Giants hope to snag NFC East title for playoff game at MetLife

Odell Beckham Jr. paraded down the Giants’ sideline Sunday night after scoring his blistering 61-yard touchdown to beat the Dallas Cowboys and soaked up the raucous atmosphere at MetLife Stadium, urging the delirious fans for even more.

Beckham feels a noticeable Big Blue home-field advantage and hasn’t always been able to say that. The Giants (9-4) are 6-1 at MetLife entering their final home game Sunday against the Detroit Lions (9-4), and if they can win out, a couple Cowboys losses would mean a Giants NFC East title and at least one home-field playoff game.

It’s not impossible.

“I don’t think it’s any disrespect to the fans we have out there, but the past two years, I remember them leaving games,” Beckham said Wednesday of the Giants faithful. “A specific memory I’ve had, stuck with me ever since, was the Cardinals game (in Week 2) my rookie year (of 2014).

“Ted Ginn runs a punt back, they go up 22-14 with nine minutes, 22 seconds left, and I watched people in that stadium just leave like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re outta here. The game’s over. We don’t wanna be caught in traffic,'” Beckham recalled. “And it was kinda shocking to me at the time. But you could tell (Sunday) that they’re very into it, they see what we have going on, and hopefully we give them some hope and something to cheer for.”

The Giants refused to let the Cowboys clinch the NFC East on their home turf, and now they have a loftier goal: To catch the ‘Boys in the standings. The Giants own the head-to-head tiebreaker after sweeping the two-game season series, so if the teams finish with the same record, Big Blue will take its first division crown since their 2011 Super Bowl run.

“That’s the goal,” strong safety Landon Collins said. “We’re not talking about it, but that’s our mindset. That’s the goal. We’ve got to hope the Cowboys lose, though, and usually they don’t lose. So we’ve just got to play our ball.”

The Giants right now have only a slight chance of winning the NFC East and securing a first-round bye. Fivethirtyeight.com calls it a 5% chance of winning the division and 4% for a bye; footballoutsiders.com has it at 4.8% and 4.5%, respectively.

Giants fans cheered Big Blue's 10-7 win over Dallas.

Giants fans cheered Big Blue’s 10-7 win over Dallas.

(John Collins)

However, a win over the NFC North-leading Lions would drastically increase the odds if Dallas (11-2) also lost Sunday night to the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5). In that scenario, the Giants’ odds of winning the division would jump to 21%, the chances for a first-round bye to 18%, per fivethirtyeight.com’s NFL playoff simulator.

The Cowboys will have to lose at least two of their next three, but Dallas’ remaining schedule is no cake walk: home against the Bucs, who have won five straight; home against the Lions, who have won five in a row; then at accomplished spoiler Philadelphia in Week 17.

“You never know what can happen,” Beckham said. “I just know if we win these next three games we have the best chance of winning division. We’ve got to focus on us and winning the next three games.”

The Giants can clinch their first postseason berth in five years this week, believe it or not, with a win, a Washington loss, and a loss or tie by both the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.

The Giants’ remaining schedule isn’t easy: They must visit the Eagles Thursday night prior to Christmas, before heading to Washington in Week 17. So today’s optimism could become tomorrow’s panic with a loss and wins from several other NFC contenders just as well.

The Giants’ 6-1 record at home is tied for their most victories in a single season at MetLife Stadium since its 2010 opening (they went 6-2 in 2012), though. They hope Sunday isn’t their final game in the building. If it is, they’ve at least put pressure on the Cowboys to win while hearing Big Blue’s footsteps.

“Dallas was the best team in the NFL, and we beat them twice,” left guard Justin Pugh said. “It gives us confidence. I think it takes them back a little bit … We want to win the division, but we’re gonna need some real help for that.”

Tags:
nfl
new york giants
dallas cowboys

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