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Giants vs. Panthers preview: Do Giants have any miracles left?

They will need one today against the unbeaten Panthers.

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Anyone who has been a follower of the New York Giants for any length of time knows this is a team that never does anything the easy way. That seems to have been the case for decades now, and the 2015 season is no exception. The Giants have given away opportunity after opportunity this season -- losing five games they led in the final two minutes. The NFC East, though, has continued to give the Giants chances.

Time, though, is running out. And while opportunity remains, the path is now extremely difficult. In fact, it gets no more difficult than what the Giants face on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium -- the 13-0 Carolina Panthers.

Technically tied for the division lead but facing tie-breaker disadvantages, the Giants need to win games. That won't be easy against Carolina.

"We have to pride ourselves on feeling like we can play and compete with anybody in this league. We have, for the most part. We had a chance to win every game that we've been in at the end, except for the Philadelphia game," said defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. "For us, we've just have to go in and know that it's going to be a game, it's going to be a physical game, but it's going to be a game that we can also win if we do what we're supposed to do."

Ah, that. The Giants have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on five occasions this season. Thus, leaving themselves in a precarious position and facing an unenviable task against an opponent they should not beat. The Panthers are 5-point favorites.

"We've competed with everybody, but the thing that we have to do is just finishing the games," Jenkins said. "We've proved that we can compete with people for three quarters, but what we haven't proved is that we can finish games on a consistent basis."

The Giants have a history of winning when they shouldn't. In 1998, a 5-8 Giants team knocked off a 13-0 Denver Broncos team. In 2007, the Giants turned the 18-0 New England Patriots into the 18-1 Patriots in the Super Bowl. In 2011, they again upset the Pats in the Super Bowl.

The Giants have the same coach and quarterback as they did then, but a vastly different cast of characters around them. It has been a very long time since the Giants won a very big game against a really good opponent with a start quarterback. You could argue, in fact, that the last time the Giants did that was when they knocked off Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, 38-10, in Week 12 of the 2012 season. There have been some nice wins since then, but none that could really be called a big one against a top-flight team with a star quarterback.

Can the Giants change that today?

The Giants can't be eliminated from playoff contention today. Things could get awfully difficult for them, though, if they lose to Carolina and both the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles win. An upset of the Panthers would brighten the picture considerably.

Winning out is the Giants' best hope of making the playoffs. It's the situation they have created for themselves, and they have only themselves to blame. They are also the ones who can fix it.

"I always look at it that way," said head coach Tom Coughlin. "One game at a time, but we're in a position where you have to rely on yourself. The only way you can do that is to go out and play your best."

Winning last Monday night in Miami was a good start, but that's all it was. During the Coughlin era we have seen the Giants dig themselves out of similar situations a numbers of times. They will, however, have to player better -- for 60 minutes -- than we have seen the Giants play in a long time to pull this one off.

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