In 3 1/2 hours the Giants went from king of the NFC wild cards to "Oh, my god, we could be out of the playoffs." At this point in the season, after New York's surprising loss to the Redskins at the Meadowlands on Sunday night, you no longer shake your head and ask how the Giants could do the things they do—and why. You just accept their split personality and try to figure out which Giants will show up for the next game.
New York's 9--5 record still looks pretty good compared with the other NFC wild-card hopefuls—Minnesota (8--6), New Orleans (7--7), Washington (7--7)—at this stage, but in two weeks it easily could be 9--7, and each of those three clubs would have the tiebreaker edge on New York. I wouldn't want to be anywhere near Buffalo in December, let alone try to play football there, but that will be Step 1 for the Giants this Sunday. Step 2 will be historic, if the Patriots get by the Dolphins, because New York would be New England's last obstacle to 16--0. For now, Buffalo is enough for the Giants to worry about.
Eli Manning (above) was getting a lot of zip on the ball as he put together his remarkable total of 34 incompletions against the Redskins. But I counted eight drops by his receivers. Coming out of those icy winds, his fastball must have felt like a rock as it hit unprotected hands. I look for more drops at Buffalo, and I'll take the Bills in a low-scorer.
This late in the season it's hard to find games that have impact, but Washington at Minnesota has direct bearing on the wild card. Normally I'd like the Skins after their sturdy showing against the Giants, but ... ah, I might as well trust my instincts and go for it: Washington's the pick. And in the other NFC game of significance, Saints over Philly in a repeat of last year's divisional playoff matchup.
Last week 3--3
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