Thanks to all the early-season wishful thinking, the Giants are the best bet to end the current football ratings drought. They’re the only team in the league’s three most-watched cities still right in the hunt for a postseason berth (along with two other teams with a 1-5 start). The Giants have four big wins heading into a tough stretch, at the 49ers, Cardinals, Falcons and at Cowboys, a team that routed them earlier this season.
But the Giants are a gut-check game from being one of the worst teams in the league. Their defense was gutted when Jason Pierre-Paul tore up his right hand and out for the season; they failed to reach the playoffs with their latest cornerback injuries and inexperience, which could lead to more. The one bright spot has been quarterback Eli Manning, who has averaged a ton of yards per game and won two of his last three, the latest a brilliant 95-yard throwback touchdown to Odell Beckham Jr.
The Giants’ already-crowded schedule is only getting more difficult: Their next four games are on the road against first-place teams: the Rams, 49ers, Falcons and Vikings. They don’t play in Week 14 at home against the Buccaneers (the game before New Year’s Day’s Sunday night game against the Jaguars), and they’re a game behind the Cowboys for first place in the NFC East.
Teams in playoff contention as of Monday night’s game: Los Angeles Rams (12-0), Carolina Panthers (9-3), Philadelphia Eagles (8-3), Atlanta Falcons (7-4), Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4), Kansas City Chiefs (7-4), Seattle Seahawks (7-4) and the Green Bay Packers (7-4).
Second-place teams won 43 of the season’s 44 games so far, and only one — the Saints vs. Rams in Week 3 — has come down to the final play. The final score of last Sunday’s Cowboys’ win over the Redskins on a Blake Bortles field goal with three seconds remaining? The Cowboys, 26-23. (To be fair, the Cowboys had to run down the clock in a dog fight against a historically bad team.)
Here are the betting odds for playoff teams based on point spreads to win the Super Bowl. Vegas is expecting the Cowboys and Rams to be the last two teams standing — just not this weekend.
And here’s how the odds are looking for the other 10 teams still alive in the playoff chase: