Not many rational football minds believed that the New York Giants would be in the mix for the NFC East title entering the final week of the 2020 regular season. Yet, here we are.
The Washington Football Team’s loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday evening ensured that the division would come down to one more frantic, likely haphazard, Week 17 that pits each of the four NFC East teams against each other.
The 6-9 Football Team will meet the 4-10-1 Philadelphia Eagles — who were eliminated by the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon — in primetime on Sunday night while the Giants take on those very same Cowboys.
At 5-10 following an unimpressive showing against the Baltimore Ravens, the Giants need to beat Dallas in Week 17 while the Eagles beat Washington to get into the playoffs. That’s their only way to see the postseason this year.
It would be a gift of a playoff appearance for a Giants team that hasn’t seen that stage since the 2016 season, especially because they would have been eliminated from contention long ago if they played in any other division in the league.
Over the last four years, the Giants have won a combined 17 games and have had a losing record in seven of their last eight campaigns.
General manager Dave Gettelman has failed to piece together a competent roster over the last three years — whiffing on draft picks and making puzzling trades and free-agency decisions in the process.
The head-coach position wasn’t in great shape, either, as the Giants ruffled through three-different head coaches in the last four years. But the hiring of Joe Judge seems to have been the right call as he’s gotten the most out of a roster with low expectations that also dealt with the loss of superstar running back Saquon Barkley.
In reality, Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham seem to be the only real reliable leaders within the Giants’ hierarchy. With an incomplete, injury-riddled, and unimpressive roster this year, imagine what they could do with competent decision-makers in the front office.
Still, even in this unlikely playoff race, getting to that next level isn’t the main subject of Judge’s philosophy. It’s turning around an organization that has been destroyed by inept leadership.
“In terms of where this team is headed and what we have been able to accomplish this year, in terms of the foundation, the culture — we have improved a lot of playing across the board,’’ Judge said after Sunday’s loss to Baltimore. “I feel that we are on the right track and moving in the right direction.”
Look at it this way: The NFC East’s swoon is allowing the Giants to play with house money. One more funny bounce or roll could have this team and its core players getting some unlikely playoff experience.