The Giants can clinch a playoff spot this weekend if they beat the Vikings on Saturday in Minnesota and get some help from some NFC foes.
Any combination of two losses by the Washington Commanders, Detroit Lions, and Seattle Seahawks, plus a Giants Christmas Eve win, would clinch the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2016.
Brian Daboll and his teammates aren’t paying attention to the scenarios.
“Winning helps us, and losing doesn’t,” veteran safety Tony Jefferson stated simply. “So we want to win.”
Regardless of the outcome of this weekend’s games, the Giants (8-5) have a good chance of making the playoffs.
If the Commanders, Lions, and Seahawks slip even slightly, one win in their final three games could be enough to qualify.
The Giants face the Vikings (11-3) on Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts (4-9-1) at home in Week 17, and the Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) at home in Week 18.
However, clinching early would be obviously refreshing.
The good news is that Washington (7-6) is on the road against the San Francisco 49ers (10-4) on Saturday, while the Seahawks (7-7) are huge underdogs against the Kansas City Chiefs (11-3).
The bad news is that the Giants will struggle to beat the Vikings inside a deafening U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Detroit Lions (7-7) will travel to the Carolina Panthers (5-9).
Saquon Barkley said he isn’t focusing on the possibility of making the playoffs for the first time in his NFL career.
“The goal is to make the playoffs, but it’s not like you won the Super Bowl,” Barkley said of hypothetically clinching. “It just gives you a chance to compete for that. That is how I see it. That’s the goal; you want to achieve it so you can do it later.
“I’ll have fun and be happy with my teammates [if we win],” Barkley added. “Obviously, it’s a fantastic achievement. But it’s not the granddaddy of them all.”
The Giants’ refusal to focus on playoff scenarios appears genuine as well.
Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka essentially scoffed at the idea of calling Saturday’s game differently because the Giants could face the Vikings again in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
“No. “We’re not looking at that,” Kafka stated. “We’re focused on this week and putting together the best gameplan we can.”
CROWDER RELEASED BY GIANTS
Tae Crowder, the Giants’ inside linebacker, was released on Tuesday, a little more than two weeks after he tweeted “FREE ME” after playing zero defensive snaps against Washington.
Crowder, the final pick in the 2020 draught out of Georgia, has started 21 games for the Giants over the last three years. However, due to poor performance, he fell down the depth chart. His social media ranting didn’t help.
And Landon Collins’ performance in Washington confirmed that there are three players ahead of Crowder at that position: Jaylon Smith, Collins, and rookie Micah McFadden.
“I think it was one of those things where it just didn’t work out with the expectation of execution and things just kept building up and building up,” defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said Wednesday. “You want to give a guy time to correct it, and we just didn’t have time for him to correct it.”
Daboll stated that every decision he and GM Joe Schoen make is “tough,” and that “we’ll see what happens.” Crowder’s locker remained untouched in the locker room on Wednesday.
LIST OF INJURED
Corner Adoree Jackson (knee) and guard Shane Lemieux (toe) did not practise on Tuesday or Wednesday. Neither is expected to play on Saturday. Both days, right tackle Evan Neal (shoulder), edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux (elbow), tight end Nick Vannett (shoulder), and defensive lineman Leonard Williams (neck) were limited.