At 0-4, history tells us getting to the NFL playoffs is still a possibility for the New York Giants. No team knows better than the Chargers.
As we get set to see if it will be the Los Angeles Chargers or New York Giants that gets their first win of the season at MetLife Stadium, there’s a lot of history hanging over the helmets of both squads.
First and foremost, there’s the fact that quarterbacks Eli Manning and Philip Rivers – two of those most productive players at their position in their careers – would not be with their current teams without the fact that their draft rights were dealt for each other a mere 13 years ago.
Now think of the numerical irony that is that the first two quarterbacks selected in the draft of ’04 are at the helm of teams both 0-4 this season? Of course, there are other facts and figures as well. Manning and Rivers (along with “Big” Ben Roethlisberger, the third quarterback drafted in 2004) can all be found in the NFL’s Top 20 in terms of passing yards and touchdown strikes.
But this is less about that tremendous trifecta and more about the chances of the New York Giants, as well as the Chargers, getting back into the playoff race.
A 0-4 start is quite the hole to dig. In the case of the Bolts, Anthony Lynn’s team already finds itself four games behind the first-place Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) in the AFC West. Two of Los Angeles’ losses have come at Denver and against the Chiefs. Given the way the Chargers have played within the division in recent seasons, they have quite the uphill climb.
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Also, we are well aware of the fact that both the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers are also sporting 0-4 records these days. With all due respect, those clubs would have to do something pretty dramatic to right their current ships.
But back to Ben McAdoo’s squad, which has transformed (in a very brief time) from a club that couldn’t find its offense to a team that can’t stop the opposition in the closing seconds of a game. In the first two weeks of the season, Big Blue totaled a combined 13 points in setbacks to the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions. These last two outings, the Eagles and Buccaneers each got field goals on the final play of the final play of the game to send New York to the basement of the NFC East.
And still, history tells us that the Giants can not only reach the postseason but win a division title as well. You just have to go back a few years – 25 of them, to be exact – to find the one and only time an NFL club rebounded from 0-4 to get to the playoffs. This was accomplished with a first-time NFL head coach and a free-agent quarterback in his first year with the team. Not only did this franchise rise from the ashes to finish in first place, it would go on to win a playoff game as well.
Yep, the year was 1992 and the team was the San Diego Chargers. They were led by head coach Bobby Ross who, two years after this accomplishment, led the Bolts to their first and only Super Bowl appearance. These Chargers would be outscored a combined 95-29 by the Chiefs, Broncos, Steelers and Houston Oilers during their winless start to the season. They would go on to win 11 of their final 12 contests, led by former Washington Redskins quarterback Stan Humphries. Their only loss in those final dozen games was to Kansas City. And as irony would have it, it was the Chiefs who the Chargers would knock off in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs. Ross and company had their season end a week later in the divisional round courtesy of a 31-0 loss at Miami.
So riddle me this: The New York Giants are one of those few teams that have won a Super Bowl following an 0-2 start. That came in 2007. Four years later, they did it with a 9-7 record and a team that allowed more points than it scored during the regular season. Elsewhere, we saw the New England Patriots overcome a 25-point deficit in the third quarter to capture Super Bowl LI. We consistently see teams unable to hold onto leads in this league. There have also been five occasions in the last four years that a 0-2 club ended up reaching the playoffs. The surprise factor is becoming less and less that in today’s NFL.
So are these New York Giants capable of mounting such a comeback? Who can really tell? Is it likely than McAdoo and Manning can resuscitate the team and get on a hot streak?
There’s been only a few signs of life, no matter how brief, to date. But is coming all the way back from 0-4 to reach the playoffs impossible?