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Giants at Dolphins preview: Will the Giants ever deserve to win?

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The Giants are running out of time, and chances.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
"We'll win when we deserve to win."

Those were Tom Coughlin's words last Monday, a day after his New York Giants had blown a late-game lead for the fifth time this season, losing 23-20 to the New York Jets in overtime.

Giants' fans know the gory numbers. Five games lost by surrendering leads in the final two minutes. The Giants have led with less than two minutes to play in 10 of their 12 games. Yet, rather than comfortably leading an NFC East that begged them to take control for most of the season, the Giants are barely hanging on. A loss on Monday Night Football to the Miami Dolphins won't mathematically eliminate them from the division race, but with the Washington Redskins both already at 6-7 and holding tie-breaker advantages it will make mountain nearly impossible to climb.

So, when will the Giants deserve to win?

There is plenty of blame to go around for the Giants' mis-steps this season. Blame the coach for some clock mis-management and some against the book late-game decisions that, while he certainly had a plausible explanation for them, didn't work and leave him open to second-guessing. Blame GM Jerry Reese for too many poor drafts and too many free-agent decisions that have left the Giants' locker room devoid of real leadership, pass rushers, defensive difference-makers, offensive play-makers and quality depth. Blame quarterback Eli Manning for too often not playing like a two-time Super Bowl champion, 12-year veteran and borderline Hall of Famer at crunch time. Blame offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and an offense that hasn't been able to close games when it has had the opportunity. Blame defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and a group that barely knows the zip code of opposing quarterbacks and has failed time and again to make stops with a game on the line. Blame players in general for not making plays that have been right in front of them and NFL players should make.

It doesn't matter who you choose to blame. Everyone shares in the blame. It doesn't matter that the Giants could be 10-2. Remember what Bill Parcells always said:

"You are what your record says you are."

The Giants are a 5-7 football team on the precipice of a fourth straight playoff-less season because that's what they deserve to be.

Can they still turn things around, get to the playoffs, make all the missed opportunities a footnote to a season that will be remembered for a late-season charge? Sure. We have seen Coughlin-coached teams do it before.

"You're going to write the script on this team right here in the next four weeks. You're going to write what this team is really about," Coughlin told Giants.com. "Do they perform under pressure? Can they finish a ball game? You're going to be writing that."

Will these four games be an unhappy epitaph on Coughlin's long and successful coaching career? Will they mark yet another resurrection? Will they show us a young team that finally figures out how to win, or will they show a team that is either not good enough or has already packed it in and made offseason vacation plans?

This is a winnable game.

The Giants are favored by 2.5 points, and your Big Blue View staff writers have gone all in predicting a Big Blue victory. If the patched-together offensive line can hold up, there should be opportunities for the Giants. Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider tells us Miami's run defense isn't good and the Dolphins corners are suspect. The Dolphins are not an offensive juggernaut, 20th in the league in scoring and 27th in yards per game.

"We know our situation, we know what we need to do, and we just need to come out and do it," Odell Beckham Jr. said. "Opportunities present themselves, they come and go, and it's only a matter of which ones you seize and which opportunities you can take advantage of. So yeah, we've definitely lost many, many opportunities. It used to be a six-game season, had a big chance there, missed out on that, had another chance last week. We know there's only four games left and all four of them are important. Just got to go out and put our best foot forward, that's really it."

Can they? Do they even know which is their best foot, or will they stumble over them once again trying to figure it out? If they do, they may stumble right into the offseason.

Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. ET. Roughly three hours after that, we will know the answer.