The New York Giants defense of their recent Super Bowl title could very well come to an end on Sunday.
The defending champs are 8-7 heading into the final week of the 2012 NFL regular season, and the possibility of advancing to the playoffs appears more dime than in 2011. After a hot start to the year, the Giants struggled, once again, in the second half.
New York must rely on other teams to lose, in order to make the postseason. Of the five teams still alive in the NFC, the Giants playoff chances are the least likely.
New York’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday eliminated them from the NFC East title picture. The winner of the Sunday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins will claim the division title.
The Giants still have a chance to win the wild card, but they’ll need losses from a few other teams.
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The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings are both 9-6, and looking to claim the sixth postseason spot. New York has a better conference record than both teams, and holds the tiebreaker over them.
The Vikings control their own destiny, but have a tough matchup on Sunday. They’ll host the Green Bay Packers, who are vying for a first-round bye. Betting odds have Green Bay as 3.5-point favorites.
The Bears are scheduled to face the 4-11 Detroit Lions. The Lions haven’t won a game since Week Nine, and are three-point underdogs at home. However, the Bears have struggled of late, losing five of their last seven.
The results of the other games won’t matter for the Giants if they can’t take care of business at home. New York will host the Philadelphia Eagles to close out the year. Quarterback Michael Vick will get the start over an injured Nick Foles.
If both the Vikings and Bears lose, the Giants will then be rooting heavily for the Redskins on Sunday night. A win or a tie for Washington would put the Giants in the playoffs for a second straight season.
A lot of things have to go the Giants way on Sunday. They need three winning teams to lose, and they have to win their own game, as well.
If the Giants miss the postseason, it will mark the eighth-straight season that the NFL will not see a repeat Super Bowl champion. The New England Patriots last repeated in 2004.