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Assessing the Giants' Playoff Chances

Giants' division hopes shine brighter, but wild card a long shot

By Michael Wilkening
|  Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013  |  Updated 1:46 AM EDT
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PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27: Safety Antrel Rolle #26 of the New York Giants celebrates with teammates linebacker Jon Beason #52 and cornerback Terrell Thomas #24 after making an interception on a pass intended for tight end Brent Celek #87 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 27, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Giants defeated the Eagles 15-7. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

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With the Giants just 1.5 games back in the NFC East, let us take stock in where they stand in the playoff picture as they prepare to face the Packers on Sunday.

What follows is a look at the Giants’ division-title and wild-card circumstances:

NFC East Standings

1.    Cowboys (5-4)
2.    Eagles (5-4)
3.    GIANTS (3-6)
4.    Redskins (3-6)

Giants’ remaining games: vs. Green Bay (Sunday), vs. Dallas (Nov. 24), at Washington (Dec. 1), at San Diego (Dec. 8)**, vs. Seattle (Dec. 15), at Detroit (Dec. 22), vs. Washington (Dec. 29).
 
** — non-conference game

Analysis: For the moment, the Cowboys are in the catbird seat in the East. They have beaten every other team in the division once, giving them the head-to-head tiebreaker over their three rivals. Moreover, the Cowboys’ 3-0 cumulative division mark is another important tiebreaker. (For reference, here are the NFL's tiebreaking rules.)

The Giants hold third place over the Redskins on account of a better division record (1-2 vs. 0-2).

The Eagles host the Redskins Sunday in an important divisional matchup. If the Eagles win, they will take a half-game lead over the Cowboys — on bye this week — for the division lead. A Redskins victory, meanwhile, would put them one game behind the Eagles and 1.5 games behind the Cowboys.

A Redskins win and a Giants loss to the Packers would give Washington sole possession of third place in the East. However, if the Giants and Redskins each win, the Giants will keep third place, as they would have the better record in games against common opponents. The two December meetings between the Giants and Redskins could be key in separating the two teams.

Also, the Giants can ill-afford a loss to Dallas next week. A Cowboys win would give them the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Giants. That could be devastating to Big Blue.

NFC Wild-Card standings

Wild-card teams
5.    Panthers (6-3)
6.    49ers (6-3)
Other contenders
7. Cardinals (5-4)
8. Bears (5-4)
9. Packers (5-4)
10. Eagles (5-5)
11. Rams (4-6)
12. GIANTS (3-6)
13. Redskins (3-6)
14. Falcons (2-7)
15. Vikings (2-7)
16. Buccaneers (1-8)

Analysis: At best, the Giants’ path to a wild-card spot is heavily cluttered, if not nearly impassible.

The Giants, who are three games out of the final playoff spot, have head-to-head losses against the Panthers and Bears, which would leave Big Blue on the wrong end of the first wild-card tiebreaker in a tie with Carolina or Chicago.

For the record, the Giants would move into 11th place in the NFC with a win vs. the Packers on Sunday on account of a better conference record than St. Louis. A loss would make the wild-card climb that much more difficult for Tom Coughlin's club.

With conference record a key tiebreaker, the Giants need to win the vast bulk, if not all, of their six remaining NFC games to optimize their wild-card chances.

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