NFL Playoff Scenarios: Potential Scenarios and Matchups for New York Giants

Jeff Shull@Jeff_ShullAnalyst IDecember 20, 2011

NFL Playoff Scenarios: Potential Scenarios and Matchups for New York Giants

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    Despite an embarrassing loss to the Washington Redskins—a game that saw the New York Giants get dominated from the opening kick—this team can still make the postseason. 

    Their chances of making it as a wild-card team are no longer viable (I'll explain why), so in order to make it to the postseason they would have to win the NFC East. 

    This slideshow will explain the three remaining scenarios that would make that happen. It will also look ahead to the two teams that the Giants would play if they get in. 

Win Out

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    It amazes me that the Giants still control their own destiny despite dropping a terrible game to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. 

    If the Giants win out, even if the Cowboys beat the Eagles, the Giants would own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys with both teams finishing at 9-7. 

    The NFC East has definitely taken a step back this season. 

Lose to the Jets, Beat the Cowboys

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    They would finish 8-8 here, but under this scenario the Cowboys would have had to lose to the Eagles and the Eagles will have to lose to the Redskins in the final game. 

    If all three teams finish 8-8, the Eagles would win based on the division record tiebreaker. They would finish 5-1 and the Cowboys and Giants would be 3-3.

Most Likely Playoff Matchup If They Get In: Atlanta Falcons

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    The Atlanta Falcons currently sit atop the wild-card standings in the NFC by virtue of their win over the Detroit Lions

    Both teams are 9-5 (if you're wondering why I did not lay out any wild-card scenarios, both the Lions and Falcons have better conference records and would own the tiebreaker over the Giants with better records against the conference), but the Falcons look like they could finish at 10-6 very easily even if they lose to the Saints this weekend. 

    Their final game is against the listless Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    The Lions, on the other hand, are playing the incredibly hot San Diego Chargers and the Green Bay Packers for their last two games. 

    The only way the Lions finish higher is by winning one of their games and the Falcons lose both of theirs, which is unlikely. 

    I have learned over the years to never count out the Giants, but it is hard for me to see them getting in the playoffs, let alone winning a playoff game. 

    The perception of the Falcons is they do not play well away from home and outdoors, and if you look at their record, it seems to support that. They do have wins against the Seahawks and Panthers on the road, but nobody is confusing them for decent teams. (The Seahawks have come on strong, but the Falcons played them at their worst.)

    The Giants would certainly have a chance to win, but it would be a slim chance unless Eli Manning overcomes his home-game woes in December and January. 

Next Likely: Detroit Lions

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    After an incredible come-from-behind victory, again, the Detroit Lions can clinch a playoff berth if they beat the San Diego Chargers at Ford Field this weekend. 

    As hot as the Chargers have been playing, the Lions have so much to play for and defend their home turf very well. 

    The Giants winning the division would put them as the No. 4 seed, and the possibility that anyone other than the Lions or Falcons finish No. 5 is very unlikely. 

    Even if the Seahawks miraculously beat the San Francisco 49ers this weekend and the Cardinals in Week 17, Atlanta holds the tiebreaker over them. So if the Lions lose out and the Falcons and Seahawks make it, the Seahawks would finish no better than No. 6. 

    (In case you're wondering, if the Lions lose out and the Seahawks win out, the Seahawks would own the tiebreaker with an 8-4 conference record to the Lions' 6-6 record). 

    So, Giants fan, if the planets align and this team that has been frustrating all season long somehow sneaks into the playoffs, they would play either the Lions or the Falcons. 

    Honestly I like the matchup against the Lions more than the Falcons due to the fact that they are extremely one-dimensional, whereas the Falcons have a good running attack and a balanced offense. 

    That is not to say the Giants wouldn't be in trouble—the Lions have a very potent passing game which has proven to give the Giants fits in recent weeks. 

    How can a team that couldn't guard Jabar Gaffney expect to contain Calvin Johnson? Or Julio Jones and Roddy White for that matter? 

    2007 playoff magic be damned—if this team wins a playoff game, I would be very surprised.