COMMENTARY | Down and out. That's how the situation surrounding the 0-3 New York Giants has been described all week.
Since 1978, when the league went to a 16-game schedule, only five teams have started the year 0-3 and made the playoffs. The Buffalo Bills, back in 1998, are the last team to pull it off.
But don't count these Giants out just yet. Here are three reasons why Big Blue can still make the playoffs:
The Schedule: How often can you say that a team playing in the NFC East can benefit from its schedule? This year, the Giants' division looks to be down a bit. The Dallas Cowboys are 2-1 but there are legitimate doubts about their ability to perform at a high level in the big spot. The Philadelphia Eagles are 1-2 under new head coach Chip Kelly, who is trying to bring his college system to the pros. And the Washington Redskins are 0-3 and struggling on both sides of the ball.
If the Giants win this week and Philadelphia loses (the Eagles play at Denver so there's a good chance of that happening), then New York moves into second place. The remaining schedule includes games against some of the league's best (Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions -- combined record of 14-4), but also consists of games against some of the NFL's weaker teams (Minnesota Vikings, Eagles, Oakland Raiders, Redskins, San Diego Chargers -- combined record of 3-12). It won't be easy, but there are wins out there.
The History: Remember 2011? The Giants were 7-7 and on the verge of not making the playoffs. They won their final two regular season games, then won three playoff games before beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl. In the 2007 season, the Giants won three straight road playoff games to get to the Super Bowl where they beat the 18-0 Patriots. In 2000, with doubt creeping in, coach Jim Fassel guaranteed they'd make the playoffs. The Giants won their last five regular season games and got to the Super Bowl.
Here's the point: the Giants have responded well to adversity. This isn't 1996, when the Giants started 0-3. This is a team with talent that's done it before. They can do it again.
The Personnel: This is where it gets tricky. Or does it? Right now the Giants have serious holes to fill. The offensive line is a mess, the running game has been non-existent, and there are issues on defense. But this is still a team with a franchise quarterback, a running back with incredible athletic ability, playmakers at wide receiver, and a defense that does have some talent. They also have a head coach who has won two Super Bowls.
This is not to say that the team doesn't have problems. After three games, it's obvious what those are. But this early in the season, I refuse to count out a team that has Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Jason Pierre-Paul, and others, on its roster.
On Sunday in Kansas City, we'll find out more about where this season is headed.
Charles Costello has followed the Giants for 30 years. He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the team during the 1997 season.
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