Giants are must-watch with NFL madness making anything possible

Giants are must-watch with NFL madness making anything possible

OK. At the top, let’s get this out of the way: this column was not written with the aid of any hallucinogens. The author — your humble narrator — has consumed nothing stronger than a large Dunkin’ Donuts iced tea. Unsweetened. We need to make that clear.

Because what follows is a column about the Giants and the playoffs.

(Go ahead, get it out of your system. We could all use a good guffaw after living through 2020 so, yes, be my guest, let it out. Let it go. It is equal parts preposterous and hilarious and delusional. We get that. Bring forth your LOLs.)

And we’ll say it here: the Giants are almost certainly not going to win the NFC East, which is the only way any of the four members of the NFC East are going to make the playoffs. Football Outsiders listed their playoff chances Monday afternoon at 12.3 percent. More to the point, we’ve all seen the Giants play football; our eyes tell us that feels high by about 12.2 percent.

Still.

We are 100 percent certain about three things:

1. The NFC East is, to put it nicely, awful.

2. The Eagles are banged up. The Cowboys lost their quarterback. Washington is just flat brutal, and seems intent on battling the Jets for the right to dream about Trevor Lawrence.

3. This would not be unprecedented. Twice in non-strike seasons, a team has finished with a losing record and won its division — meaning it didn’t just qualify for the postseason, it actually got a home game out of it.

The first, in 2010, was the Seahawks, who finished 7-9 in Pete Carroll’s first season, won a tie-breaker with the Rams for first place, and then beat the 11-5 Saints in Seattle in the first round of the playoffs — all amid squeals and squawks about how the presence of a losing team defiled all that is right and holy about the NFL playoffs.

The second, four years later, was the Panthers, who started the year 3-8-1 — which, by my calculations, is every bit as treacherous a water as starting a year 0-5 — and then somehow won four games in a row to finish 7-8-1 and win the NFC South. They, too, won their playoff opener, at home against the Cardinals.

You may be familiar with who that Panthers team’s GM was. A fellow by the name of Dave Gettleman.

“I think we learned a lot more about how to be successful last year than we did this year,” Gettleman would say 13 months later, in Santa Clara, Calif., for Super Bowl 50, at which point the Panthers were sitting at 17-1 and heavily favored to beat the Broncos. “You figure things out when it seems like the world is against you and when we were 3-8-1 last year, that’s exactly how things felt.”

OK. History is nice. History is helpful. History is a wonderful guidepost. So history tells us: sure, anything could happen.

But it’s what’s happening in real time that really makes you wonder. The Giants are a mess, there is no getting around that, and they were quite fortunate to beat Washington 20-19 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. But look at their neighbors:

  • If not for the Jets, the WFT might already be able to tailor a burgundy-and-gold No. 16 for Lawrence (and, wouldn’t you know it, that number happens to be available). No matter how you look at the rest of their schedule, it is all but impossible to conjure three more wins.
  • The Cowboys, minus Dak Prescott, are still the favorites to cobble together a representative season … but who really knows? They still have five games to fatten up against their East rivals, and that would at least get them to seven wins (pending Monday night’s tilt with Arizona). And if 7-9 is what it’ll take, there you go. But do you believe the Cowboys are running the table in the East?
  • The Eagles, next up for the Giants on Thursday, lost another two weapons when tight end Zach Ertz and running back Miles Sanders were hurt Sunday. We have grown conditioned around here to the Eagles being able to play anyone and still beat the Giants, but it isn’t law. The Giants COULD win that.

And if they do?

Look, it may just be another small step toward 4-12 or 5-11. That’s probably all there is. The Bucs, Seahawks and Ravens all loom for the Giants, and only the rematch with Washington seems a sure thing right now. Laugh if you want. The Giants almost certainly aren’t going to the playoffs.

But they could go to the playoffs.

And suddenly Thursday night in Philly sure feels like appointment viewing, doesn’t it?

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