It's no secret around here that we've been paying closer attention to the fortunes of Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys and Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins as the season bears towards the home stretch, and the NFC East division crown and wild card spots come into focus.
But with two division rivals nipping at Big Blue's heels, the Giants can look not only behind them at the 'Skins and the 'Boys, but in front of them at the possibility of of securing not only the division, but a bye week in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs.
First, a look at the long but possible shot at the #1 or #2 spot
Currently, all three leaders of the NFC West (9-3-1 San Francisco 49ers), NFC North (9-4 Green Bay Packers), and NFC South (11-2 Atlanta Falcons) have better records than the Giants.
If the Giants win out, and most presume they need to in order to make the postseason anyway, they'd finish at 11-5 and, having defeated each of these division winners, would own the tiebreakers. The Giants would need at least two of the following scenarios to clinch a bye week:
- San Francisco would need to lose two of three, finishing 10-5-1 (remaining schedule: at New England Patriots, at Seattle Seahawks, vs. Arizona Cardinals). Seattle's hot and will be playing for a wild card.
- Green Bay would need to lose one of three, finishing 11-5 (remaining schedule: at Chicago Bears, vs. Tennessee Titans, at Minnesota Vikings). Yet another reason to hope Brandon Marshall goes off for our fantasy team this week!
- Falcons would need to lose three straight, finishing 11-5 (remaining schedule: vs. NYG, at Detroit Lions, vs. Tampa Bay). This might seem the longest shot, but hey, they looked really bad last week and Big Blue can start them on a slide this week.
The Giants may not be as close to a bye week as the Redskins and Cowboys are to them, but they still have a fair shot at some much-needed rest for Hakeem Nicks and his knee, Eli Manning and his arm, and Ahmad Bradshaw and his whole body, if they can start the playoffs now and win down the stretch.
Second, just how close are the Cowboys and Redskins?
About as close as possible. Both teams are 7-6, one game behind the Giants…and unfortunately it looks all but certain that both teams will own a division record tiebreaker over Big Blue (it looks there is a weird longshot scenario or two that could push the tiebreaker to the NFC conference record, where the Giants have an advantage).
But in essence, the Giants need to keep pace with both teams, finishing with an equal or better record over the next three games. Both teams, however, face challenges.
- Dallas (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, vs. New Orleans Saints, at Washington) has a lot going on and on top of it all, looks like they're going to lose Dez Bryant for the season. Whether their offense can overcome the loss of Bryant, and whether they can keep playing hard in the face of an unimaginable tragedy remains to be seen.
- Washington (at Cleaveland Browns, at Philadelphia Eagles, vs. Dallas Cowboys) is, if you haven't heard, dealing with a Grade 1 sprain to the LCL of quarterback and offensive engine Robert Griffin III. Coach Mike Shanahan is saying it's possible Griffin will play, but Washington's leading receiver Pierre Garcon basically admitted that Kirk Cousins will start against the Browns next week.
Of course, at the end of the day the Giants control their own destiny the next three weeks; win and they're in. Handle their own business and the standings won't matter.
Also…Ahmad Bradshaw, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Dez Bryant, Eli Manning, Football, Green Bay Packers, Hakeem Nicks, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
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