Can the New York Giants really go from 0-5 to division champions in the NFC East, the league’s weakest division?
It’s still not likely after the Giants’ victory Sunday over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles still have the lead in the division, they have one more game to play than the Giants do, and their tie with the Cincinnati Bengals might end up being a difference-maker.
Winning the division, though, is within the Giants’ reach.
Football Outsiders gives the Giants a 26.5 percent chance of winning the division, with the Eagles still at 48.5 percent.
Five Thirty Eight has the Giants finishing 5-11 with a 23 percent chance of winning the division, while Philadelphia has a 53 percent chance with an expected 6-9-1 record.
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Giants a 20 percent chance, while the Eagles are at 63.5 percent.
Team Rankings puts the Giants’ chance of winning the division at 20.4 percent, with the Eagles at 60 percent.
So, the percentages, the tie the Eagles have and the fact that Philly has one more game to play are all working against the Giants.
But, hey, it is mid-November and we are discussing Giants’ playoff probabilities rather than already being hyper-focused on where they will land in the draft. That’s a good thing.
One thing that might work in the Giants’ favor is that the combined records of the six teams they still have to play — the Bengals, Seahawks, Cardinals, Browns, Ravens and Cowboys is 28-25-1 (.527). The combined records of the seven teams the Eagles have to play — the Browns, Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Cardinals, Cowboys, Football Team) — is 36-27 (.571). So, on paper, a slightly more difficult schedule for Philadelphia.
There are some nationally-respected voices who believe the Giants will end up on top.
Peter King wrote this on Monday:
Look at the Giants. Last five games for the G-men: Beat Washington at home, blew a late-10 point lead to lose in Philly, handed a Monday-nighter to Tampa, won at Washington, beat the Eagles by 10 Sunday in New Jersey. The Giants are a game behind the Eagles entering New York’s bye week, but by all accounts this is a better team right now with a defense playing better every week, and a quarterback finally—the franchise hopes—cutting down on the turnovers. The 27-17 win over the Eagles was Jones’ 22nd start in the NFL, and the first in which he had neither a fumble nor an interception.
“Protecting the ball is an important part of the game, and something I need to do better,” Jones told me post-game. “I’m continuing to focus on that and working to improve that week in and week out. There’s drills we’ve worked on and protecting the ball in the pocket. Keep two hands on the ball in the pocket. Simulating a rush, simulating stepping up in the pocket and keeping it protected. And I think it goes into decision-making, when to take risks, when not to take risks.”
That killed Jones and the Giants against Tampa, with two awful interceptions. If Sunday wasn’t an outlier and Jones can fix the giveaways, that Giants can be the best team in this bad division. Imagine a January NFC wild card rematch with Tom Brady in New Jersey.
Giants coach Joe Judge said Sunday evening that the standings are “irrelevant.”
“The only thing that matters is we keep improving as a team and go 1-0 every week. The overall standings, we’re not going to look at those, we’re not going to focus on those; that’s not an emphasis in our organization,” Judge said. “We’ve got to keep improving as a team to give ourselves a chance to be the best program we can be.”
Judge is right, but it’s still nice to see the light at the end of what has been a long, dark tunnel.
It’s Ok to dream, just a little bit.