The New York Giants have lost more games to Andy Reid than any other active National Football League coach. Another loss this week would probably scuttle any playoff chances a quarter of the way into the season.
Reid won 17 games against the Giants during his 14-year tenure as coach of the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles. He’s now in Kansas City, where his Chiefs have a 3-0 record in his first season after going 2-14 a year ago. The Chiefs in two days host an 0-3 Giants team that hadn’t started worse than 5-2 in coach Tom Coughlin’s first nine seasons in New York.
The Giants’ standing is precarious three weeks into the 16-game regular season and would be dire with a loss in Kansas City. Since the NFL went to its current 12-team playoff format in 1990, only one team -- the 1992 San Diego Chargers -- has recovered to make the postseason following an 0-4 start.
“We just have to keep pounding away -- no excuses, no feeling sorry for ourselves,” said Coughlin, whose Giants are 4 1/2-point underdogs. “We put ourselves in this position, and we’re the only ones that can battle our way out of it.”
The Giants are coming off their most lopsided loss under Coughlin, routed 38-0 at the Carolina Panthers. Three 0-3 teams recovered to make the playoffs since 1990: the 1992 Chargers, 1995 Detroit Lions and 1998 Buffalo Bills.
The Chiefs had a 26-16 Week 3 victory in Philadelphia against Reid’s former team and are looking to go 3-0 this season against clubs from the National Football Conference’s East Division, having also beaten the Dallas Cowboys.
Kansas City is the fifth team in NFL history to start 3-0 after losing 14 or more games the previous year. The Chiefs haven’t been 4-0 since 2003.
The Giants are 0-3 for the first time since 1996, when they finished 6-10 and Dan Reeves was fired as coach. They rebounded before under Coughlin, overcoming an 0-2 start to win the Super Bowl after the 2007 season.
“We don’t get caught up in the record,” Reid said during a news conference this week. “They’ve got a phenomenal head coach. They’re a good football team, and so we’re preparing ourselves for a good football team. That’s the bottom line.”
Among the biggest differences between the teams this season has been turnovers.
The Chiefs are one of two NFL teams without a turnover this season and have nine takeaways -- four interceptions and five fumble recoveries -- in three games. It’s the best margin in the league and points-off-takeaways have accounted for 42.3 percent of the Chiefs’ 71 points this season.
The Giants have an NFL-high 13 turnovers and their minus-9 margin is tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) as the worst among the league’s 32 teams.
“We have to make sure we’re holding onto the football,” said Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who has an NFL-leading eight interceptions and has been sacked 11 times. “We can’t turn the ball over and especially against this team. Their offense doesn’t turn the ball over and is efficient, so we have to make sure we have the same attitude.”
The Giants’ odds of winning the Super Bowl have climbed to 75-1 from 22-1 at the start of the season, according to online sportsbook Bovada.lv, tied for 19th out of the 32 NFL teams.
The New York Jets, with a 2-1 record, still have longer odds to win the Super Bowl at 125-1. The Giants’ chances are somewhat buoyed by a lack of depth in the NFC East, as the Eagles and Washington Redskins are a combined 1-5 while the Cowboys are in first place at 2-1, Bovada.lv sportsbook manager Kevin Bradley said in an e-mail.
“You would think at 0-3 that the Giants should be a bit higher,” Bradley said. “But considering the strength, or lack thereof, of that division and if they get a couple wins a row, they could be right back in the mix.”
The other three NFC East teams are also on the road this weekend, with the Redskins visiting the Oakland Raiders, the Cowboys in San Diego against the Chargers and the Eagles taking on the undefeated Broncos in Denver.
“We can’t change the start of the season, but we can start right now and change the ending,” Manning said. “That’s all we’re focusing on.”