is also 6-2-1 after starting the season off 0-2. The only two games that they’ve lost in the last nine contests were by a combined 8 points to road teams (Cowboys, Lions). Don’t expect Washington to cool off any time soon because their next four games are against losing teams.
Minnesota Vikings (6-5; 2nd in NFC North)
Once a 5-0 team with Super Bowl aspirations, Minnesota is now fighting for their playoff lives. With Adrian Peterson likely sidelined for the year, the Vikings rushing attack is arguably the league’s worst. Given that Sam Bradford has never been a dynamic playmaker in his career, this is bad news because it puts more pressure on the passing game. But the good news is that Minnesota has an elite defense that keeps them in games. The Vikings play a tough game against Dallas tonight, but after this they end the season with four straight opponents with sub .500 records.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5; second in AFC South)
It was beginning to look like a very Tampa Bay season when they were 3-5. However, they’ve won three straight games to jump back into the race, including victories at Kansas City and Seattle. Defense has been the name of the game ever since they gave up a combined 73 points to Oakland (Oct. 30) and Atlanta (Nov. 3). The Bucs look solid on both sides of the ball, but they’ll continue being tested against elite offenses in New Orleans (twice), Dallas, and San Diego.
Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles – All 5-6
New York doesn’t need to worry about these teams because, with 5 games left, the chances of any of these squads catching the Giants is very small. However, it wouldn’t be crazy to see one of these teams go 4-1 down the stretch and secure a playoff spot at 9-7. New York currently has tiebreakers over Philly and New Orleans, but Green Bay holds an edge over the Giants because they beat them on Oct. 9.
Also note that the Detroit Lions (7-4) and Atlanta Falcons (7-4) are currently winning their divisions, but they could also drop into the Wild Card hunt if they lose.
Can the Giants Still Win the NFC East?
As mentioned before, New York isn’t totally out of the NFC East race. In fact, they’re the only team even close to Dallas, and they get to face them in the Meadowlands on Dec. 11.
Odds are that the Cowboys will win most of their games up to this point, forcing New York to win if they want the division crown. But Dallas also has a tough schedule since they face five playoff-hungry teams in the Vikings, Giants, Buccaneers, Lions, and Eagles. Even in the worst-case scenario, Dallas will probably get 12 wins, which is an incredibly high bar for New York to win the East and possibly get a first-round bye.
With an upcoming schedule that includes @Pittsburgh, Dallas, Detroit, @Philadelphia, and @Washington, the Giants will likely be content with a Wild Card spot.