Qualifying for the playoffs in the NFL usually comes down to one or two games in the standings. In many cases, it's not how many games you win, but which games you win. There are tiebreakers that go past head-to-head record, such as division and conference records and the record vs common opponents.
In general, the objective is to win your division to avoid the mad scramble for the wild card spots. Last year, the Washington Redskins (9-7) won the NFC East and were the division's lone entrant in the postseason. The Giants finished at 6-10 but could have challenged had they been able to hold on to a few of the five fourth quarter leads they squandered in 2015.
The most frustrating part of the Giants' late game collapses is that they lost those leads with less than two minutes remaining in the game. That is not taking into account the Week 15 game vs Carolina, in which they came back from a 28-point deficit to tie the undefeated Panthers only to lose on a last-second field goal.
Only two of the Giants' losses were by more than six points. That, in the business world is called "correctable". The operation was competitive but simply did not have proper personnel to complete tasks to the fullest.
The culprit, of course, were injuries, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Theie safeties were wiped out before the season even started. They lost their playcaller and captain, MLB Jon Beason, in first month and only had DLs Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins for a half-season each, and not at the same time.
The offense was successful in going out and getting leads, but sputtered in the fourth quarter when it came to sustaining drives. The running game could not grind out first downs and keep the clock running.
The defense was so thin personnel-wise they needed the offense to stay on the field longer and were usually spent by the fourth quarter. The Giants went to great lengths to augment their defense with both star power and depth. The odds of them getting decimated by the amount of injuries suffered over the past few years are very slim. So, there's that.
Health on defense is the key to this season. If they can do that, they'll win ten games. The offense appears to be on the verge of a breakout, so the objective here is clear. Not only get leads and keep them, but win the games against their NFC East opponents.
They Giants have gone 10-14 against the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins the past four seasons. They have not has a winning record in the division since 2009, when they went 4-2.
Going 6-0 or 5-1 in the division is the best way to turn things around and get back to the playoffs. QB Eli Manning is right. This is a playoff team. All they need to do now is start playing like one.