The Giants’ Less-Than-One-Percent Path to the Postseason

The Giants still have a chance to reach the postseason and it all will take is a miracle

New York Giants

I keep thinking about the moment right before Graham Gano kicked a 63-yard game-winning field goal against the Giants back in Week 5.

As Gano lined up, I had a sick feeling in my stomach. The chances of winning were in favor of the Giants as Gano would need to drill a field goal a yard shot of the all-time record, but as a Giants fan, I knew that math and science and odds and probability could be thrown out the window. When you’re dealing with the New York Football Giants, especially during the Eli Manning era (it’s sad I can’t refer to it anymore as the Tom Coughlin era anymore), there’s no statistical information that could discount the team involved.

Part of me thought maybe the kick would sail to the right or left and miss the uprights or fall short of crossbar, or maybe just maybe the Giants might even block it and never let it get to that point. But the Giants fan in me knew what was going to happen the moment Ron Rivera decided against a Hail Mary pass and opted to try to a field-goal attempt from the other side of the 50.

That 63-yard field goal essentially ended the Giants season. Sure, at 1-4 they could still go an a ridiculous 9-2 run and win 10 games or possibly get a playoff spot with an 8-3 finish if things broke right. But the Giants had given away four of their first five games of the season and for a team that had was now 4-17 since the start of 2017, only an idiot could envision them win eight or nine of their last 11 games.

Then at 4-7 and holding on to their dwindling postseason odds, the Giants took a 19-3 lead over the Eagles to halftime. Missed opportunities, turnovers, bad play calls and poor in-game management prevented the 16-point lead from being even bigger and putting the game out of reach in the first half. Sure enough, in the second half, the Giants went away from everything that got them their two-possession lead, and they eventually lost.

Now the Giants are a disappointing 5-8 when they could have easily been 7-6, but even at three games under .500 they are somehow still mathematically alive for a playoff berth. Five things need to happen in the final three weeks of the season for the Giants to reach the playoffs:

1. Giants win out
2. Vikings lose two of three
3. Panthers lose two of three
4. Eagles lose two of three
5. Packers lose one of three

That might seem like a lot of things that have to happen, and it is, but that’s what happens when you’re 5-8 and trying to reach the playoffs: a lot of shit has to go your way. Let’s break down each of the five steps to see if there’s any reason to even root for what is being considered a less-than-one percent chance of the Giants reaching the playoffs.

1. Giants win out
The Giants are home this week against the 7-6 Titans who are playing for their own postseason life. The Titans will be well rest after playing at home on Thursday Night Football in Week 14 and will have more than two days of extra rest than the Giants. The Titans are a great home team (5-1), but a bad road team (2-5) and their defense won’t exactly be seeing the Cody Kessler-led Jaguars offense this week.

The Giants go on the road to play the Colts in Week 16. This will be the hardest of their last three games to win, considering the currently 7-6 Colts will be playing for a postseason berth and have gone 6-1 since their 1-5 start with the return of Andrew Luck and a revamped and at-times dominant offensive line.

In the season finale, the Giants host the Cowboys. By this time, the Cowboys will have wrapped up the division and if the way they handled the final weeks of the season with the division clinched two years ago is any indication, the Giants can expect to see the Cowboys starters for very minimal time.

It’s easy to see the Giants winning this week, considering they are 3-point home favorites, and in Week 17 where the Cowboys will have nothing to play for. They will need to pull off an upset on the road in Week 16, however, for this whole plan to work.

2. Vikings lose two of three
A long time ago, this would have seemed impossible. But a long time ago, the Vikings were legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Now they are playing to hold on to the 6-seed and go on the road to Chicago — where they already lost this season — in the first round. Kirk Cousins has destroyed the Vikings offense and his embarrassing play has now reached the coaching staff and the loss of his offensive coordinator’s job. An all-time collapse by this Vikings team could lead to Mike Zimmer being fired and even Rick Spielman as this team hosted the NFC Championship Game a year ago and then handed out an $84 million contract to a bad quarterback, which has set the team back substantially.

The Vikings host the Dolphins this week, and after the Dolphins saved their season with a miracle play last week, these two teams are headed in opposite directions. Then the Vikings go to Detroit in Week 15 where better teams than the Vikings have lost this season, and then they finish at home against the Bears in Week 17, in what could be the first of back-to-back week matchups with the two division rivals.

3. Panthers lose two of three
The Panthers are in the middle of their own collapse like the Vikings as the two playoff teams from a year ago have left the door open for the Giants. The Panthers were 6-2 a little over a month ago and now they are 6-7 after five straight losses, including the last two to the Buccaneers and Browns.

The Panthers host the Saints this week and go to New Orleans in Week 17. Sandwiched between their two games with the current NFC No. 1 seed (who will surely want to hold on to that spot and avoid going to Los Angeles for the NFC Championship) is a home game against the Falcons, who have nothing to play for other than to save their head coach’s job. I’m not sure if the Falcons want to save his job (I wouldn’t), but he will be coaching to save his job and that will mean pulling out all the stops to improve his record.

4. Eagles lose two of three
It’s understandable for the Eagles to have a letdown year following the team’s first-ever Super Bowl win. And after last week’s crushing overtime loss in Dallas, which all but took the Eagles out of contention for the division, it would be easy to see them pack it in and lay down over the last three weeks.

The Eagles are going to win in Week 17 in D.C. because right now the Redskins are the worst team in football with a combination of Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson at quarterback. That means they need to lose their other two games, which are at the Rams and at home against the Texans. The Rams’ disgusting play in Chicago last week all but guarantees a win this week and the Texans’ need to fend off the Colts and Titans in the AFC South race and secure their own playoff berth ensures the Texans will come to play in Week 16.

5. Packers lose two of three
The Packers could very well lose to the Bears this week (I think they will) and clinch their role in helping the Giants reach the playoffs. But if the Bears lose at home this week, the Giants would need the Jets or Lions to step up in the next two weeks to complete the plan.

If I had to rank in order from the most likely to happen to the least likely to happen of these five things, I would rank them:

1. Panthers lose two of three.
2. Eagles lose two of three.
3. Packers lose one of three.
4. Giants win out.
5. Vikings lose two of three.

If the Giants don’t reach the postseason and miss out by one game, you can think back to the Gano field goal. And if they miss it by two games, just remember the 19-3 halftime lead over the Eagles that was eventually blown.

The rest of the NFC gave the Giants countless chances to save their season and they never took advantage of it. They have one last chance, but they need a miracle.