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Why These 7-3 Overachievers Are Postseason Longshots


Will the New York Giants make the playoffs this season? The Giants’ playoff odds still favor “yes,” as would be the case for most 7-3 teams. As of November 23, FanDuel Sportsbook is giving them -144 odds to reach the postseason and +126 odds to miss it. But a strong case could be made that they’re postseason longshots, with a nine-win season serving more as a realistic ceiling than a floor.

Soft Schedule Turns Difficult for New York Giants

Since losing to the Cowboys (who started Cooper Rush for the injured Dak Prescott) in Week 3, New York has one signature win (the Ravens) and four victories against teams with 4-7, 3-7, 3-8, and 1-8-1 records. They also defeated the now 3-8 Panthers in Week 2.

Sure, most teams have their fair share of favorable matchups. But each of those five wins was by eight points or less. The Giants are 21st in points scored. They’re threading the needle between W’s and L’s, winding up on the plus side more often than not, and often late in games. In fact, they’ve scored the eighth most fourth-quarter points in the league.

MORE: NFL Super Bowl Odds Week 12

Their remaining schedule is perhaps the toughest in the NFL, with two games against Philly, two against Washington, and tough matchups against Minnesota and Indy. Home tilts against the Commanders and Colts offer their best hope at nine wins. Beyond that, they’ll need to play their best to hit 10 — a key number for teams vying for a playoff berth.

Key Losses: Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson

In the past few weeks, the Giants sent the disgruntled Kadarius Toney packing and then lost Wan’Dale Robinson to a torn ACL. Simply put, today’s Giants are a far cry from the September version, when Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard helped propel them to a surprising 2-0 start.

But with Shepard and now Robinson out for the season, Toney gone, and Kenny Golladay seemingly finished in New York, Daniel Jones has to lean more on Darius Slayton. As well as Slayton has played in a depleted receiving corps, he entered camp this summer as the likely No. 5 or even No. 6 wideout.

Aside from Slayton, their top healthy pass catchers consist of Richie James, Isaiah Hodgins, and Lawrence Cager. Yeah, exactly.

And back to Golladay: he’s dropped four passes on 10 targets (40%). In his first five seasons, he dropped only 13 balls on 391 targets (3.3%). Do you think he’s having fun playing this season?

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It All Rests on Saquon Barkley

As I’ve written for some time, this is perhaps the league’s most one-dimensional offense. The Titans, Texans, and perhaps one or two other teams could vie for this coveted prize. But with apologies to Derrick Henry, I would argue no team needs their RB more than the Giants need Barkley.

The problem is that Barkley is also one of the more injury-prone starting RBs. He missed most of 2020 and appeared to show lingering effects in an underwhelming, injury-shortened 2021 campaign.

Remarkably, he’s been durable this season. But how long can he keep this up?

Because he’s still on pace for 415 touches, which could balloon to 500 if the Giants somehow make a deep postseason run. The all-time record is 531 (Terrell Davis in 1997). Only three other RBs in NFL history have hit 500+ touches.

Since 2015, no RB has matched Barkley’s pace across a full season — and for good reasons. As I shared with PFN Pass subscribers this summer, teams have learned the hard way that overworking their starting running backs increases injury and regression risks.

Barkley averaged a blistering 5.5 yards per carry in 97 attempts in his first five games. In his five games since, his usage has jumped (116 attempts), while efficiency has plummeted (3.6 yards per carry).

He’s also been far less effective in the passing game, catching 13 passes for only 67 yards in this recent five-game stretch. When compared to his 18-143 receiving line in his first five outings, we can see how defenses (such as the Lions) have focused more on stopping Barkley and daring Daniel Jones to beat them.

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Final Record Prediction

Heading into Week 12, the Giants’ playoff odds suggest that bookmakers still believe the 7-3 Giants will make the playoffs. The New York Times puts their odds at 67%. As referenced above, FanDuel Sportsbook and other sites are offering lines with considerably bigger payouts if you bet against New York.

I’m firmly in the latter camp. The Giants need a lot of things to break right to win nine games, and 10 would require a level of play I don’t think they can sustain.



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