Halfway through the 2012 regular season, the New York Giants appeared to be well on their way to defending their Super Bowl in the playoffs. Through eight games, they were 6-2 with a comfortable lead in the NFC East
With two weeks left on the schedule, a postseason berth seems to be much more in doubt.
New York has lost four of its last six games. Their 34-0 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons last week put them in a three-way tie with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins for first place. Both teams own the tiebreaker over the Giants, putting New York in third place and out of the postseason.
Five teams in the NFC are tied with an 8-6 record. The Minnesota Vikings currently hold the final wild card spot, and the Redskins lead the NFC East. The Giants sit in ninth place in the conference, and are on the outside looking in.
Despite New York’s current position, there’s a good chance they’ll make the postseason.
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The Giants control their own destiny. If they win their final two games, the New York is guaranteed a playoff spot.
In Week 16, the Giants will visit the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore is on the verge of winning another AFC North title, and has consistently been one of the best home teams in the NFL. Still, New York is expected to win the contest. They are 2.5-point favorites on the road.
In their recent playoff runs, the Giants haven’t had trouble winning away from New Jersey. The beat both the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers on the road in last year’s playoffs. In their 2007 title run, New York didn’t play one postseason game at home.
If the Giants can get by Baltimore, they might have their easiest matchup of the season in Week 17. They’ll host the Philadelphia Eagles, who sit at the bottom of the conference with just four wins.
With Nick Foles at quarterback, New York won’t have to worry about Michael Vick, who’s historically given the Giants trouble. In six games, the Eagles have just one win with Foles at quarterback. He has more turnovers than touchdowns.
While two wins would guarantee the Giants the second wild card, they still have a shot to win the division. The Cowboys and Redskins are set to play each other in the final week. If the winner of that game loses this Sunday, New York can win the NFC East for a second straight year. Dallas is more likely to lose on Sunday, as they’re set to face the New Orleans Saints.
Eli Manning has shown he plays his best when the Giants need it the most. He set a record in 2011 for fourth quarter touchdowns, and has been named the MVP in both Super Bowls.
Conversely, Tony Romo has been known to fail in big games. Robert Griffin III has yet to be in this situation in the pros, and could struggle down the stretch in his rookie season.
Losing one of their next two games would make it very tough for the Giants to make the playoffs. They’d have to rely on losses from the Chicago Bears, Vikings, and either the Redskins or Cowboys.