Another Cowboys win makes Giants road to NFC East title harder

The Minnesota Vikings sure haven’t done the Giants any favors this season.

The Vikings handed Big Blue a 24-10 defeat at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 4, and then on Thursday night, Minnesota delivered a 17-15 choke-job loss to the visiting Cowboys when a win would have given the Giants control of their own destiny to win the NFC East.

A Dallas loss would have dropped the Cowboys to 10-2 and given the Giants (8-3) a chance to move within a game in the division with a victory in Pittsburgh late Sunday afternoon over the Steelers. Ben McAdoo’s team then would have hosted Jerry Jones’ ‘Boys on Dec. 11 at MetLife Stadium with the opportunity to draw even at 10-3 apiece and move into first place in the NFC East on head-to-head tiebreaker with three games to play.

Instead, a sloppy Dallas team Thursday escaped to its 11th straight win since losing at home to the Giants in Week 1, 20-19, increasing already-heavy odds that the Giants will qualify for the playoffs as a wild card if they do in fact snap their four-year postseason drought in January.

The stakes don’t change for the Giants in their five remaining games, however. They understood as the calendar turned to December that they still have a lot to prove despite an 8-3 record, a six-game winning streak and a two-game hold on the NFC’s top wild-card spot.

“We know we’ve got to keep going,” shutdown corner Janoris Jenkins said Thursday. “We’ve got to win December.”

That’s the product of playing a fair amount of bad football and inching by several bad teams. Doubters are circling the Giants – whose last five wins have come against bottom-feeders with a combined 14-41-1 record – as they enter a five-game gauntlet of playoff-caliber opponents who are 34-20-1 overall.

At least the Vikings (6-6) also helped the Giants by impairing Minnesota’s own wild-card chances and slipping further behind NFC North leading Detroit (7-4). The Lions, Big Blue’s Week 15 opponent, wouldn’t threaten the Giants’ top wild-card spot by winning that division.

A sloppy Dallas team Thursday escaped to its 11th straight win.

A sloppy Dallas team Thursday escaped to its 11th straight win.

(Jim Mone/AP)

Minnesota can perhaps chalk its loss up to bad karma for promoting bigot special teams coach Mike Priefer to the head position Thursday in place of Mike Zimmer, who had emergency eye surgery the night before. Priefer was suspended in 2014 for saying in 2012, as first told by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe: “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”

The big question for the Giants, though, is whether they will help themselves against the toughest part of their schedule, which concludes against current second wild-card Washington (6-4-1). These aren’t just better opponents; they’re hungrier, too.

Pittsburgh, for example, has talent and playoff pedigree, plus the Steelers are 6-5, out of a playoff spot and desperate. That’s a dangerous combination for an opponent playing at home in Heinz Field, no less.

“This whole month of December is going to be really big for both of us down the stretch,” defensive end Olivier Vernon said of the Giants and Steelers. “We are going to see who wants it more. … It’s going to be one of those games that tests us … to see what we’re about.”

No one knows yet truly what these Giants are about. Are they as good as their 8-3 record, or is that record masking fatal flaws in their roster, game plan and execution?

Everyone will find out soon. Big Blue must face the Steelers and the Cowboys both on 10 days’ rest coming off Thursday night games in the next two weeks. An 8-3 record could balloon to 10-3 and rekindle talk of chasing an NFC East title, or it could slip to 8-5 and provoke questions of whether they’ll even get in.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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