Since starting 0-6, the Giants have gone 5-1. At the moment, all paths to the playoffs — both via the division title and a wild-card spot — are open to them.
By this time next week, both roads may be closed off. The wild-card route is just about impassable already. A loss at San Diego on Sunday could end all postseason hopes.
However, if we were still pondering the Giants’ playoff chances next week, would you really be surprised? While their execution has sometimes been lacking, their resilience has impressed.
After all, they’re still in the playoff picture.
Here’s a closer look at where the Giants stand in both the NFC East and NFC wild-card races entering the final four weeks of the regular season:
NFC East Standings
1. Cowboys (7-5) — No. 4 seed in NFC
2. Eagles (7-5) — No. 7 seed in NFC
3. GIANTS (5-7) — No. 11 seed in NFC
4. Redskins (3-9) — No. 16 seed in NFC (eliminated from playoff contention)
New York’s remaining games: at San Diego (Dec. 8), vs. Seattle (Dec. 15), at Detroit (Dec. 22), vs. Washington (Dec. 29).
Outlook: Even if the Cowboys and Eagles win this week, the Giants can stay alive in the NFC East race with a victory Sunday at San Diego.
However, the Giants would be eliminated from division-title contention with a loss to the Chargers and a Cowboys win at Chicago on Monday night.
In that scenario, the Giants could finish no better than 8-8, and the Cowboys would finish no worse than 8-8.
If the Giants and Cowboys alone finish tied for the division title at season’s end, Dallas will win on account of its two-game sweep of New York.
Also, as we noted last week, the Giants would lose a three-way tiebreaker to the Eagles and Cowboys on account of their 1-3 combined record against Dallas and Philadelphia.
If the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles all tie, Dallas wins the division, as it would be no worse than a combined 3-1 against Philadelphia and New York. Philadelphia can finish no better than a combined 2-2 against Dallas and New York.
If the Eagles and Giants alone tie for the NFC East title, the club’s division records will be the first tiebreaker in play, as the teams split a pair of games. The Eagles are currently 3-2 in the NFC East, with the Giants 2-3 in division games.
In short, the best the Giants can do is 3-3 in the NFC East. They will have to beat Washington in the division finale to get there. They would also need the Eagles to lose at Dallas in Week 17. However, they would need the Eagles to finish ahead of the Cowboys. Again, the Giants will lose any season-ending tie with Dallas.
The longer the Giants stay in the playoff race, the more we can explore what exactly needs to happen for them to win the NFC East. Winning out would be a nice start.
NFC Wild-Card standings
5. Panthers (9-3)
6. 49ers (8-4)
7. Eagles (7-5)
8. Cardinals (7-5)
9. Bears (6-6)
10. Packers (5-6-1)
11. GIANTS (5-7)
12. Rams (5-7)
Outlook: The Giants are on the outer rings of wild-card contention. We know this much: a loss Sunday to San Diego and a San Francisco win vs. Seattle would eliminate Big Blue from the wild-card race. Also, any two wins by San Francisco in its next four games would do the trick, too.
The Giants would lose head-to-head ties with the Panthers, Bears . . . and yes, the Cowboys.