NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, December 19, 2015, 1:48 PM
It’s one down and seven single-elimination games to go for the Giants to win Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara and then bring home their fifth Super Bowl trophy.
Of course, if you’ve been watching the Giants all season, this is absurd to even speculate about — except this is the holiday season when it’s okay to dream about goals that appear completely out of reach.
All of Blue Nation can ask Santa very nicely to get them to his hometown of Santa Clara.
You never know.
The Giants are in a first-place tie with the Eagles and Washington at 6-7 in the NFC East and can’t afford to lose another game. If they lose to the undefeated Panthers on Sunday or the Vikings next Sunday night or in the final game of the regular season on Jan. 3 against Philly, it would really take a miracle for them to make the playoffs.
Eli Manning knows the drill when it comes to a late-season charge to a Super Bowl.
If they win their last three but Washington beats the Bills, Eagles and Cowboys, then Dan Snyder wins the NFC East based on the division record tie-breaker. The Giants could still get a wild-card at 9-7, but that would require the Vikings (8-5) losing to the Packers on the final Sunday. The Giants would win a 9-7 tie-breaker over the Vikings because, in this scenario, they would have defeated them.
The Seahawks are also 8-5 but have easy home games the next two weeks against the Browns and Rams and will get to 10 wins, which the Giants can’t do.
Here’s what the Giants have going for them that no other team has:
Eli to Odell. They’re unstoppable.
If the Giants are to make a march into the playoffs it would be on the back of Odell Beckham.
Manning was in the same zone Monday night in Miami as Phil Simms was in Pasadena for Super Bowl XXI. Beckham can beat any coverage, so if Manning stays hot and the offensive line gives him time, the Giants could be a dangerous team the last three weeks and in January.
Of course, the most ridiculous stat is the Giants would be 11-2 if the game were 58 minutes long. The reason they are 6-7 is because they have not been good enough to finish. One solid game against a bad Miami team doesn’t mean all is cured, but Manning-to-Beckham is the reason the Giants have a chance.
The road map for the Giants to navigate their way from MetLife to Santa Clara includes what will be a brutally cold game next Sunday night in Minnesota, a home game in the wild card round, most likely against the Seahawks, then likely road games in Charlotte and Arizona before potentially facing the Patriots for the third time in the Super Bowl.
The seven games the Giants must win to be Super Bowl champs again:
Panthers: They are 13-0 with the Falcons and Bucs coming up, so if they can get by the Giants, they will really have to screw up — or Ron Rivera will decide to rest Cam Newton — not to join the 2007 Patriots as the only 16-0 teams in the regular season. All of a sudden, Josh Norman, a fourth-year guy from Coastal Carolina, has supposedly emerged as the league’s best cornerback. If he shuts down Beckham, I’ll buy in.
Vikings: The forecast for the prime time kickoff calls for a low of 22 degrees with only a 20% chance of precipitation. The NFL cares so much for its fans that if flexed this game to Sunday night. Remember, the Vikings are playing outside until their new $ 1.1 billion, state-of-the-art, fixed-roof stadium is ready next season. One of Manning’s best games came in the bitter cold of Green Bay in the 2007 NFC title game, but somebody has got to rub some Vaseline on Tom Coughlin’s face.
Eagles: By Jan. 3, Chip Kelly, inventor of football, may have already cut DeMarco Murray. If this game is for the NFC East — the Eagles play Washington on Dec. 26 in an elimination game — there is no way Sam Bradford is beating Manning.
Wild card round: If the Giants get in as the NFC East champs, they get a first-round home game. The two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks will probably be the opponent as the No. 1 wild-card team. The last time the Seahawks played at MetLife in the regular season they beat Eli and the Giants 23-0 late in 2013. Then they came back for Super Bowl XLVIII and beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos, 43-8. That’s 66-8. They like the place.
Divisional round: If the Giants can end Carolina’s undefeated season Sunday, they can go and beat them in Charlotte in the playoffs. Round 2: Beckman vs. Norman.
NFC Championship Game: Playing this out, it will be the Giants at Arizona in Glendale one week after the Cardinals eliminate the Packers. Can the Giants win this game? They’ve done well in that stadium in the postseason. David Tyree and Plaxico Burress can be honorary captains.
Super Bowl 50: Giants-Patriots 3.0. Is there any reason to think Bill Belichick and Tom Brady can ever beat Coughlin and Manning in a Super Bowl?
That’s the road map for the Giants. The sad truth: They are likely to run out of gas way before Santa Clara.
GIANT OF A PANTHER
Giants GM Jerry Reese helped put together two Super Bowl champions for the Giants. Dave Gettleman, who worked for the Giants from 1998-2012, was a key member of the personnel department. Now Gettleman could win another ring in his third season as the Panthers GM. When Giants GM Ernie Accorsi retired after the 2006 season, he recommended Reese as his replacement. But Accorsi promised Gettleman if he was ever in position to help him, he would make it up to him. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson hired Accorsi as a consultant in 2013 to help him find a new GM and he recommended Gettleman. The Panthers have made the playoffs in all three of Gettleman’s seasons. “I’m like a proud father,” Accorsi said. “We have a close personal relationship. It turned out this was the perfect job with a great owner, a great town and great franchise.”
Peyton Manning continues to sit out with injury, but what do Broncos do when he’s healthy?
PEYTON IN THE WINGS
Peyton Manning returned to practice Wednesday and Thursday but Brock Osweiler will start Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh. The Osweiler bandwagon was loading up after he played well and the Broncos beat the Bears and Patriots in his first two starts, but Denver has scored only one offensive touchdown in the last two games — a victory over San Diego and a loss to Oakland when the Raiders had 126 yards of total offense — and No. 18 is warming up in the bullpen. Manning has not played since throwing four interceptions on Nov. 15. He was benched in the third quarter and after the game it was revealed he had a partially torn plantar fascia. After practicing for two days, Manning reported his foot was sore and was held out of Friday’s practice.
If the Broncos lose to the Steelers, whose only loss in the last five games was at Seattle, and doctors clear Manning and he says he’s ready to go, then I would not be surprised if Gary Kubiak went back to Manning. If Manning is healthy and Kubiak sticks with Osweiler, it’s possible Manning will make a stink. In what could be his final season, if Kubiak won’t let him play, I don’t think Manning will accept it quietly.
The Broncos’ lead over the Chiefs, who have won seven straight after a 1-5 start, is down to two games. Kansas City finishes against the Ravens, Browns and Raiders and is likely to get to 11-5. If the Broncos lose two out of three to the Steelers, Bengals and Chargers and also finish 11-5, then the Chiefs win the AFC West based on a better division record. Considering the Broncos started 6-0 and had a five-game lead on the Chiefs with 10 to play, it would be an incredible choke job if the Broncos blow it.
SEE YOU, ST. LOUIS?
The Rams might have played their final game in St. Louis on Thursday night when they beat the Bucs. St. Louis has a proposal on the table for a new $ 1.1 billion riverfront stadium to keep them in town, but there is a $ 100 million gap in stadium costs that the NFL is being asked to make up. Considering Rams owner Stan Kroenke wants to move to Los Angeles, it’s not likely the league puts up the extra cash. The NFL contributes $ 200 million for new stadium costs and the city of St. Louis wants $ 300 million to close the deal. When it’s all settled, perhaps next month at a league meeting in Houston, I think the Rams and Chargers will partner in a stadium on the old Hollywood Park site where Kroenke bought land. The Raiders? They look like the odd team out. It would be a form of payback for the late Raiders owner Al Davis spending too many days in court suing the NFL and then testifying on behalf of the USFL and against his NFL partners in its $ 1.69 billion antitrust suit in 1986. Davis’ son Mark is running the team.