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Playoffs? Let’s talk realistically about the Giants’ playoff chances

There is still a chance, but it isn’t a very good one

Las Vegas Raiders v New York Giants
Keion Crossen (31) and Cam Brown celebrate the Giants’ victory over Las Vegas.
Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Playoffs? Yes, thanks to being part of the muddled and mediocre NFC, the 3-6 New York Giants still have a slim shot at one of the conference’s final two wild-card spots.

Here is a look at the NFC standings entering Week 10

Now, let’s be realistic. The chances of the Giants going from 1-5 to the NFC playoffs are not great.

So, no one is pounding the table at this point and actually saying they believe the Giants will rise from the ashes of their 0-3/1-5 start and snag a playoff berth. There is a chance, though, and no clear front-runners for those final two wild-card spots. So, let’s discuss it.

The 5-3 New Orleans Saints are currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC, holding the second wild-card spot. With Trevor Siemian at quarterback the rest of the way and the NFL’s 12th hardest schedule based on opponents’ winning percentage (.513) it is impossible to have confidence that the Saints will hold on to a playoff spot. The various projection sites mentioned above put New Orleans’ chances at anywhere from 65 to 82 percent, but the Saints seem vulnerable.

The No. 7 seed is the 4-4 Atlanta Falcons. The Giants should have beaten the Falcons in Week 3, and I still believe the Giants are the better team. Atlanta has beaten the Giants, Jets, Dolphins and pulled off an upset of the Saints. Their schedule is ranked as the 22nd most difficult, with an opponents’ winning percentage of .486 the rest of the way.

The Carolina Panthers are 4-5 and fading fast after a 3-0 start.

The Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers are 3-5 entering Week 10. I would venture a guess at this point that one of those teams will make a strong playoff run the rest of the way. The Vikings (.519 opponents’ winning percentage) have the toughest remaining schedule of the group. They face the Packers twice, the Chargers, Steelers, Rams and 49ers. The Seahawks will be bolstered by the return of Russell Wilson. The 49ers? Hard to figure, and hard to trust.

The Eagles have matched the Giants to this point with a 3-6 record. They are projected at this point to have a better chance to make the playoffs than the Giants. Team Rankings gives Philly an 18.4 percent chance, FiveThirtyEight an 18 percent chance, the Football Power Index a 6.2 percent chance and Football Outsiders a 17.3 percent chance.

The Eagles’ remaining strength of schedule (.418), including two meetings with the Giants, is on paper the easiest of any of the teams listed here. They are ahead of the Giants in the playoff standings because they are 3-4 in conference as opposed to the Giants’ 2-4 mark.

Can the Giants get to 9 wins?

In a 17-game season, it is probably going to take at least that many victories to earn one of the three wild-card spots. That means the Giants would have to go 6-2 over their final eight games.

Reality is, they probably are not going to pull that off. The Giants’ remaining strength of schedule (.441 opponents’ winning percentage) is among the league’s easiest, 27th overall. Still, it includes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers, two games with the Eagles and one with the Washington Football Team.

The Giants should get healthier. Running back Saquon Barkley, wide receiver Sterling Shepard and left tackle Andrew Thomas should all be back Week 11 against the Buccaneers, or shortly thereafter. That will help.

If the Giants manage to get to seven or eight wins, which is realistic if they continue to play like they have over their 3-3 stretch in their last six games, they are going to be haunted by the Week 2 and 3 losses to Washington and Atlanta. Those games should have landed in the win column, and ultimately could be ones they can’t overcome.