The New York Giants did not get the job done Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, they need to scoreboard watch on Saturday — and perhaps into Monday night — to find out if they will clinch a playoff berth before heading to Washington for a Week 17 game against the Redskins.
Here are your NFC playoff scenarios and a guide to the games that could matter to the Giants during the remainder of Week 16.
According to the NFL’s official list of scenarios, the Giants will clinch a playoff berth with a loss by any of the following teams. Not a combination of losses, a single loss by the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Green Bay Packers. Ties by any of the Lions, Bucs, or Packers would also get the Giants to the playoffs. With that in mind, let’s look at the weekend matchups for those four teams. Check 506sports.com for the games on in your area on Saturday.
Atlanta Falcons (9-6) at Carolina Panthers (6-8)
When: Saturday, 12/24 (1 p.m. ET)
The Panthers played the role of spoiler Monday with a 26-15 victory over the Washington Redskins that helped clear the Giants’ playoff path. Root for Cam and Co. Saturday as they can not only plow the road for the Giants, but can actually give them a seat at the table.
Atlanta can clinch the NFC South title with a win and a loss by the Buccaneers.
Minnesota Vikings (7-7) at Green Bay Packers (8-6)
When: Saturday, 12/24 (1 p.m.)
Obviously, you have to root for the Vikings here. I would not, however, hold out much hope of a Minnesota victory. The Vikings looked like they had packed it in for 2016 a week ago in a 34-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The Packers will be at home, have won four straight, and are breathing down Detroit’s neck in the NFC North, just a game behind.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) at New Orleans Saints (6-8)
When: Saturday, 12/24 (4:25 p.m.)
My guess is that if neither the Packers nor Falcons lose, you might be a little bit edgy watching this game. The Saints have the reputation of being tough in the Super dome (they are always tough on the Giants there), but New Orleans is only 3-4 at home this season. This is another game I wouldn’t feel great about from a Giants perspective.
Detroit Lions (9-5) at Dallas Cowboys (12-2)
When: Monday, 12/16 (8:30 p.m.)
If the Falcons, Packers and Buccaneers all win on Saturday it will be full-blown three-alarm fire panic mode for Giants fans on Monday night. You will find yourself in the really, really, REALLY uncomfortable position of rooting for the Cowboys to win.
Yes, the Giants are the only team to defeat Dallas this year. Twice. Go ahead and thump your chests, Giants fans. Thing is, thanks to the Giants losing Thursday the Cowboys have clinched the NFC East. They have clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They have nothing to play for Monday night, while the Lions will be fighting to stave off Green Bay.
Motivation can be the difference in NFL games, and the fact that the Cowboys really don’t have any for Monday night can’t be comforting from a Giants perspective.