With a one-point win on Monday Night Football, the Washington Redskins just threw a serious wrench in the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants’ playoff plans. The Giants still have the lead in the NFC East, but their command of the division has been reduced to just a one-game advantage over the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.
They have split the season series with each of those teams.
New York’s remaining opponents have a combined record of 28-20. By no means are the Giants a shoo-in to win out, and that’s what they will likely have to do to have any chance of making the playoffs without winning the NFC East.
Their 2-3 divisional record means that, without a better overall record than Washington or Dallas, they can only hope to tie the Redskins (3-1) and Cowboys (3-2) in the division. Washington still has dates with Philadelphia on the road (Week 16) and Dallas at home (Week 17). New York will host Philadelphia in Week 17.
If the tiebreaking procedures must go deeper than that, the chance that the Redskins or Cowboys will win the NFC East likely hinges upon the teams’ respective abilities to win the division outright.
The only head-to-head tiebreakers that the Giants own against any non-divisional teams in the wild-card mix (teams with a record between 6-6 and 8-4) are against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers. Green Bay may win its division outright, rendering that tiebreaker moot.
After hosting the Saints in Week 14, New York has two tough road matchups with Atlanta and the Baltimore Ravens, followed by its Week 17 home matchup with the Eagles. The Giants should take a bare minimum of one of those (Philadelphia).
In order to get back to the postseason, they will need to play more consistent football down the stretch—because 8-8 isn’t going to cut it. Washington still has the Ravens (9-3), Cleveland Browns (4-8), Eagles (3-9) and Cowboys (6-6) remaining on its schedule.
The Redskins could end the season at 9-7. The Giants can’t afford to finish any worse than 10-6.