Russian roulette requires taking a chance on pulling the trigger and hoping the bullet doesn’t surface, cutting you short like Bo Jackson’s career. For the hip, fearless fellows who survive, great respect and possibly even some fame follows. For the unlucky ones, the clock strikes midnight with a self-induced ending.
This is the third year in a row that the Giants have endangered their playoff chances with a weak second half showing and dud game in Week 15. No matter how quickly the Giants start, they fall back to the pack, turning what should be a cakewalk, into a risky game of playoff Russian roulette. With these cats, it’s never easy.
One week they post 52 points, their most since 1986, and destroy the Saints with Eli Manning looking primed to go on one of his Joe Montana–like playoff runs. The next week – hold up! – Eli looks like Joe Kapp, and they get shut out in the regular season for the first time in 16 years, by the Falcons.
In recent years, this daredevil, rollercoaster formula has worked. In 07’ Manning scratched the Giants to the playoffs, some wicked road wins and a chip. Last season, the Giants were in a similar position, having to win their last two games against the Jets and Dallas, to make the playoffs. They had lost five of six, before Manning threw a 99-yard TD pass to Victor Cruz that put the Jets season in the grave, and propelled NY to an improbable win over Tom Brady’s Pats for the second time in the Super Bowl.
Those types of wins make you feel invincible, but even Houdini ate it eventually. The Giants formula isn’t full proof either. In 2010, they torched their playoff hopes by blowing a 31-10 lead against the Eagles faster than you can do The Jerk, losing 38-31. The 34-0 loss to Atlanta on Sunday has Big Blue’s season looking more like ’10. The Falcons delivered a head shot to the Giants, and despite their history of bouncing back, this one will be hard to recover from.
After busting out with a 6-2 record and a fat NFC East lead, the Giants typically lost four of the next six games, are struggling to make the playoffs and mired in a three-way tie for first. With two shots left in the chamber against an angry Ravens team hunting a division title and a pesky Philly team that gives them more fits than Bebe‘s Kids, the Giants time and luck are running out.
Basically, any of the three teams that wins its final two games will make the playoffs. The Redskins and the Cowboys play each other in Week 17, so they can’t both go 2-0, but if one of them does, they will be the NFC East champions. The silver lining for the Giants is even if they blow the NFC East, they can win out and gain a wild-card berth.
The way the Giants have been playing, that’s a Buffie The Body ass-sized if. Momentum is everything during the December stretch. Manning started the season playing like an MVP, but has fizzled in his past five games, throwing six picks and lacking the confidence and crispness in his passing.
Washington, on the other hand, is on the upswing, having won five straight with RG3 and his formidable backup KC1. The Skins defense is improved, the offense is clicking and Shanahan’s mid-season eulogy is becoming the motivational ploy of legends.
Dallas is getting it in too, and Tony Romo is hotter than Rosa Acosta in a two-piece, on a King Magazine cover. Since the October 28th loss to Big Blue, that left Dallas at 3-4, the Cowboys have gone 5-2 in the past seven games. In those 7 games, Romo has 13 touchdowns and just three picks with a QB rating of 101.4.
Along with a healthy DeMarco Murray, an inspired Dez Bryant and a revived pass-rush, the Cowboys are also looking more like a playoff team than the Giants, whose all-world D-Line of Osi, Tuck and JPP, has been M.I.A. for weeks. Still, Eli and the boys remain confident, with recent history on their side.
“If you say at the beginning of the season, hey, you have two games left and you got to win both of them to be in the playoffs, I think you take it,” Manning told the NY Daily News. “These are the circumstances you want to be in.”
Manning sounds drunk off past success. The Giants are used to flipping a switch and making it happen, but the Russian roulette kings are in competition with new players who have entered the game. The way these other NFC squads are performing in crunch time spells doom for the defending champs, whose luck is running out. Bang. Bang.