I’ve been trying to work a Dumb and Dumber reference into one of my articles for weeks.
Lloyd: “What do you think the chances are of a team like the NY Giants ending up in the playoffs?”
Mary: “Well, Lloyd, that’s difficult to say. I mean, they don’t really…”
Lloyd: “Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! The least you can do is level with me. What are their chances?”
Mary: “Not good.”
Lloyd: “You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?”
Mary: “I’d say more like one out of a million.”
Lloyd: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance…YEAH!”
In 1992 the San Diego Chargers started out the season (0-4). With Stan Humphries under center and Marion Butts in the backfield, the Chargers went on to win 11 of their next 12 games to take the AFC West crown and therefore qualify for post-season play. They are the only (0-4) team to ever make it into the playoffs and also the only (0-3) team to wind up winning a playoff game (17-0 over the Chiefs in the Wildcard game.)
When the Giants fell to (0-4) during this year’s campaign, safety Antrel Rolle made the news by boasting, “I believe we can go 12-0 from this point on.”
Of course New York followed with a dismal loss to the Eagles and then another loss to the Bears. So while San Diego’s story could certainly have been a beacon of hope for the Giants, (0-4) and (0-6) are hardly the same thing, certainly not in a 16 game season.
But What If Rolle’s Prediction Was Simply A Couple Weeks Off?
The Giants have looked pretty good of late, and with Sunday’s 27-13 win over the Green Bay Packers, they’ve extended their win streak to 4 games.
So is Lloyd Christmas right? Can Giants fans hold out hope that their team might sneak into the post-season?
Well, their chances are certainly a whole lot better than one in a million. The AFC East has been up for grabs all season, and while the Eagles seem poised to break away with the division behind Nick Foles’ arm and their own 3-game winning streak, Philly has two very losable games coming up after their BYE against the rising Cardinals and AFC North leading Lions. Not only could the Giants make the playoffs, but they could still win the division.
So How Can They Do It?
As Captain Obvious might say, “Keep winning.”
A win this week against the Cowboys would leave both teams tied behind the Eagles at (5-6), and with Philadelphia on BYE both clubs would sit a mere one game back from the lead.
Schedule-wise, none of the AFC East teams have a particularly easy road to the playoffs.
The Eagles schedule for the rest of the season is as follows: Cardinals, Lions, @Vikings, Bears, and @Cowboys. This means three games against teams with winning records and then two more on the road. After the Giants, the Cowboys have: Raiders, @Bears, Packers, @Redskins, and Eagles. The Raiders have been up and down this season but surprisingly competitive, and if Aaron Rodgers is back from injury the Pack is always tough.
While Washington is just as mathematically alive as the Giants, we’ll remove them from this discussion as New York plays the Redskins twice and really needs to win both games if the miracle is going to happen.
Just like their divisional rivals, none of the other games left on NY’s schedule are easy, either. Aside from the three games we’ve already mentioned, they will travel to San Diego and Detroit, and then also have the Seahawks at home.
Then again, momentum can take you a long ways in the NFL, and since the Eagles are unlikely to win out, the Giants can probably still lose one more game and have a solid chance at (9-7). There’s even a reasonable shot that crawling back for a .500 season will be good enough to enter the tie-breaker lottery depending on how the cards fall.
If New York played in the AFC, they’d be right in the thick of the Wildcard chase, but with the 49ers, Cardinals, Bears, and Lions all at (6-4), at least one of those teams ought to finish out at (10-6), which means that taking the division probably is the Giants’ only shot. The first Wildcard slot is all but sewn up with the Panthers (7-3) hot on the trail of the (8-2) Saints.
History Has A Way Of Repeating Itself
Ok. So. Let’s take a deep breath here. Statistically speaking here, this just isn’t going to happen.
The Giants started out (0-6) for a reason. Sure, Eli Manning was tossing interceptions out like free condoms at the health department, and three of their losses were to the Broncos, Panthers, and Chiefs, but it still takes a flawed team to lose six weeks in a row. Period.
And let’s look at their win streak. Yes, it’s the NFL, and every game is a battle, but wins over the Vikings, Raiders, and Rodgers-less Packers are not the kind of victories that lead one to believe that a team is poised to win out for the rest of the season.
Sure, stranger things have happened, but in all likelihood the Giants will go (3-3) at best in their remaining games. Sweeping a divisional opponent (Washington) is always tough, Seattle wins even when they don’t play well, and the Lions have averaged more than 32 points at home. Even the top teams in the league don’t generally string together win streaks over five or six contests.
But this is Eli Manning we’re talking about here. He’s the master of taking a mediocre/good team and leading them deep into the playoffs. In both 2007 and 2011, the two seasons that Manning hoisted the Lombardi trophy, the Giants entered the post-season as heavy underdogs.
So who knows? Perhaps Eli catches fire a bit early in 2013?
And that’s why I love the NFL. You just never know what’s going to happen until kick-off.