The New York Giants have a 28 percent chance of making the National Football League playoffs by winning their final two games, according to oddsmakers.
If the Giants (7-7) beat the New York Jets on Dec. 24 and then the Dallas Cowboys in their regular-season finale Jan. 1, they would win the National Football Conference’s East division and return to the postseason for the first time in three years.
“If you said at the beginning of the season we would be in this position -- have two games left and knowing if you win you’re in the playoffs -- you’d take it every time,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning told reporters. “That’s a spot you want to be in. We’re here. Now it’s how we handle it.”
The Giants are 3-point underdogs against the Jets and would be listed as 2.5-point favorites against the Cowboys on Jan. 1, Las Vegas oddsmakers said. Those point spreads put the Giants’ chances of making the playoffs at 28 percent, RJ Bell, the founder of Las Vegas-based handicapping information website Pregame.com, said yesterday.
The Cowboys have a 60 percent chance of taking the NFC East title, while the Philadelphia Eagles’ odds of making the postseason stand at 12 percent. The Cowboys host the Eagles on Christmas Eve and are 2-point favorites.
Dallas leads the NFC East with an 8-6 record, with the Giants at 7-7 and the Eagles at 6-8.
To make the postseason, Philadelphia has to win its final two games and also needs the Giants to lose to the Jets and then beat the Cowboys. Dallas would clinch the NFC East title this week with a win and a Giants loss.
“We need some teams to lose,” Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, the NFL’s leading rusher, told reporters. “But what we can control is just winning games. This is one of the games that we need to win, so I think that probably drives us a little more.”
The Denver Broncos, who have won seven of their last nine games with Tim Tebow at quarterback, have an 86.5 percent chance of winning the American Football Conference’s West division title and earning a playoff berth.
The Broncos lead the division at 8-6 and are favored in their final two games, at Buffalo and at home against Kansas City. The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers are 7-7 in the division, and the Chiefs are still alive at 6-8.
The Raiders, with games against Kansas City and San Diego, have the second-best chance at winning the division at 6 percent, according to Pregame.com.
The Chiefs are at 5 percent and the Chargers, who close with games in Detroit and Oakland, have a 2.5 percent shot at the division title. The Broncos can clinch the AFC West title on Christmas Eve by beating Buffalo and having Oakland lose to Kansas City.
The odds for the final wild-card playoff berth in the American Football Conference aren’t yet available at Pregame.com, since it can’t be clinched this week and six teams are in the running. The New York Jets are among them and could lock up the spot by beating the Giants and then the Miami Dolphins.
The Las Vegas point spreads aren’t the only odds against the Giants, who rank last among the NFL’s 32 teams with 86.1 yards rushing a game.
Since the current playoff format was introduced in 1990, only two teams reached the postseason with the league’s worst rushing attack: the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 and the Indianapolis Colts in 2009. Both those teams advanced to the Super Bowl.
The Giants have set a franchise record with 4,186 yards passing, third in the NFL. They last finished among the league’s top three teams in passing yardage in 1973, and Manning said he realizes the pressure will be on him to play well the next two weeks.
“These last two games will dictate a lot of things and whether our season can be a good season or not,” he said. “I need to play my best football in these last games.”