The New York Giants have a 45 percent chance of winning their final two games to make the National Football League playoffs, according to bookmakers’ odds.
The defending Super Bowl champions, who have lost four of their past six games and are coming off a 34-0 defeat in which they were shut out during the regular season for the first time in 16 years, still control their playoff fate.
With a win at the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 23 and then at home against the Philadelphia Eagles the following week, the Giants would be guaranteed a playoff spot at 10-6. Seven of the NFL’s 12 postseason spots have been filled with two weeks left.
“Destiny is in our hands,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters two days ago. “If we win two games, we’re going to be in the playoffs. That’s what we have to focus on.”
The Giants are favored by Las Vegas oddsmakers to win both games, given a 55 percent chance to beat the Ravens (9-5), who have already locked up a postseason berth, and an 82 percent chance to defeat the Eagles (4-10). The probability the Giants win both is 45 percent, according to RJ Bell, the founder of Las Vegas-based handicapping information website Pregame.com.
New York is tied with Washington and Dallas atop the National Football Conference’s East Division with 8-6 records. The Redskins hold the tiebreaker advantage and have won five games in a row.
Las Vegas odds indicate the Giants have a better chance of winning out than the Redskins (40 percent) and Cowboys (23 percent), according to Pregame.com.
Washington visits the Eagles this week and then finishes the season at home against the Cowboys, who host the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 23. The Redskins are favored by 4 1/2 points over the Eagles, while the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book lists the Cowboys as 3-point favorites against the Saints. The Giants are 2 1/2-point favorites in Baltimore this week.
“We like our chances,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said two days ago at a news conference. “We know what we need to do and it’s right in front of us and we’ve got to go out there and win this game this week.”
While the Ravens have lost their past three games, they can clinch the American Football Conference’s North division title with a victory. Manning said he’ll probably talk strategy this week with his older brother, Peyton, who led the Denver Broncos to a 34-17 win in Baltimore three days ago.
“I’m sure I’ll have a few questions for him,” Eli Manning said. “Our offensive philosophies are a little different some ways, but I’ll ask and see if he has any tips.”
Online sports book Bovada.lv puts the Giants’ odds of making the NFL playoffs at 6-5, meaning a bettor would have to wager $100 to win $120. A bettor wagering that New York won’t reach the postseason has 5-8 odds, meaning it would take a $160 winning wager to make a $100 profit.
The Giants could clinch a playoff berth this week with a victory and losses by the Redskins, Cowboys, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.
A year ago, the Giants won three of their final four games, beating the Cowboys in the season finale to win the NFC East and earn the NFL’s final playoff berth. The Giants then went on to win their second Super Bowl title in five seasons.
“We’re against the wall,” Coughlin said. “It is a playoff situation for us, if you will. We now have to win to have the opportunity to go into the playoffs. We’ve responded to that in the past. We’re going to have to respond again.”
Three of the NFC’s six playoff spots have been booked, with the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers having already won division titles and the San Francisco 49ers also in.
The 49ers (10-3-1) can wrap up the NFC West crown with a victory in Seattle, where the Seahawks (9-5) have a 6-0 record this season. Seattle, which is a 1-point underdog, would clinch a trip to the playoffs with a win against the 49ers.
The Redskins could make the postseason with a win and losses by the Giants, Bears and Vikings.
Chicago (8-6) is a 5 1/2-point favorite in Arizona against the 5-9 Cardinals, while Minnesota (8-6) is a 7 1/2-point underdog in Houston against the 12-2 Texans, who can clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win.
Houston, Denver and the New England Patriots have won division titles in the AFC, while the Giants will try to prevent Baltimore from capturing the other. The Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals could round out the AFC’s playoff field with road victories this weekend.
The Colts (9-5) are favored by 6 1/2 points over the 2-12 Chiefs in Kansas City. The Bengals (8-6) are 4 1/2-point underdogs in Pittsburgh, where the 7-7 Steelers need a win to keep their playoff chances alive.
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