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Charting a New York Giants' Playoffs Path

A Giants playoff berth? It's a long shot but it's still possible, notes Coach Gene Clemons, who takes a look at the Giants' remaining schedule of opponents.

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge isn't interested in hearing the "P" word these days.

“No, our job right now is preparing for Tampa," Judge said earlier this week. "All those other games are hypotheticals. To go ahead and start looking beyond things that don’t exist – we’re going to have our hands full today getting better as a team and then leading into Tampa.”

But as the Giants prepare to attack the second half of their season with the aforementioned game against Tampa, they will most likely do so with an offense that is as healthy as it has been in quite some time.

As for the "P" word--playoffs--although a playoff berth might be a difficult achievement, it is not impossible, and over the next eight games, we will find out a lot about this team.

There are talented players at every level on both sides of the ball, but can they gel together, and will the offense and defense begin to click at the same time.

It is probably going to take at least nine wins to secure a spot in the playoffs. The Giants, 3-6, would need to win six of their final eight games to secure a winning record and get into the postseason.

It is difficult but not impossible. Let’s see if we can chart a path toward what would be the Giants' first playoff berth since 2016 by looking at the remainder of their schedule, which, according to Tankathon, ranks as the tenth easiest (.467 winning percentage) in the league. 

11/22/21 - at Tampa Bay

This is the most challenging game left on the schedule--and yes, they still have to play Dallas again. The Bucs are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Washington Football Team where quarterback Tom Brady did not play well.

The week before against the Saints, Brady didn't play well either, and when was the last time you saw Brady stink it up in back-to-back games?

The Bucs have a lot at stake the rest of the way, namely the NFC's postseason bye week. They are fourth in that race but are one game behind the Packers, Cardinals, and Cowboys. The Bucs can’t afford to let any more distance get between them and the top three teams.

They are also one of the best rush defenses in the NFL, and their pass rush is menacing. They can be exploited through the air, but the quarterback better get the ball off quickly and accurately.

As for the Giants, this is simply a bad matchup for the Giants, who are 17-23 after a bye and 16-31-1 in Monday Night Football games played on the road. This is probably where they drop a game.

Record following the game: 3-7

11/28/21 - vs. Philadelphia

Do not be fooled by the 4-6 record. The Eagles have been better than advertised, and quarterback Jalen Hurts is proving doubters wrong every week, leading an emerging passing offense and an offense that has rediscovered their desire to run the football.

This contest against the Giants (a date on which Michael Strahan's No. 92 will be finally be retired) will be the first of two meetings with Philadelphia this season, who will be one week removed from the bye.

The Eagles have allowed the sixth-most rushing yards in the NFL, so expect them to get a heavy dose of Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker, and even a big run or two from quarterback Daniel Jones.

The Giants will find a way to pull off the victory at home against the team Strahan posted more sacks in his 15-year career than any other.

Record following the game: 4-7

12/5/21 - at Miami

Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham returns to Miami to befuddle quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense.

The Miami offensive line has not been consistent this season, but they have also received subpar running back play, which only exacerbates the issue.

The defense will look to take away Tagovailoa's underneath and intermediate throws and will try to force him to take chances over the top. He is risk-averse, so that could lead to him holding the ball longer than recommended, which opens up the opportunity for pressure.

Nobody on the Giants understands Tagovailoa's game better than his one-time college teammate, Giants safety Xavier McKinney. He could be key in jumping one of Tagovailoa's pre-snap reads and taking it the other way for a house call.

Offensively, if everyone is healthy, there should be too many weapons for Miami to keep pace, giving the Giants the road win.

Record following the game: 5-7

12/12/21 - at Los Angeles Chargers

The Giants will depart Miami and head straight to Tucson, Arizona, rather than return to Jersey for the week. The idea is to get the players acclimated to West Coast time and the warmer weather before heading further west later in the week to Los Angeles for a date with the Chargers.

The Chargers are a team that has underachieved this season so far. Many believed that this team had Super Bowl potential, but at 5-4, they are fighting like so many others just to make it into the playoffs.

On paper, this is a game that many, if not all, of the prognosticators will have as a win for the home team. The interesting part is that these are exactly the games the Giants have been able to either be highly competitive in or win.


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New York Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari (51) and defensive end Leonard Williams (99) react after Williams bats down the ball thrown by Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (not pictured) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Giants defeat the Raiders, 23-16, on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in East Rutherford.

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Nobody expected them to beat the Saints, Panthers, or Raiders. And they should have beaten the Chiefs, except they let that one slip away due to mistakes.

The Chargers currently have the worst run defense in the NFL, and the Giants will look to exploit that while limiting the time that the Chargers' offense is on the field as the Giants pull off the upset.

Record following the game: 6-7

12/19/21 - vs. Dallas

Unfortunately for the Giants, the Cowboys will travel to New York motivated to keep winning with only one bye week available.

While the score of their previous meeting earlier this year was a little misleading as to how lopsided these teams are, it did not indicate that the Giants were playing on the same level.

The Cowboys may have the best team in the NFL this season. That being said, the Giants will not be a pushover. Armed with hopefully a full complement of weapons, the confidence of a (hopefully) three-game win streak, and the hope of returning to a .500 record New York will not be an easy win for any squad, and that includes Dallas.

This game will be much closer than people think, but Dallas will find a way to get it done in the end.

Record following the game: 6-8

11/22/21 - at Philadelphia

With the turmoil and uncertainty in Philadelphia, who knows what they might be doing in Week 16 of the season? If they are still trying to win, this game could be really interesting because they will continue to improve similarly to how New York will continue to improve.

This could spark the renewal of a rivalry that had long lost its luster. The one thing New York has done under head coach Joe Judge is compete until the end. Saquon Barkley has not had a signature game this season, and this game may be where he finally puts it all together again, not just as a runner but as a receiver.

This could be a healthy Barkley’s first 100-yard game of the season and would signal that he has fully recovered from the injuries that have robbed him of a place among the elite backs in the NFL.

The run game and timely play-action passing prove enough for the Giants as they close the game on a .500 record to one game.

Record following the game: 7-8

1/2/21 - at Chicago

Traveling to the Windy City for a game is never easy, especially in January. Still, there is a good chance that the Bears will be looking for a new coach by that time and wanting to play for offseason positioning and not exactly a win.

Still, if Justin Fields is on the gridiron, it is a concern for opposing defenses, and the Bears defense will be playing for pride and possible employment elsewhere.

This is a game that New York should be the favorite in and need to come out fast to ensure that they don’t give the Bears any confidence. Chicago is one of the better teams at getting pressure on the quarterback, so look for the Giants to use play-action and rollouts to slow down the rush and get Daniel Jones on the move and away from oncoming defenders.

Getting the ball out quickly will be a must, so Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney will make life a lot easier on Jones in this game.

The Giants get a tough win in a hostile environment under harsh conditions, help boost their draft pick that the Bears owe them in the first round of next year's draft, and the Giants crawl their way back to .500 on the season.

Record following the game: 8-8

1/9/21 - Washington

This visit by Washington will be a revenge game with everything on the line for New York. They lost the second game of the season to Washington when a phantom offsides penalty allowed the Football Team a second chance at a victory, and they converted to beat the Giants 30-29.

The Giants' offense had a chance to ice the game but could not hold on to the ball, and the defense allowed a couple of big plays, which put Washington in a position to try a game-winning kick.

This time with a playoff seed on the line, New York will come out and handle a depleted Washington team that might be secretly looking to lose to improve draft position by this point.

Record following the game: 9-8

Final Thoughts

Say hello to the playoffs Giants fans, for if you believe, you can achieve. The Giants have not finished a season above .500 since 2016, the last time they reached the playoffs.

It was also the year Eli Manning was the co-recipient of the Walter Payton "Man of the Year" award. Nobody expects New York to be in the playoff picture then, just as no one expects them to now.

So if they can find a way to gain some consistency, it would go a long way towards stoking the fans' expectations, and it would make for an awesome ride. 

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