For a while, the Giants were one of the biggest surprises of the 2022 NFL season, racing out to a 6-1 start under new coach Brian Daboll. In the five games since, they've logged just a single victory. And after Sunday's 20-20 tie with the rival Commanders, they aren't a lock to even make the playoffs. What, exactly, is their path to the postseason entering Week 14? Who's left on their schedule? And what are the keys to clinching their first playoff berth in six years?
We're glad you asked. Here's everything you need to know about the Giants' 2022 playoff outlook:
If the season ended today, the Giants (7-4-1) would be in the playoffs. After 13 weeks, New York tentatively owns the No. 6 seed in the NFC. That's the second-best of three wild card spots, behind the rival Cowboys (9-3) and ahead of the NFC West's Seahawks (7-5). If the current seedings were to remain in place through the end of the regular season, the Giants would be scheduled to visit the 49ers (8-4) in the opening round of the playoffs.
Where the Giants are hurting, despite their current placement among NFC playoff hopefuls, is their track record within the conference and division. New York can retain its spot by simply maintaining a superior overall record. But the G-Men enter Week 14 just 0-2-1 in the NFC East and 3-4-1 in the NFC, meaning other teams (like the Eagles and Cowboys) are better positioned to secure a division title, and others (like the Seahawks and Lions) are better positioned to win a wild-card tiebreaker.
- Week 14 vs. Eagles (11-1)
- Week 15 at Commanders (7-5-1)
- Week 16 at Vikings (10-2)
- Week 17 vs. Colts (4-8-1)
- Week 18 at Eagles (11-1)
In a wild-card race, every game is big. But it's the NFC matchups that matter most, and four of the Giants' final five fall in that category, with three coming in their own division. The Eagles figure to be the toughest opponent on tap, and they get them twice. But if the Giants can pull off just a single upset of Philadelphia (11-1), their path to the postseason would become dramatically easier; beating the Eagles in either Week 14 or Week 18 would instantly propel their chances of securing a berth from about 65% to 80%, according to New York Times simulations. That may be easier said than done, of course. Not only has Daboll's squad failed to win a single NFC East battle to this point, but the Eagles have , thriving on the ground, through the air and with a takeaway-happy defense.
The most important game probably lies in Week 15, when Big Blue will rematch the Commanders on "Sunday Night Football." New York has already proven it can match up well with Washington, and dealing a blow to the Commanders would obviously put a dent in one of the Giants' chief competitors for one of the two wild card spots behind Dallas. They will, however, have an especially tall task immediately afterward. Week 16's Vikings game, which will require a banged-up secondary to cover Justin Jefferson, falls on a Saturday, meaning New York will travel to Minnesota on a slightly short week.
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Areas to improve
- Offensive creativity: You can only expect so much oomph from a unit that has Daniel Jones throwing to Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins and the ghost of Kenny Golladay. A shuffling, banged-up line doesn't help. But if Daboll and Co. want to counteract the subpar personnel, a bit more trickery might help. They've rightly leaned more on Jones' legs this year, but how about incorporating more reverses or jet sweeps, or even Wildcat options, to offset a lack of downfield push?
- More aggressiveness: This is the easy one, considering everyone is harping on Daboll for his conservative approach in overtime against Washington. But it has merit: the Giants may be built to win ugly, low-scoring games, but the fact is they're not going to make any noise against superior clubs, both now and later in January, if they don't take more gambles. Until Jones, or whomever the future QB is, has a real receiving corps, throwing deep will be a major risk. Here, however, is where Bruce Arians' motto has to creep in: no risk it, no biscuit. The offense may lack talent, but it can at least go out fighting.
- Healthier secondary: All the Giants can do here is be patient, but the eventual return of safety Xavier McKinney and cornerback Adoree' Jackson would at least bolster the depth on the back end. New York has been a respectable pass "D" for the most part, but Jackson in particular was playing relatively well on the outside before hurting his knee. Having reinforcements on that side of the ball might go a long way toward aiding the late-year run.
We don't like the Giants in either of their upcoming Eagles matchups, to be frank. And the Vikings should be clear favorites as well. But the key really lies with the Washington rematch. Whereas the Giants have been blamed recently for going conservative, the Commanders are inherently more erratic, leaning on Taylor Heinicke's gutsy throws alongside a two-horse ground attack. We think that will play into the Giants' favor in their Sunday night matchup, when Wink Martindale's "D" should also have a few starters back in the lineup. A win there, plus one over the mostly hapless Colts, basically locks them ahead of Washington in the wild card race. Here's our forecast:
- Week 14 vs. Eagles: L (7-5-1)
- Week 15 at Commanders: W (8-5-1)
- Week 16 at Vikings: L (8-6-1)
- Week 17 vs. Colts: W (9-6-1)
- Week 18 at Eagles: L (9-7-1)
Result: No. 7 seed wild card