6 NY Giants Teams Who Should’ve Made The Playoffs

Rodney Hampton and Danny Kanell

Rodney Hampton and Danny Kanell

The NFL recently expanded the playoff eligibility from 12 to 14 teams. Here’s a rundown of Giants teams from the past (1980 – Present) who would’ve, could’ve, or should’ve made the playoffs under the newNFL playoff format.

Danny Kanell 1998 NY Giants

New York Giants quarterback Danny Kanell

1998 New York Giants

Record: 8-8-0, 3rd in NFC East

Coach: Jim Fassel (8-8-0)

Points For: 287 (17.9/g) 23rd of 30

Points Against: 309 (19.3/g) 8th of 30

Expected W-L: 7.3-8.7

NOTE: Right off the bat. Full transparency. This is a could’ve scenario. More of an honorable mention than a sure thing.

The ’97 Giants made the playoffs thanks to a stingy defense and fullback Charles Way. Danny Kannell took over as QB and … managed not to fuck things up that badly. That team managed to blow a 9-point lead in the final 2 minutes to the Vikings in the Wild Card game.

I was a senior in high school and a virgin who never been kissed, but man it felt like I got involuntarily humped in the rump.

Sehorn went down in the ’98 preseason trying to return a kick. I still blame myself for drawing a sketch of the world’s greatest athlete and activating the jinx. Even without The Great White Hope (s’racist), the defense still held up.

Jesse Armstead (100+ combined tackles, 2 INTs, 3 forced fumbles, 5 sacks) and Michael Strahan (15 sacks) made the Pro Bowl with Stray earning 1st-Team All-Pro honors. Fifth-year D-end Chad Bratzke had 11 sacks! Third-year strong safety Percy Ellsworth led the squad with 5 picks. The offense, I regret to inform you, was still not great.

Sure, Gary Brown eked out 1,000 yards on the ground. We got Ike Hilliard back after a scary neck injury the previous season, and Chris Calloway (heidi-heidi-heidi-ho) was our leading receiver. Tiki wasn’t exactly franchise icon / villain Tiki Barber. Tyrone Wheatley — a Michigan Wolverine who I was VERY HIGH ON when drafted continued to be one of the biggest disappointments in my lifetime.

After leading the team to a 3-7 record, DK was benched for journeyman Kent Graham who led the Giants to a 5-1 record down the stretch, including a MASSIVE upset win over the undefeated Broncos.

All you fact-checkers out there are probably seething because I’m suggesting the ’98 Giants would’ve made the 14-team playoff format. Truth is the Bucs also went 8-8 and we lost to them, so they’d win the tiebreaker. We needed the 3-12 Bengals led by … Eric Kresser and Paul Justin… to come up with the season finale upset. Instead, they got trounced in a 35-0 shutout. Maybe if the Panthers, Vikings or Packers came up clutch, the Giants would’ve slid in to the postseason.

But, FICTION CAN BE FUN. The Cardinals ended up with the last playoff spot at 9-7. We swept the Cards that season. SEVEN… 7… seven Cardinal wins were by 3 points or less. If ONE of those games doesn’t go ‘Zona’s way, we’re in. Jake The Snake Plummer upset the Cowboys in the first round, officially ending the Cowboys dynasty and starting their current two-decade-long slump.

If the G-Men get in, it’d be 2 vs 7: We would’ve gone up against the Falcons in full-on Dirty Bird mode. We faced ATL in the regular season, losing 34-20. Game was 14-13 at half. I’m not saying we win. We probably don’t win. But, it’d be fun to watch, especially with Kent Graham straight up feeling himself.

Steve Smith 2009 New York Giants

New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith

2009 New York Giants

Record: 8-8-0, 3rd in NFC East

Coach: Tom Coughlin (8-8-0)

Points For: 402 (25.1/g) 8th of 32

Points Against: 427 (26.7/g) 30th of 32

Expected W-L: 7.4-8.6

Take the ’98 Giants and Missy Misdemeanor Elliott that noise. Flip it and reverse it. The offense was ROLLING with Jet Blue in full effect – rookie Hakeem Nicks (16.8 yards per catch), the other Steve Smith (157 TARGETS! and a Pro Bowl), and second-year wideout Mario Manningham (14.4 yards per reception). Eli had 4,000+ yards passing and 27 touchdowns, but he’s the worst, right idiots?

One-third of Earth, Wind, and Fire left after the 2008 season, but the 2-headed monster of Jacobs and Bradshaw still combined for 1,600+ rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. This unit was top 10 in the NFL. No Plax? No problem! David Diehl, Shaun O’Hara, and Chris Snee all made the Pro Bowl.

The defense, though. Woooooooooof. Not great when Terrell Thomas leads the team in tackles. Osi had 7 sacks and 17 QB hits. Tuck had 13 QB hits, 6 sacks, and 10 TFL. Kiwi had 18 QB hits and 3 sacks. Feel familiar? Lots of hits, but not so many sacks. Antonio Pierce missed 7 games in what would be his final season as a Giant. Danny Clark and Michael Boley were meh. Our secondary was comprised of guys like Bruce Johnson, Aaron Rouse, and C.C. Brown. Kenny Phillips only played 2 games. This season’s performance was a major reason we brought in Antrel Rolle in free agency.

Words can’t describe how disappointing the 2008 season was. We were flattening the league, lost Plax, had homefield advantage then got shut down by the Iggles at home in the divisional round.

So, to start the ’09 season at 5-0, with each win coming decisively, it seemed like the team wasn’t suffering any side effects of getting sideswiped by Philly the previous January. Then came a 4-game slide that culminated with a last-minute loss to the Chargers at home THE DAY BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY. MY BIRTHDAY! This is 29? No thank you.

What done-did us in was the Week 14 loss to the Eagles, a wild game that saw 83 points put on the ‘board.

We finished out the season by getting boat-raced by the Panthers and Vikings.

The Falcons were 9-7 and lost to us in OT.

If the Bucs or Saints had any integrity, ATL would be 8-8 and we’d own the tiebreaker. The Niners were also 8-8, no head-to-head matchup, but they were 7-5 vs. the NFC and we went 6-6, so we’d lose that tiebreaker. Maybe if the Bears took care of biz in on Thursday Night Football, NYG locks down the 7 seed.

If the G-Men get in, it’d be 2 vs 7: The Eagles were the 6 seed and they had a 11-5 record. The NFC playoff field was STACKED. Minnesota was #2 and considering they were 1 pass away from the Super Bowl, safe to say, Big Blue would’ve been Big Blown Out yet again.

Rodney Hampton 1994 New York Giants

New York Giants running back Rodney Hampton

1994 New York Giants

Record: 9-7-0, 2nd in NFC East

Coach: Dan Reeves (9-7-0)

Points For: 279 (17.4/g) 22nd of 28

Points Against: 305 (19.1/g) 8th of 28

Expected W-L: 7.2-8.8

What a transformative time for not only the franchise, but for me. You see, two of my childhood idols — Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor — retired after the ’93 season. Technically, Simms was cut, but whatevs. Meanwhile, I’m becoming a man. Puberty kicked in the door, waving the .44. And all I heard was Bob Papa, don’t hit ’em no more.

Change can be scary, but for the first 3 games of ’94, change didn’t seem to disrupt the ship. In comes Dave Brown as the starter, Giants get off to a 3-0 start. Then comes a 7-game slump that saw four L’s by a touch or less. The most painful defeats came at the hands of Pittsburgh (L, 10-6), Arizona (L, 10-9), and Detroit (28-25 in OT). That loss to the Lions essentially cost us a trip to the posteason.

Alas, the tide turns, and we’re on the long end of the stick. We finish STRONG with a 6-game winning streak in which the average margin of victory was 3.8 points and 4 of those dubs were by 3 points or less.

On offense, Rodney Hampton was 3 yards and a cloud of dust, squeaking past the 1,000 yard mark. Ex-Bronco Mike Sherrard and his giraffe neck had 100+ targets. This would be Dave Meggett’s last season with NYG as he only managed 4.8 yards per touch – the worst of his career.

On defense, another Ex-Bronco, Michael Brooks, led the squad in tackles while Keith Hamilton and Erik Howard tied for the lead in sacks at 6.5. A very young Michael Strahan started 15 games.

Meanwhile, the Packers, Bears, and Lions all made the playoffs at 9-7. Packers had the 4 seed, Lions at 5, Bears 6. Giants would have the 7 seed outright.

If the G-Men get in, it’d be 2 vs 7: The Cowboys had the 2 seed. We actually split the regular season series, winning the season finale.

Of course, Dallas was resting their starters. Emmitt Smith didn’t play and Aikman played half the snaps. Still, facing them again the very next week, you’d have to think the momentum would be on our side.

The Vikings (3) ended up losing to the Bears (3) and the Packers (4) edged the Lions (5), so we would’ve faced the eventual Super Bowl Champion Niners in San Fran while da Bears visit Lambeau. We would’ve been obliterated just like we’d been the year before.

Victor Cruz 2012 New York Giants

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz

2012 New York Giants

Record: 9-7-0, 2nd in NFC East

Coach: Tom Coughlin (9-7-0)

Points For: 429 (26.8/g) 6th of 32

Points Against: 344 (21.5/g) 12th of 32

Expected W-L: 10.0-6.0

Other than ’08, the Giants haven’t been able to get back to the playoffs after a Super Bowl appearance. We somehow someway won the 2011 Super Bowl after going 9-7 in the regular season. We go 9-7 again the next season and don’t even get the chance to repeat. What a world.

Would you believe me if I told you we started the ’12 season 6-2? That was Tom Coughlin’s trademark. Hot start gone ice cold in the second half. Two games really stick out to me: The 2-point loss in Week 4 to the Eagles…

and the 1-point defeat to the ‘Skins in Week 13.

Eli came oh so close to eclipsing 4k yards through the air on his way to tossing 26 touchdowns and leading 3 game-winning drives in the 4th quarter.

Jacobs left to San Fran in free agency, leaving Ahmad Bradshaw to pick up the slack. AB rushed for 1,000+ yards but missed 4 starts. Andre Brown had a nose for the goal line and rookie David Wilson was a breath of fresh air, specifically on kick returns.

Victor Cruz proved he wasn’t a one-year wonder, topping 1k yards receiving and making the Pro Bowl roster. Hakeem Nicks missed a few games to injury, but Domenik Hixon and the Black Unicorn Martellus Bennett helped out. In short, the offense wasn’t a powerhouse but damn were they efficient, ranking third in the NFL in points per drive.

On D, 2011 savior Chase Blackburn returned to lead the team in total tackles while forcing 4 fumbles, notching 3 sacks, and stealing a pick. Strong safety Stevie Brown had 8 goddamn interceptions in what could be the biggest anomaly in franchise history. He also tied for the team lead in passes defended, tied with Corey Webster.

Osi led the unit with 11 QB hits, JPP had 10 and Tuck had 9. Still, those 3 exceptional pass rushers couldn’t crack 7 individual sacks.

The Bears went 10-6, so they’d get the 7 bid, but fuck I can dream, can’t I? Chicago had a 1-point win against the Panthers in Week 8 and the 2-point dub over Motown in the season finale. If the Bears lose one of those games and go 9-7, their conference record would’ve been 6-6. Giants were 8-4 as it was and could’ve very easily been 10-2. Considering the ‘Skins won the division at 10-6, if the Giants got that December win in DC, they sweep the series and nab the division title.

If the G-Men get in: 

Scenario 1 – Giants win division and get the 4 seed, face the Seahawks at MetLife. I don’t know that the Giants or anyone else for that matter had an answer for Russell WIlson and The Legion of Boom. IRL, Seattle went into Murdaland and bested the ‘Skins by 10, mostly due to RGIII basically ending his career.

Scenario 2 – Giants leapfrog da Bears and get the 7 seed, face the Niners in San Fran. We beat the Niners 26-3 in October but that was with Alex Smith at the helm.

Who knows how we fare against Colin Kaepernick. Seeing how he tore up the league in the playoffs, we probably wouldn’t come out on top.

Either way, I’d pay good money to see each of those alternate realities. I mean, people thought we’d exit stage left early in ’07 and ’11. *eyebrow raise*

Lawrence Taylor 1988 New York Giants

New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor

1988 New York Giants

Record: 10-6-0, 2nd in NFC East

Coach: Bill Parcells (10-6-0)

Points For: 359 (22.4/g) 8th of 28

Points Against: 304 (19.0/g) 9th of 28

Expected W-L: 9.6-6.4

The ’87 strike put a real damper on the Giants’ quest to repeat as World Champs. While that campaign took the wind of our sails, ’88 was just as deflating, if not more.

After week 10, Big Blue was 7-3, having just completed a sweep of the the Cowboys. We’d also swept the ‘Skins.

But, the Eagles were a problem. This was the year Randall Cunningham went all Superman on Carl Banks on Monday Night Football in the first battle…

…then we block Luis Zendejas game-winning FG attempt in overtime and Clyde Simmons scoops it up and scores the game-ending TD.

We also had 4 wins of 3 points or less, so there’s that.

Phil Simms had a decent year, accumulating a 83.1 QB rating and throwing 21 TDs but was sacked 53 freaking times.

Joe Morris led the team in rushing, surpassing 1k yards, but it would be his last in a Giants uni. Ottis Anderson was a beast at the goal line while Lionel Manuel led all receivers with 1k yards and averaged almost 16 yards a reception. Stephen Baker was, indeed, a touchdown maker, notching 7 scores.

LT had 15.5 sacks in only 12 games (missing the first four to a substance abuse suspension) on his way to First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. The BBWC was a top 10 unit against the run.

If the G-Men get in: 

Since Big Blue beat the ‘aints head-to-head, the Giants would’ve actually secured the 6 seed and Nawlins would’ve locked the 7.

That would’ve meant the Saints went marching west to San Fran to take on the eventual Super Bowl champion Niners (who dismantled the Vikings and Bears IRL). The Giants would’ve squared up against… you guessed it… the motherfucking Eagles, man. Third time’s a charm? Prob not.

Justin Tuck 2010 giants

New York Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck

2010 New York Giants

Record: 10-6-0, 2nd in NFC East

Coach: Tom Coughlin (10-6-0)

Points For: 394 (24.6/g) 7th of 32

Points Against: 347 (21.7/g) 17th of 32

Expected W-L: 9.2-6.8

Woo boy. What could’ve been for Tom Coughlin’s Giants from 2007-2012. Call me Gordon Gekko, but greed is good. Yeah, we got 2 Lombardis, but it could’ve been 3 or even 4. The ball bounces a different way and we could’ve been looking at six straight trips to the postseason. We started off 1-2, but then rattled off 5 consecutive wins. Here we are again. 6-2. Then we got TORCHED by Jon frickin’ Kitna. Then… well… I can’t even write it out. MATM2.

That’s what did in the Giants. They ended up with the same overall record as the Eagles but went 3-3 in the division to Philly’s 4-2, thanks to getting swept by the Birds. Big Blue finished 7th behind Green Bay based on “strength of victory” but really it was the head-to-head tiebreaker when Big Blue lost to the Pack in Week 16.

Eli chucked for 4k yards and 31 TDs! Jet Blue was on the warpath yet again until Steve Smith went down with what became a career-ending injury. Nicks topped 1k yards and Manningham came damn close. Even Kevin Boss averaged 15.5 yards per touch. Bradshaw and Jacobs combined for 2k rushing yards and 17 TDs.

On the other side of the ball, Terrell Thomas led the team with 5 INTs and 21 passes defended. TWENTY ONE. He also forced 4 fumbles and led the team in total tackles. Tuck and Osi each notched 20+ QB hits and 11.5 sacks. Of course, a shit ton of those came in that slaughter of the Bears.

But, don’t worry Chitown, you paid us back in full with by losing to the Cheeseheads Week 17, guaranteeing Big Blue’s elimination from postseason contention.

The Bucs also went 10-6 with a 8-4 conference record, same as the Giants. Let’s pop open the rule book:

Head-to-head, if applicable. NOPE
Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference. SAME
Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four. SAME?

Strength of victory.
Strength of schedule.

According to PFR, Giants have the edge, so we’ll go with that.

GIANTS — Simple Rating System: 2.11 (12th of 32), Strength Of Schedule: -0.83

BUCS — SRS: -0.58 (17th of 32), SOS: -2.02

If the G-Men get in: 


Packers got the 6 seed, Eagles secured #3. GB went to PHI and won. Have to assume they do the same in this dreamy fantasy. If Giants are in at 7, they face HELL YES, the Bears. We probably cut up Cutty yet again, this time in front of all his faithful. The 7-9 Seahawks Beast Quake the Saints at home.


Giants would travel to Hotlanta to tangle with a Falcons team that won 9 of their last 10 regular season contests. ATL had a stiff run D, but was vulnerable against the pass. Methinks Jet Blue puts on a show and we get the win.

Green Bay would have to go to… Seattle! And Green Bay usually doesn’t fare well against the ‘Hawks in the great state of Washington. Tough to say who comes out on top. IRL, the Seahawks lost by double digits to the Bears in the Windy City. But, Seattle was 5-3 at home.


Either way the Giants hit the road to face the … no… wait a second. The Seahawks were 7-9. No shot a 7-9 team goes to the goddamn NFC Championship. It’s New York at Green Bay. Giants at Packers. And the Packers most likely light up the Giants just as they did in the regular season. BUT… the 2007 Packers also lit up the Giants in the regular season…. and the 2011 Packers also beat the G-men in the regs. So…


Giants vs….

Well, the San Diego Chargers would’ve clinched the 7 seed with a 9-7 record.

6 Jets at 3 Colts – Jets jettisoned the Colts

5 Ravens at 4 Chiefs – Ravens ravished the Chiefs

7 Chargers at 2 Steelers …

Don’t sleep on the Chargers. PFR’s Simple Rating System had them as the 7th best team in the league with an expected W-L of 11-5. It would’ve been top 2 offense led by Philip Rivers, Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates, and Darren Sproles against a top 2 defense powered by Troy Polamalu and James Harrison. Wow. I’d like to see this game. They didn’t face each other in the regular season. I’d have to give the edge to Pittsburgh, though.

6 Jets at 1 Pats – Rex Ryan’s Foot Clan stunned Brady + Belichick on their home turf. CAN’T WAIT.

5 Ravens at 2 Steelers – I don’t think there’s a better rivalry in sports over the past 15 years than this. PITT wins IRL.

6 Jets at 2 Steelers – Black and Yellow. Black and Yellow. Black and Yellow.

Giants vs Steelers? At the time, Eli Manning was a superhuman in Cowboys Stadium.

I think it’s close. REAL close. Too close to call? Nah, Giants win on a Lawrence Tynes field goal at the buzzer.

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