The New York Giants sit at 0-4, off to their worst start in over 25 years. Wide receiver Victor Cruz is publicly questioning his head coach's decision-making, as reported by the New York Daily News. Defensive end Justin Tuck, meanwhile, is threatening to punch anyone in the mouth who turns on coach Tom Coughlin.
And yet, everything's fine. Just ask safety Antrel Rolle.
The ninth-year veteran told Kieran Darcy of ESPN New York that the Giants are being discounted much too soon:
I believe we can go 12-0 from this point on. People can look at me like I'm crazy, but you know I could really give a damn at this point. This is what I truly believe. I know the talent of this team, I know the mindset of this team, we just have to go out there and put it all together.
Given that the Giants have been outscored 69-7 the past two weeks, Rolle's proclamation may well elicit just the sort of "crazy" looks that Rolle mentioned. However, it's worth mentioning that the Dallas Cowboys sit in first place in the NFC East with an imposing 2-2 record.
In other words, as badly as the Giants have played, they're still only two games out of first place.
New York isn't peeling off 12 wins in a row. At this point, fans are just desperate for the team to peel off one win in a row. But can they get back in the NFC East? Are the playoffs actually a realistic possibility?
Well, let's look at the upcoming schedule.
|6||at Chicago Bears||3-1|
|8||at Philadelphia Eagles||1-3|
Combined record: 6-10
If the Giants are going to get back into the mix, the time is now. Two of the next four games are against a Philadelphia Eagles team that boasts the NFL's worst defense in terms of total yards allowed. The defense of the Minnesota Vikings isn't much better, ranking 29th in the league.
In other words, if there was ever a time for Eli Manning, David Wilson and the New York offense to shake off their funk and get on track, this is it.
For the sake of argument, let's say that the Giants circle the wagons and reel off three wins in their next four games, with a loss at Chicago. That would leave the Giants 3-5 heading into their Week 9 bye.
As things stand right now, the Giants' opponents in the second half of the season are just under .500 on the season.
|11||Green Bay Packers||1-2|
|13||at Washington Redskins||1-3|
|14||at San Diego Chargers||2-2|
|16||at Detroit Lions||3-1|
Combined record: 15-16
We'll call home games against the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins wins. The Giants are simply a more talented team than Oakland, and the Redskins are yet another of the NFL's defensive bottom-feeders.
Likewise, we'll call home games against the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks losses. A win in one of those games would be huge, but we're talking about a Giants team that has scored the third-fewest points per game in the NFL while allowing the most.
Got to be leery of the line between optimism and lunacy. That leaves a home game against Dallas and road games at San Diego, Detroit and Washington.
In order to reach 9-7, which could net a wild-card berth (or even the NFC East title, given the sad state of the division), the Giants would need to win all four of those contests. That's a tall order, especially with the Lions playing as well as they have.
The reality of the situation is this: Antrel Rolle is simply trying to fire up a Giants team that is beyond deflated after successive blowout losses. The chances of Big Blue making the playoffs right now are slim.
Will the New York Giants make the playoffs in 2013?
There is, however, a precedent. A team that started 0-4 went on to make the playoffs once since the AFL-NFL merger. That team was the 1992 San Diego Chargers, who won 11 of their last 12 games to take home the AFC West title.
There's also a bit of a precedent with Rolle. In both 2010 and 2011, Rolle made late-season guarantees that the Giants would make the playoffs. In 2010, the Giants came up short. The next year they won the Super Bowl.
Care to go for two out of three?