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NFC Playoff Picture: Seven Teams Don't Fit Into Five Spots

Head coach <strong>Tom Coughlin</strong> and the New York Giants have work to do in order to qualify for the NFC playoffs.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Head coach Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants have work to do in order to qualify for the NFC playoffs. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Tuesday I asked you guys how confident you are that the New York Giants will make the playoffs this season. The answer at this points seems to be VERY CONFIDENT. With more than 1,800 votes cast, 84 percent think the Giants (7-4) will still be standing once the regular season ends.

I love the confidence, and right now I also think the Giants are making the playoffs. That, however, doesn't mean it will be easy. Or that even if the Giants play well the next five weeks they will qualify.

Over at SB Nation New York earlier this week I took a look at the crowded NFC playoff picture. If you read that piece (and if not, why not?) or if you have been paying attention to the NFC standings you know that the road to the playoffs is filled with obstacles for the Giants.

The way I read it, once the division winners shake out there will be four good NFC teams vying for two wild-card spots. Somebody in the NFC is going to win 10 games and still get shut out of a wild-card berth. Let's hope it's not the Giants.

With all of that in mind, let's take a look at the remaining schedules for all the teams currently in the playoff hunt. We will skip the NFC West. We know somebody who isn't very good is winning that division, and that a wild-card team won't come from that group. We will, however, look at the rest of the contenders. Courtesy of the NFL PR Dept., we have a look at the remaining strength of schedule for the teams still in the thick of the playoff hunt. Here is the breakdown.

Team Record Opponent Record Winning Pct.
Philadelphia 7-4 22-33 .400
Giants 7-4 28-27 .509
Chicago 8-3 31-24 .564
Green Bay 7-4 30-25 .545
Atlanta 9-2 22-33 .400
New Orleans 8-3 31-24 .564
Tampa Bay 7-4 29-26 .527

Taking the NFC West out of the equation that makes seven teams for five spots. As you can see from the chart above the Giants face one of the tougher schedules among the contenders.

With two games against Washington, games at Minnesota and Green Bay and a home game against the Eagles, the Giants certainly face stiffer competition down the stretch than Philly as they fight for the NFC East crown. The Eagles host the Texans, have two games against the Cowboys, host Minnesota and come to New Meadowlands to see the Giants. As hard as it might be to stomach, for at least two of the next five weeks we as Giants fans need to root for the Cowboys. They could do us a huge favor with at least one victory over Philadelphia.

Now, all of this looking ahead is nice. It gives us an overview of the picture as we come down the stretch. I agree with the players I spoke with the other day, though, who said basically that all the Giants can do is focus on trying to win win each week. If they can do that, everything else will take care of itself.

The scenarios will change every week. That, however, is where we stand right now. Time is growing short, and the Giants' margin for error is razor-thin.