Any Given Sunday was the theme of the weekend.
I don’t think anyone had any faith in the Cowboys when they traveled to New Orleans to face the undefeated Saints on Saturday night. Dallas was the team that had a tradition of choking in December, but somehow outplayed the Saints and escaped New Orleans with a victory despite a late New Orleans’ comeback led by Drew Brees. The Saints were given their blessings in recent weeks when they really should have lost, and I guess it was just a matter of time.
The Steelers hosted the Packers yesterday evening in what was believed to be a fairly lopsided matchup. The Packers entered the game riding a long win streak, while the Steelers were coming off a loss to the Browns that all but killed their playoff hopes. Green Bay scored a touchdown at the two minute warning to take a six point lead, but Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a game-winning drive that ended with a brilliant drag-and-catch by receiver Mike Wallace. Roethlisberger totally lit up the league’s number two defense, torching them for over 500 yards in what was the best performance by a quarterback since Drew Brees’ magical game in 2006.
What does this mean for the Giants? Well, at first you wouldn’t think much of it considering the big team Giants fans were watching this weekend was Dallas. In reality, it was a huge advantage for Big Blue to see this game end in the way it did because it gives the Giants more opportunities to make the playoffs should they win out. Here is how it could all unfold:
If the Giants take advantage of their remaining schedule and win out, they would need the Packers or Cowboys to lose one of their remaining two games in order to clinch the playoffs. A Giants win in Washington tonight would place them one game out of the #5 and #5 wild card positions. A loss would put them on the brink, as they would need one of the two teams to lose out.
A loss by Green Bay or Dallas is entirely possible, as Green Bay will have a tough matchup in Arizona, and Dallas will have to beat the high-flying Eagles in week 17. The Giants can still win out and finish at 10-6 but miss the playoffs, but could finish at 9-7 and make the playoffs.
To sum that all up, here is the bottom line:
Giants can clinch a playoff berth by winning out with:
1 Cowboys loss OR
1 Packers loss.
On the other hand, the Giants can clinch a playoff berth by winning 2 of 3 with:
2 Cowboys losses OR
2 Packers losses
Hoping for other teams to lose will only help if your own team takes care of business. The Giants need to beat the Redskins first and foremost, then take a brief peek at the standings before preparing for the final home game at Giants Stadium when they take on the Panthers. After last week’s near miss, I’m expecting the Giants to be ready to take care of business by finishing what they started on offense last week.
In other news…
The Giants took a special chartered Amtrak train to Washington DC this weekend, perhaps as a result of the weather delays at the local airports. Or, maybe it was just close enough. In any event, banged up players Corey Webster and Kareem McKenzie failed to make the trip. It is safe to say that the Giants secondary will be gasping for air in this game. I’ll be back later tonight around kickoff with any key updates. Until then, Go Giants?