Daniel Jones
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

The Giants cannot clinch a playoff berth this Sunday against the Lions. But it sure feels like it.

The difference between 8-2 and 7-3 is immense, according to The New York Times’ NFL playoff simulator. If the Giants beat Detroit, they are projected to have a 95% chance to qualify for the postseason. And if they lose? It drops to 80%. Which is still pretty good, of course. But given the Giants’ remaining schedule, it could be the beginning of a stretch run slide.

A simpler way to look at it: If the Giants beat the Lions, the path to wrapping up a likely playoff spot is straightforward. If they can get to 10 wins, they should be in. And all they need to do to get there is win two games out of three with the Colts and Commanders.

Split with Washington and beat Indiananpolis, and it’s a 97% playoff chance. Sweep the Commanders and it is 99%.

That is not a given, of course. Especially hours after Washington handed the Eagles their first loss. But beating the Lions would give the Giants a path to the playoffs that would not require them to beat the Cowboys, Eagles or Vikings on the way there. This surprise season would have a firewall installed.

The Jets also have a pivotal game this weekend at the Patriots. If they win, they will have an 85% chance to make the playoffs. But a loss will send their odds into freefall. If New England sweeps the season series, the Jets will have just a 57% chance to make the tournament.

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James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.