For those who want the Giants’ playoff chances boiled down to one sentence, let’s put it this way: with one more loss, we’ll be just about at the point where the focus turns to free agency and the 2014 NFL Draft.
After the 24-21 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, the Giants are short on time, and any slack they had is just about gone.
Here’s a closer look at the Giants’ NFC East and wild-card hopes entering December:
NFC East Standings
1. Cowboys (6-5) — No. 4 seed in NFC
2. Eagles (6-5) — No. 8 seed in NFC
3. GIANTS (4-7) — No. 12 seed in NFC
4. Redskins (3-8) — No. 14 seed in NFC
New York’s remaining games: at Washington (Dec. 1), at San Diego (Dec. 8), vs. Seattle (Dec. 15), at Detroit (Dec. 22), vs. Washington (Dec. 29).
Outlook: The Giants’ division hopes aren’t completely dashed, but they now need a lot to go their way in the final weeks. They need to play very well down the stretch — no worse than four wins in five games, we would guess — and they will also need the Cowboys and Eagles to have tough Decembers.
The Cowboys have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Giants, which makes matters even worse for New York. If the Cowboys and Giants finished tied for first at 9-7, Dallas would win the division on account of the season sweep of Big Blue.
The Giants would also end up on the wrong end of a tiebreaker if they finished the season deadlocked with the Eagles and Cowboys, where the first tiebreaker is the head-to-head record in games pitting those clubs.
Dallas also already clinched this tiebreaker. The Cowboys have two wins against the Giants and one win against the Eagles. At worst, they can finish 3-1.
The Eagles, meanwhile, split with the Giants. Philadelphia visits Dallas in the season finale, giving the Eagles a chance to even the score with the Cowboys. But they will be no better than a combined 2-2 against the Cowboys and Giants — still better than New York's 1-3 mark.
NFC Wild-Card standings
5. Panthers (8-3)
6. 49ers (7-4)
7. Cardinals (7-4)
8. Eagles (6-5)
9. Bears (6-5)
10. Packers (5-5-1)
11. Rams (5-6)
12. GIANTS (4-7)
13. Buccaneers (3-8)
14. Redskins (3-8)
15. Vikings (2-8-1)
16. Falcons (2-9)
Outlook: The Giants are hanging by a thread in the wild-card race. Even winning out might not be enough for a bid. Their loss Sunday to the Cowboys knocked them to 12th in the NFC standings.
Note that the Eagles are ahead of the Bears in the NFC pecking order on account of a better NFC record (5-2 vs. 3-5). Sunday’s Arizona-Philadelphia game could have major wild-card ramifications.
Even if the Giants fade from contention, they could play spoiler in the playoff chase. The Chargers are in the thick of the battle for the No. 6 seed in the AFC and visit MetLife Stadium Dec. 8. The following week, the Giants host the Seahawks, who are vying for the NFC's top seed. Finally, the Giants’ Dec. 22 game at Detroit could affect the NFC North and wild-card races.