PHILADELPHIA -- It’s a long, convoluted long shot. It’s the embarrassing nightmare the New York Giants are trying to avoid. They've come too far and won too many games already to miss out on the postseason.
It’s mathematically possible (but improbable) that the Giants fail to make the playoffs for a fifth straight year after a 24-19 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. A lot has to happen, though.
The first of nine pins fell in Philadelphia when the Giants (10-5) lost for just the second time in 10 games. The other eight are:
5. The Giants lose to the Washington Redskins.
6. The Packers win at Detroit.
7. The Falcons beat the Saints.
8. The Buccaneers beat the Panthers.
Only if all eight of these things happen will the Giants finish in a three-way tie, with the Lions and Bucs at 10-6, for the two wild-card spots in the NFC and be left out. They would lose the tiebreakers and fall short, despite winning 10 games for the first time since 2008. If just one of the games ends differently than listed above, the Giants will clinch a playoff berth.
At this point, wide receiver Victor Cruz doesn’t care if the clinching happens over the weekend without a Giants win.
“As long as we get in, I don’t care which way, shape or form we get in,” he said. “We just want to get into the dance and see what happens.”
The Giants entered Thursday with a 99.3 percent chance of making the playoffs. The odds are still strongly in their favor after the loss.
Even in the off chance they don’t get any help this weekend, they’ll have an opportunity to beat Washington next week to secure their spot. They don't need to rely on anybody else.
"On to the next one," safety Landon Collins said. "We still control our destiny. We are going to make ends meet from that."
Collins is one of the few Giants who said he won't be watching what happens over the weekend. He doesn't watch football. He only plays. He won't be monitoring Packers-Vikings or Falcons-Panthers. Maybe someone will relay to him if the results work out in his team's favor.
Cruz will approach it differently. He plans to keep an eye on the action while spending time with his family over the holiday weekend. This is what the Giants are relegated to doing after losing on Thursday.
They had their opportunity in Philadelphia. They could have clinched a playoff berth on the field of a division rival. They could have put themselves in position to rest some of their banged-up players next week in Washington.
They didn't take care of business.
"I didn't coach well enough, and we didn't play well enough," said coach Ben McAdoo, who once again avoided any talk of the playoffs during his postgame news conference.
With Week 16 having just begun, the Giants are relegated to being cheerleaders.
“It is what it is,” defensive captain and starting linebacker Jonathan Casillas said.
It would take a massive collapse and a load of bad luck for the Giants to miss the postseason. They still have eight chances to get into the playoffs.
Eight should be more than enough.