Sure, the Giants (3-7) have won just 30% of their games this season and only the New York Jets and Chicago Bears have scored fewer points. But the Giants have won two straight and have a 23.9% chance of winning the division, according to the projection of ESPN's Football Power Index.
Only the Eagles (3-6-1), at 44.1%, have a better chance of representing the division heading into the final six weeks of the season.
The Dallas Cowboys (3-7) and Washington Football Team (3-7), who play Thursday, are also in the mix. The Giants' advantage is they already swept Washington and have the best division record at 3-2, which could help in tiebreakers.
"Keep winning football games," receiver Darius Slayton said late last week. "We've been able to find a way to win the last two. I think the more momentum you can build going down the backstretch of a season leading [into] the playoffs, the more wins, the better."
The opportunity is there for the Giants to make a postseason cameo, but only if they follow this road to the playoffs:
Sunday's home game at the Bengals (1 p.m. ET, Fox) is a must-win game for the Giants out of their bye. On paper it's their easiest remaining matchup, especially with Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow out with a knee injury.
The Giants must handle the unusual position of being considered favorites. The only other game they weren't the underdog this season was their first meeting with Washington. The only other game they might be favored is Week 17 at home against Dallas (3-7).
That is what makes this game so crucial. After Cincinnati, the Giants have four straight games against winning teams. It's going to be tough to win one against the Seattle Seahawks (7-3), Arizona Cardinals (6-4), Cleveland Browns (7-3) and Baltimore Ravens (6-4) considering the Giants haven't beaten a team that finished a season with a winning record since defeating Chicago late in 2018.
As for Slayton's belief they have momentum on their side, coach Joe Judge isn't buying that at all.
"I don't really believe that exists, to be honest with you," Judge said. "Nothing that we did against Philadelphia or Washington is going to help us against Cincinnati. We have to learn from what we did wrong and make corrections, but we have to come back [this Monday] and have a good, strong practice."
The Giants are also dealing with COVID-19 limitations. They had four players test positive last week, with three (tight end Kaden Smith, offensive tackle Matt Peart and wide receiver Dante Pettis) not expected to be back by Sunday. They're also going to be working virtually this week aside from practices, according to a source.
It doesn't matter. The Giants likely need three more wins to have a chance at the division. Cincinnati is one they must have.
Limit the Daniel Jones turnovers
It's really pretty simple. The Giants are 3-0 in games Jones has started when he hasn't committed a turnover. They are 3-16 when he does.
Jones has clearly increased his awareness of this issue. He didn't commit a turnover in either of the Giants' past two games, wins against Washington and Philadelphia.
"It's just a better understanding in certain situations when to press and when not to press and when to take those risks and when not to," the quarterback said.
Does he start pressing again when the stiffer competition comes in key games down the stretch? The Giants better hope not. They're done if he does.
Don't disrupt the O-line growth
The Giants fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo during the bye week because of what was described by a source as a strong difference of opinion. Longtime NFL assistant Dave DeGuglielmo was hired in his place.
It was an ugly situation that involved a nasty verbal confrontation between Colombo and Judge. Colombo wasn't happy with Judge's fiddling, so much so that the idea of DeGuglielmo as a consultant was infuriating. Judge wasn't happy with Colombo's coaching, hence the addition of DeGuglielmo as a consultant.
Colombo felt like he was fighting for his guys and it ended up costing him his job, with vice president of security Jerry Meade doing the firing absent a face-to-face meeting with Judge.
All of this came after the Giants' offensive line seemed to be moving in the right direction. They have topped 150 yards rushing in three of their past four games.
Judge said the move was made with the "best interest of the New York Giants, short- and long-term."
Now, DeGuglielmo takes over with six weeks remaining. Does he tinker with technique at this point? Does he try to stay on the path Colombo was taking them?
"With six weeks left in the season, there is going to be a lot of continuity we're looking to keep in place and keep improving as we go through the rest of the season," Judge said. "Will there be adjustments as needed throughout the season? Yes. Are we going to look to turn everything upside down? No."
It's a tricky spot with so little time left in the season. Regardless, the Giants need the transition to be seamless for this not to throw the line off course. Fortunately for them, the matchups the next few weeks are favorable. Still, expect Judge to remain heavily involved to make sure the unit doesn't regress.
Beat Cowboys in Week 17
Forget that the Giants haven't beaten Dallas since the 2016 season. Or that they allowed backup QB Andy Dalton to drive the Cowboys down the field easily for a winning field goal in the final seconds of the first meeting this year.
There doesn't seem to be a realistic way to six or seven wins and a division title without beating Dallas in Week 17. It makes this game (and Cincinnati) must-wins if they are to capture the NFC East.