(CBSNewYork)- After 12 weeks of football, the New York Giants are in first place in the NFC East. Granted, it’s with a 4-7 record but, nonetheless, the team is in the driver’s seat to win the division and as such, earn a home playoff game. Thanks to their three straight wins, the Giants over Washington, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, Joe Judge’s group has positioned itself solidly in the playoff race and, according to projection models they have the best chance of winning the division as things stand.
FiveThirtyEight’s model puts their chances at 39 percent while ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) gives them a 34.9 percent shot. Both of those numbers are the highest of any team in the division, though they’re not confidence inspiring. That’s mostly because there is still plenty to be decided within the division and how the remaining division matchups in Week 16 (Eagles @ Cowboys) and 17 (Eagles vs. Washington, Giants vs. Cowboys) will, in all likelihood determine the winner.
The division’s four teams are favored in just two of their remaining non-division games by FiveThirtyEight’s model. The Cowboys have a 56 percent win probability against the Bengals in Week 14 and Washington has a 52 percent win probability to beat the Panthers in Week 15. Suffice to say, the chances of anybody running away by ripping off a five-game win streak is unlikely.
So, what’s the Giants remaining schedule and how would they make the playoffs? First, the schedule isn’t easy with games at Seattle (8-3), home for the Cardinals (6-5), home for the Browns (8-3), at the Ravens (6-4) and home for the Cowboys (3-8) to end the year. They are not favored in any of those games short of the Cowboys matchup at year’s end.
So, what do the Giants need to do? Well, outside of pulling two upsets in the next four weeks, they need to beat the Cowboys. And they have to hope that Philly loses each of their remaining division games and at least two others (the Eagles face the Packers and Saints the next two weeks so, that’s likely). The Giants also have to hope Washington doesn’t beat Carolina in Week 16. If they do and the Giants lose every game except for the season-ending Dallas matchup, then Washington would end with a 6-10 record, one game better than the Giants.
If the Giants find a way to beat one of their next four opponents–the Cardinals are the most likely per FiveThirtyEight with a 41 percent win probability in that game–and they win the season-ending matchup against Dallas with losses by Philly to both Washington and Dallas, then they would win the division at 6-10 provided Philly doesn’t win all three of it’s other games against Green Bay, New Orleans and Arizona.
There is still work to be done here and it seems very unlikely we will determine anything in the NFC East prior to the final week of the season, but as of the moment, Giants fans have something to feel good about, holding the highest chance of postseason play. But, that all depends on the health of QB Daniel Jones who injured his hamstring on Sunday.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said he avoided major injury and he has an outside shot at playing this Sunday against Seattle.
#Giants QB Daniel Jones underwent tests on his hamstring today and sources say he did avoid major injury. He has an outside chance at playing Sunday, though they’ll know more if he’s able to get on the field and test it in a few days. NYG will have plans with Jones & without him.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 30, 2020
Jones doesn’t necessarily have to be back this week for the Giants to remain alive in the playoff hunt. But, having him healthy is a big key in their hopes of winning the division down the stretch.
The Giants head to Seattle this Sunday, December 6 for a 4:05 p.m. EST kickoff.