Even a miracle needs a hand … or eight hands.
That’s what the Giants’ playoff hopes have been reduced to in the wake of their 1-7 start to the season. It’s actually remarkable that they’re even still in the NFC wild-card chase at 5-8, just 1 ½ games out of the final spot with three games to go. It’s not even impossible for them to get in at 7-9, which is how crazy — or perhaps awful — this race is.
Still, the Giants probably need to win their final three games, beginning on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. And they almost certainly need help from perhaps as many as seven other NFC teams. And they might need it fast from some of them, because if the Giants lose to the Titans they will be eliminated this weekend if either the Vikings, Redskins, Eagles or Panthers win.
That’s a lot to keep track of, obviously, and it’s also a lot to ask. So here’s a guide for what the Giants and their fans should be rooting for during the Week 15 games this weekend:
Tennessee Titans (7-6) at the GIANTS (5-8)
Obviously this is the key. Don’t count on a 7-9 Giants team making it. Besides, a loss would take away all their steam. Right now, they’re as hot as anyone in the NFL, having won four of five since their bye and averaging 31.4 points per game in that span. A win keeps hope alive another week, which is a miracle in itself.
Green Bay Packers (5-7-1) at Chicago Bears (9-4), 1 p.m.
The Packers seemed to be in turmoil when Mike McCarthy was fired after losing three straight games. They did rebound last week under interim coach Joe Philbin. But unless the Bears have a big letdown after what they did to the Rams last weekend, this game should put the Pack back on their downward spiral.
Detroit Lions (5-8) at Buffalo Bills (4-9), 1 p.m.
The Bills are pretty awful and they just lost to the Jets, which speaks for itself, so don’t count on help here. The good news, though, is the Lions aren’t a big threat. One loss down the stretch and they’re out of the Giants’ way.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) at Baltimore Ravens (7-6), 1 p.m.
The Bucs, at 2-5 in their last seven, don’t look like a match for the streaking Ravens, who have won three of four behind rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson and nearly took out the Chiefs last week. The Bucs are another team that doesn’t really pose a threat to the Giants, especially since the Giants already beat them earlier this season.
Miami Dolphins (7-6) at Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1), 1 p.m.
The Vikings have been absolutely reeling, going 2-4 in their last six including a near shutout loss in Seattle on Monday night that led to the firing of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. Maybe they get a short-term boost from that and returning home. The Giants, though, really have to hope the Dolphins don’t suffer a letdown after their Miami Miracle win over the Patriots and stay sharp in their own playoff chase.
Washington Redskins (6-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9), 1 p.m.
The Redskins are a mess, whether they start Josh Johnson or Mark Sanchez. The Giants exposed them as an injury-riddled team that has just about given up. Unfortunately for the Giants, pretty much the same can be said about the Jaguars. This is the Disaster Bowl. Two terrible teams playing a bunch of reserves in a game that could go either way. Hopefully for the Giants’ sake, the ‘Skins are the bigger mess.
Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) at Los Angeles Rams (11-2), 8:20 p.m.
The Rams at home, after getting humiliated by the Bears, figure to be a tough match for anybody. And the way the Eagles are playing right now, it’s hard to see them keeping up. They did play better against Dallas on Sunday, but NFC East games almost always seem to be close. This is a much different spot.
New Orleans Saints (11-2) at Carolina Panthers (6-7), 8:15 p.m. Monday night
The Panthers have lost five straight games and have to face the Saints twice in the final three games of the season. That’s a brutal way to end. Lucky for them, they get the Saints at home first. But the Saints have only lost once on the road this season and have won in some pretty tough places like Atlanta, Baltimore and Minnesota. With QB Cam Newton hurting, the Panthers might not have much fight left in them anyway.