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The Fifth Down: What Giants Need to Make the Playoffs

The answer is they need a lot. Let’s take a closer look.

Records of contenders for N.F.C. East and for N.F.C. wild cards
The Redskins, the Vikings and the Bears are 9-6.
The Cowboys and the Giants are 8-7 but have some tiebreaker advantages.

Division
The Giants can’t win the division because even if everything fell their way Sunday, they would lose out in a three-way tiebreaker with a 3-3 division record (the Cowboys and the Redskins would be at 4-2). Washington will win the N.F.C. East if it beats Dallas at home. The Cowboys will win the division if they beat the Redskins. The Redskins would still have a chance to win a wild-card berth with a loss but would need both Chicago and Minnesota to lose.

Wild-card berth
The Giants can advance, but …
1) They have to beat Philadelphia.
2) They need Dallas to lose or tie against Washington.
3) They need Minnesota to lose to Green Bay.
4) They need Chicago to lose against Detroit.

Matchups
1) The Giants will be a significant favorite at home against the Eagles. But Philadelphia may be motivated by a) having the chance to eliminate a division rival and b) giving Coach Andy Reid a winning send-off.
2) The Redskins will be favored by a few points to beat the Cowboys at Washington.
3) The Packers will be favored by a few points to beat the Vikings, but Minnesota has more at stake. Green Bay will be playing for seeding and a bye; Minnesota will compete for its playoff life. Adrian Peterson’s chase for the rushing record may also lift the Vikings.
5) The Bears will be favored by a few points against the crumbling Lions at Detroit. (The Bears would make the playoffs with a win over the Lions and a Vikings loss.)

Extra point By my rough math, the Giants have about an 8.5 percent chance of advancing (this number was updated after a closer look at the oddsmakers’ lines).
For more on the playoff possibilities across the N.F.L, see Chase Stuart’s post at FootballPerspective.com

7:13 a.m. | Updated
To answer a reader’s question from an earlier post, here’s how the Cowboys would edge the Redskins if they each finished at 9-7. (Their game has been moved to prime time Sunday.)
From Dan Graziano of ESPN.com:

The first tiebreaker is head-to-head record, and they would be 1-1 against each other. The second tiebreaker is record within the division, and they would each be 4-2 against NFC East opponents. The third tiebreaker is record in games played against common opponents, and that’s where the Cowboys would win it. They and the Redskins have 12 common-opponent games, and the Cowboys are 8-4 in those while the Redskins are 7-5.

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