Win and in.
It's not the only scenario for the New York Giants to clinch their first playoff berth since 2016, but it is the surest path. The Giants, who fell to 8-6-1 last week on a game-ending, 61-yard field goal in Minnesota, host the Colts (4-10-1) on New Year's Day needing just one victory in either of the last two weeks to play past their regular-season finale in Philadelphia.
Below are the ways the Giants can secure a spot in the 14-team field in Week 17:
- NYG win OR
- NYG tie + SEA loss or tie + WAS loss or tie OR
- NYG tie + SEA loss or tie + DET loss or tie OR
- NYG tie + WAS loss or tie + DET loss or tie + GB loss or tie OR
- SEA loss + WAS loss OR
- SEA loss + DET loss + GB loss or tie OR
- WAS loss + DET loss + GB loss
And here are three things they must do to take care of the scenario No. 1:
Live in the moment
To steal a hockey term, Brian Daboll stood on his head this week. Reporters fired off question after question about how his team will handle the magnitude of the win-and-in scenario. The Canadian-born head coach blocked them all.
"Same way we've been doing it all year: Just do the things we need to do to try to win a game and focus on that week," said Daboll, who is a five-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots and won a national championship at the University of Alabama. "That's what's hard to do in this league. There's a lot of other things going on, and I understand all the questions. But it is really, truly – live in that moment. Control the things that you can control. And each day, have a good day. And then ultimately, go out there on Sunday and play and coach a good game."
'Make the right decision'
No team has turned over the ball fewer times than the Giants (15), and no team has turned over the ball more than the Colts (30). The Giants have the advantage in a lot of categories this week, but nothing can derail that faster than losing the turnover battle.
"I think the biggest thing, and we've preached it since we've been here, is just 'Make the right decision,'" Daboll said in his weekly interview with Giants.com's Michael Eisen. "If the right decision is to throw it down the field, then we throw it down the field. If the right decision is to throw it on a 12-yard route, then throw it on a 12-yard route. If it's a check down, if it's use your legs, if it's throw it away, (then do that). That's playing quarterback in this league – decision-making. There are a few plays here or there that will be really clean, and you'll be able to see it. But a lot of them are muddy – whether that's a coverage disguise, whether it's pressure in the pocket, whether you've got to move a little bit. So, it's making good decisions under pressure, not just in the fourth quarter, but as the game goes along – whether that's a pressure by a linebacker, pressure by a defensive lineman, just tight coverage and you're kind of waiting for things to happen. A lot of things happen quickly at that position, and the number one requirement is 'Make the right decision.' So, he's done a good job for us with that."
Find the hidden yards
Under special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone, the Indianapolis Colts lead the NFL in averaging 28.4 yards per kickoff return, six yards above the league average and nearly two yards more than the Lions at No. 2.
"Well, they bring it out," said Daboll, who's not expecting many touchbacks, especially in January in East Rutherford. "(Dallis Flowers) doesn't take a knee very often. So, whether we kick it eight yards deep, or it goes a yard deep, most of the time he's going to bring it out and return it. So, that's something that we've put an emphasis on and really worked hard at this week. They're good at it."
The Giants, meanwhile, allow 25.2 yards per kickoff return, the fifth-most in the league. As a whole, they've had some adventures in special teams, including a blocked punt last week. They'll need to avoid those miscues while on the verge of making it to the postseason.
View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts.