No matter what happens in the final six games of the season, the first year of the Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll regime was a huge step in the right direction for the New York Giants.
They restored credibility back to the franchise by starting the season 7-2 and maximizing the talent on the roster by having everyone believe in one another and their system. At the beginning of the season, nobody outside of the Giants’ locker room would have given them a chance of making the playoffs.
But at 7-4, they’re currently the sixth seed in the NFC and poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Giants ownership always wants their team to play meaningful games at the end of the season, and Daboll and Schoen have delivered on that.
Of course, it won’t be easy to end their six-year playoff drought as the team is dealing with a rash of injuries and has a difficult final six games of the season.
Here are four things the Giants must do in order to make the playoffs this year.
Beat Washington on Sunday
Sunday’s matchup against the (7-5) Washington Commanders is the biggest game of the season. If the Giants lose, not only would they be in last place in the NFC East, but if the (6-5) Seattle Seahawks defeat the (3-8) Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, New York would currently be out of the playoffs.
Both Washington and Seattle would have better conference records than Big Blue and would have won the head-to-head matchup. There will still be five games remaining after Sunday’s contest, but it’s never ideal to be out of the playoff mix.
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It’s too early to call the Giants’ game against the Commanders a must-win game, but it’s by far the most important of the season up to this point.
Pull off at least at least two upsets
As we mentioned previously, the remaining games on Big Blue’s schedule are tough, as their opponents have a combined record of 30-14-1. This includes two games against the current No. 1 seed in the playoffs, the (10-1) Philadelphia Eagles, and the second seed in the conference, the (9-2) Minnesota Vikings.
The Commanders are currently favored by (-2.5) to defeat the Giants on Sunday. Based on this line, it’s possible New York will be underdogs for all of the remaining games on the schedule, with the exception of their Week 17 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium.
So in order to make the playoffs, New York is going to have to pull off at least two upsets down the stretch. The season began with an upset in Week 1 when they defeated the Titans 21-20. Now the question is, does coach Daboll’s team have any more upsets up their sleeves?
Sign Odell Beckham Jr.
Darius Slayton has stepped up over the last several weeks and has become a reliable option for Daniel Jones. But Slayton is not a number one receiver, and without a true number one wideout, teams are focusing all of their attention on stopping Saquon Barkley.
It’s rare that a dynamic receiver is available this late in the season, but free agent Odell Beckham Jr. will meet with his former team on Thursday and Friday. Despite his incident on a plane earlier this week, there’s mutual interest between the Giants and OBJ in a reunion.
Beckham is also scheduled to meet with the Dallas Cowboys on December 5th, and he also plans to visit the Buffalo Bills.
If Schoen and Daboll are able to lure the 30-year-old receiver to come back where his career started, it would not only be an upgrade to their receiving corps, but it would prevent him from joining the rival Cowboys.
He may not be the player he once was, and it will take time to grasp the offense, but when he’s on the field, defenses have to account for OBJ, which will help open an offense that has yet to score 30 points in any game this season. A more dynamic offense will lead to wins in December.
Win at least three more games
When you look at the landscape of the NFC, New York is going to have to have double-digit wins in order to make the playoffs unless the Commanders, Seahawks, or 49ers collapse.
If the Giants can go 3-3 in their remaining six games, they’ll finish the season 10-7 which should land them in the playoffs, particularly if they sweep Washington.
For a franchise that has gone through five consecutive double-digit losing seasons coming into this year, to rebound and have double-digit wins would be a remarkable achievement.