Will the New York Giants make the playoffs this season? They are, of course, alone in first place in the NFC East as they enjoy their bye week, but that may not be the case when they return to action in Week 12. Both the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins can tie them atop the standings with victories this weekend. The 2-7 Dallas Cowboys still think they have a chance with Tony Romo returning.
Why the Giants will make it
The Giants will make the playoffs because this is how Giants teams under Tom Coughlin have pretty much always done it. Play mediocre football for a long stretch but do just enough to have a chance late in the season, then find some magic and go on a run. Twice that has led to Super Bowl titles. It's a big stretch to think that will happen again, but the Giants are at least set up for one of those patented late-season runs. Besides, this is the fourth year since the last title and if you buy into the whole "every four years" theory the time is now.
On the field, the Giants defense is getting healthier and should be getting better. They lost Johnathan Hankins, but Jason Pierre-Paul is making an impact, Prince Amukamara is set to return and Jasper Brinkley has been a revelation at middle linebacker. Offensively, Eli Manning is having an excellent statistical season. We have, however, not seen the Giants' offense string together several good games in a row. You have to believe that is coming.
Why the Giants won't make it
The Giants have lost four games this season in the final two minutes, three games on the final possession. They could have, and quite probably should have, won all four of those games. They would be 9-1 if all of those games had gone their way, and the division race would basically already be over. Even at 7-3 the Giants would pretty much be in control, probably needing to only go 3-3 the rest of the way and get to 10 wins to guarantee winning the division.
Now? You have wonder if all of those missed opportunities will haunt this team. They have left everyone, even the 2-7 Cowboys in the race. The Giants have not only been unable to finish games, they have continued what has really been a two- or three-year pattern of finding incredible, historical, unfathomable ways to lose games. They became the first team to open a season by losing back-to-back double-digit leads in the fourth quarter. They are the only team in NFL history to lose two games in the same season on 50+ yard field goals in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter.
The Giants have expressed hope that they will learn from their mistakes and finish some of these close games down the stretch. Problem is, they haven't consistently done that for several seasons.
When we last tested your confidence, 55 percent (1,630) of 2,974 voters said the Giants would make the playoffs by winning the NFC East title. Vote in this week's poll and let us know what you think now.
When we assessed all four NFC East teams earlier in the week, we showed that opinion remains split over which team has the best chance to win the division. The latest odds from Bovada (www.bovada.lv) have the Giants as 5-4 favorites, the Eagles at 8-5, Redskins 15-4 and Cowboys 12-1. Football Outsiders projects the Giants as the division winner, but it's a soft projection with the Giants' playoff odds listed at only 41.8 percent. ESPN's Football Power Index favors the Eagles. The FPI gives the Eagles a 54.1 percent chance to win the division, while giving the Giants only a 30.3 percent chance.
What do you think? Vote in the poll and let us know.