COMMENTARY | No matter what you think of the New York Giants after the first four games, here's one thing you should know: the Giants are still alive in the playoff hunt.
Despite starting the season with four losses, and knowing that only once has an 0-4 team made the playoffs (the 1992 San Diego Chargers), the Giants can still get to the postseason. The reason is simple, and it has more to do with the competition than it does with the Giants themselves.
After all, if we go by what we've seen over the first month, there's not a whole lot to like. The offense has sputtered -- there have been too many turnovers, a non-existent running game, and a putrid offensive line. The Giants have allowed a league-high 146 points (not all on the defense) and have made too many average players look like the great Peyton Manning. (Manning looked like Manning when he faced the Giants.) Not to be lost in the lowlights of the first four games, kicker Josh Brown has missed two crucial field goals in consecutive weeks.
So why the optimism when it comes to the Giants' playoff chances? Because as shocking as this may sound, the Giants play in one of the weakest divisions in the league. The NFC East, built on power and tradition, is off to a horrible start. The combined record of the Dallas Cowboys (2-2), Philadelphia Eagles (1-3), Washington Redskins (1-3), and Giants (0-4) is 4-12.
Here's the scariest part: If the Giants win on Sunday at home against the Eagles (the Giants are favored), and the Cowboys lose at home to the Broncos (the Broncos are road favorites), New York would be just one game out of first place. Remarkable when you consider how poorly they've played.
But in a division where you usually have to get to 10 wins to have any chance of finishing in first place (the Giants finished 9-7 in 2011 and won the division), it's possible that this year it may only take nine. What's happened to the NFC East?
With upcoming games against the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, and Cowboys, the schedule isn't easy. But it's not like they have to win them all. When you consider they may have to go 9-3 over the final 12 games, it's certainly doable. Certainly more doable than it would be in a normal year in the NFC East.
Still not buying the playoff talk? Ask yourself the following questions: How has Dallas performed in the big spot? How many points have the Eagles (138) and Redskins (112) allowed? There are more questions about Big Blue's divisional opponents, but ultimately it comes down to the Giants winning games.
That starts Sunday against the Eagles. A winnable game in a season that's not yet lost.
Charles Costello has followed the Giants for 30 years. He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the team during the 1997 season.
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