The Giants’ hopes for winning the NFC East died in Dallas on Sunday evening. It was a longshot hope anyway after their 1-7 start to the season. But they were eliminated when the Cowboys beat the Eagles in overtime, 29-23.
Over the last few weeks, though, a funny thing has happened: The NFC wild-card chase has opened up. The Giants still have a shot at that. In fact, if the Seattle Seahawks beat the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night, the Giants will be just 1 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot with three games to go.
Don’t get too excited. The Giants still have to win their final three games and they still need help from the five teams in front of them in the standings, and maybe at least one or two of the teams tied with them at 5-8. It would be a miracle, to be sure. Even if they do finish 8-8, the Giants are more likely than not to finish just short of their playoff goal.
But since it’s not impossible – yet – here’s a look at their competition for the two NFC wild-card spots:
1. Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
The best scenario for the Giants would be a win by the Seahawks over the Vikings on Monday night. The Seahawks have been rolling (three straight, five of seven) and have been on an offensive roll). They’d be out of reach with a win, but the Vikings would be a little closer.
Remaining games: vs. Vikings (6-5-1), @ 49ers (3-10), vs. Chiefs (11-2), vs. Cardinals (3-10)
2. Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1)
The Vikings have already clinched a better conference record than the Giants, and that’s the first tie-breaker. If they lose Monday night they’d be 2-4 in their last six. The way they’re playing, losing two of their last three isn’t crazy.
Remaining games: @ Seahawks (7-5), vs. Dolphins (7-6), @ Lions (5-8), vs. Bears (9-4)
3. Carolina Panthers (6-7)
They are in a total freefall, having lost five in a row. And with two games against the Saints, there’s a chance that streak could reach eight. Their best hope will be that the Saints have nothing to play for in Week 17.
Remaining games: vs. Saints (11-2), vs. Falcons (3-9), @ Saints (11-2)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
They played much better in their overtime loss in Dallas on Sunday, but their schedule is brutal the rest of the way. It’s easy to see them losing their next two, which would be enough for the Giants to climb over them. Oh, if only the Giants had hung on in Philly three weeks ago.
Remaining games: @ Rams (11-2), vs. Texans (9-4), @ Redskins (6-7)
5. Washington Redskins (6-7)
They are a mess and can’t be considered a serious factor in this race, not after losing two quarterbacks (Alex Smith, Colt McCoy) to broken legs. Their choice of starters for Sunday: Mark Sanchez or Josh Johnson. It might be a miracle if they win another game this year.
Remaining games: @ Jaguars (4-9), @ Titans (7-6), vs. Eagles (6-7)
6. Green Bay Packers (5-7-1)
They lost three straight games before head coach Mike McCarthy was fired and they responded with a win. Don’t count on a resurgence under interim coach Joe Philbin, though. The win came against the reeling Falcons.
Remaining games: @ Bears (9-4), @ Jets (4-9), vs. Lions (5-8)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8)
They’ve won two of their last seven games, which isn’t a way to go into the stretch, especially with tough road games at Baltimore and Dallas. Since they need to win out, that’s not good.
Remaining games: @ Ravens (7-6), @ Cowboys (8-5), vs. Falcons (3-9)
8. GIANTS (5-8)
They are as hot as anyone since their 1-7 start and are a second-half collapse against the Eagles away from riding a five-game winning streak. Even better, in their five games since the bye they’ve averaged 31.4 points per game. Just imagine if their finale at home against the Cowboys matters.
Remaining games: vs. Titans (7-6), @ Colts (7-6), vs. Cowboys (8-5)
9. Detroit Lions (5-8)
The good news for them is their schedule isn’t terrible the rest of the way. The bad news is they’ve also only won two of their last seven games.
Remaining games: @ Bills (4-9), vs. Vikings (6-5-1), @ Packers (5-7-1)