The New York Giants play a meaningful January football game this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. As amazing as that seems after being 0-5 and 1-7, a victory could propel the Giants to the playoffs. Here are some of the story lines to follow, including a look at those playoff scenarios.
Playoffs? Yes, we’re talking playoffs
It’s unbelievable, of course. It is, though, reality. The Giants can become the worst playoff team ever if they win on Sunday and the Washington Football Team loses to the Philadelphia Eagles. Here are the scenarios;
- Washington will clinch the division if it defeats the Eagles.
- If the Football Team loses and the Cowboys defeat the Giants, the Cowboys will clinch.
- If the Football Team loses and the Giants defeat the Cowboys, the Giants will clinch.
Worst playoff team ever? That’s harsh, but record-wise would be true. The 2010 Seattle Seahawks currently hold that distinction, winning the NFC West with a 7-9 record.
To some, a losing team reaching the playoffs seems unfair. Especially when there will be a double-digit win AFC team that won’t make it. Still, these are the rules. Win your division, go to the playoffs. Whoever wins the NFC East doesn’t have to apologize for it.
This graphic from @SethWalder on Twitter pretty much sums it up:
Entering Sunday, the Giants could select anywhere from No. 3 if they lose to the Cowboys and a combination of other things happen, or No. 32 if they qualify for the playoffs and somehow go on to win the Super Bowl.
Here is the current draft order, per Tankathon:
1 Jacksonville (1-14)
2 NY Jets (2-13)
3 Miami (via Houston 4-11)
4 Atlanta (4-11)
5 Cincinnati (4-10-1)
6 Philadelphia (4-10-1)
7 Detroit (5-10)
8 NY Giants (5-10)
9 Carolina (5-10)
10 Denver (5-10)
11 Dallas (6-9)
12 LA Chargers (6-9)
13 Minnesota (6-9)
14 New England (6-9)
15 San Francisco (6-9)
16 Las Vegas (7-8)
17 Arizona (8-7)
18 Indianapolis (10-5)
19 Washington (6-9)
20 Chicago (8-7)
21 Jacksonville (via Rams, 9-6)
22 Cleveland (10-5)
23 Miami (10-5)
24 Baltimore (10-5)
25 Tennessee (10-5)
26 Tampa Bay (10-5)
27 NY Jets (via Seahawks, 11-4)
28 Pittsburgh (11-4)
29 New Orleans (11-40
30 Buffalo (12-3)
31 Green Bay (12-3)
32 Kansas City (14-1)
Tale of two offenses
Dallas enters Week 17 coming off its best Dak Prescott-less offensive performance of the season. The Cowboys compiled 513 total yards of offense in a 37-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16. Quarterback Andy Dalton had his best game as a Cowboy, throwing for 377 yards and 3 touchdowns. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had his best game of the season, as well, with 19 carries for 105 yards. After fumbling five times in the first six games, Elliott, has fumbled just once in his last eight games.
The Cowboys have now scored 30 or more points in each of their last three games.
The Giants? You know the score. There hasn’t been enough scoring. Not nearly enough.
The Giants are 31st in points per game (17.1) and yards per game (297.2). They have not cracked the 20-point barrier in any of their last five games. The Giants don’t have a 300-yard passing game this season. They haven’t scored a first-half touchdown since Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“We’re just looking ahead to Sunday vs. Dallas and hoping that we can put our best offensive performance on the field and our best quarterback performance,” quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski said on Tuesday. “If we’re ever going to do it now would be the best time.”
Umm, yeah. It would.
Dave’s final days?
Are these the final few days of Dave Gettleman’s tenure as GM? I’m not going to re-litigate the “should he stay or should he go?” argument. We’ve done that and you can read the various links in the sidebar to go through my assessment of Gettleman’s work over his three-year tenure.
Will Sunday’s outcome have an impact on what co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch decide to do at GM, or has that choice already been made? I don’t know what will happen. I continue to feel as though there are valid arguments to be made both for Gettleman to stay or go. I also continue to feel the most important factor will be how ownership perceives the working partnership between Gettleman and coach Joe Judge.
Holes in the zone
Over the past few games opposing offenses have found some holes in the zone coverages the Giants employ heavily on defense.
“The last few weeks we gave up some stuff inside. Everybody sees that,” said defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson. “We’ve just gotta do everything we can to make it harder on the quarterback to find the spots in the zone.”
To my eyes, that’s been less about issues with the coverage than it’s been about the time opposing quarterbacks have had to survey that coverage and wait for openings to develop. Given time they always will, regardless of whether the defense plays zone or man coverage.
Opposing quarterbacks have had plenty of time lately against a largely non-existent Giants’ pass rush. After a five-sack performance in their stunning upset of the Seattle Seahawks, the Giants’ pass rush has gone silent.
The Giants have just two sacks and six quarterback hits over the past three games against the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Over those three games, the Giants’ sack percentage of 2.11 is 30th in the NFL.
With Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Dalton Schultz and Ezekiel Elliott to throw the ball to Dalton will slice the Giants secondary up if the pass rush gives him time to do it.
Rooting for the Eagles
If the Giants defeat the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon, Giants fans will find themselves in a necessary but extremely uncomfortable position on Sunday night. They will have to temporarily morph into Philadelphia Eagles fans.
So, fortify yourself however you need to and do what must be done beginning at 8:20 p.m. ET.