The path for the New York Giants to earn the second NFC wild playoff berth is narrow and improbable. So improbable, in fact that FiveThirtyEight, using its Elo ratings, comes up with less than a 1 percent chance the Giants will make the playoffs.
But ... what if?
Odell Beckham Jr. is still believing.
“You know when we were 1-7 and I sat there and said I feel like we’re going to win every single game, the goal is to win every single game, it wasn’t me just throwing those words around. Now we’re in that position with the one little mishap, I still see us going 8-8 and I just feel like he’s (God) got a plan and it’s all going to fall together,” Beckham said. “Whoever needs to lose and this and that and all the pieces that need to fall in place, I feel like they’re going to fall in place and we’re going to be in the spot we want to be in.”
Because we can, because it’s just plain old fun to think about, let’s break down the probability of each domino the Giants need falling in their direction.
Win their final three games
All of these games are winnable. They are also games the Giants could easily lose. The Titans are mediocre, but at 7-6 they are fighting for an AFC playoff berth. They have a lot on the line Sunday. The Indianapolis Colts are 7-6, but they have Andrew Luck and have won six of seven. Cross your fingers on that one. The Cowboys? As much as you hate to do it, you have to root for them to have the NFC East title clinched before they come to MetLife Stadium in Week 17.
Verdict: A clean sweep that gets the Giants to 8-8 probably isn’t happening. For fun, though, let’s just play along and see what else the Giants need to happen.
Carolina Panthers lose two of final three games
Two games against the 11-2 Saints? Yes, thank you NFL schedule makers. Of course, New Orleans might not have anything to play for Week 17. The Falcons are 4-9, have lost five straight, and are playing out the string. Not much hope Atlanta can pull out a victory in Week 16.
Verdict: This presents a problem. Giants fans, you are now also Saints fans. Hope that Drew Brees & Co. are playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs Week 17.
Philadelphia Eagles lose two of final three games
Buckle up and pray that the defending champs lose to the Rams and Texans. Super Bowl hero Nick Foles will be at quarterback Sunday against the Rams and maybe the rest of the way. Hit your knees and say a second prayer that Foles has used up his quota of miracles.
Verdict: This could happen. The Rams and Texans are both better than the 2018 version of the Eagles.
Minnesota Vikings lose two of final three games
The Vikings were so embarrassed by their 21-7 loss on Monday to the Seattle Seahawks that they fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. The Vikings’ problem is really that they can’t fire the quarterback they wasted a guaranteed $84 million on, Kirk Cousins.
Verdict: The Dolphins are feeling good after their miracle win over the Patriots, but I don’t have much faith in the Lions and don’t know what to expect from the Bears with the division in hand. This could happen, mostly because the Vikings are mess on offense.
Green Bay Packers lose one of final three games
Opponents: @ Bears, @ Jets, vs. Lions
Mike McCarthy has already been fired, the Packers already got a victory for interim coach Joe Philbin. They are in that “what comes next?” limbo the Giants were in a year ago.
Verdict: This domino will fall.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose one of final three games
Opponents: @ Ravens, @ Cowboys, vs. Falcons
This team is not very good, and it’s not going on the road and winning back-to-back games.
Verdict: Another domino to fall in the Giants’ favor.
Washington Redskins lose two of final three games
Opponents: @ Jaguars, @ Titans, vs. Eagles
You saw the Redskins on Sunday vs. the Giants. They will have Josh Johnson, making his first start since 2011, at quarterback on Sunday. They will be lucky to win one game the rest of the way, much less two.
Verdict: This is happening.
All of this is probably not going to happen. The dream dies for good if the Giants lose a single game.
If they manage to win out, the obstacles are really the teams that need to lose two of three. So, pay attention to the Panthers, Eagles and Vikings.