Danielle Parhizkaran | NorthJersey.com

The Giants’ playoff outlook is pretty straightforward with six games to go.

Barring something unforeseen, there are three teams vying for two spots. And the loser of Sunday’s game against the Commanders at MetLife Stadium will be behind the eight ball the rest of the way. So yes, the postseason will for all intents and purposes begin in early December.

The NFC playoff picture after Week 12:

1-Eagles 10-1 (E)
2-Vikings 9-2 (N)
3-49ers 7-4 (W)
4-Buccaneers 5-6 (S)
5-Cowboys 8-3
6-Giants 7-4
7-Commanders 7-4

8-Seahawks 6-5
9-Falcons 5-7
10-Lions 4-7

The Cowboys have a game on the Giants and own the tiebreaker. That ship has sailed.   The Seahawks are a game back, but they also own the tiebreaker. So consider that a tie. The Lions have the tiebreaker too, but it’s hard to imagine they will be a serious factor down the stretch. And the Falcons are a division or bust team. So this will all likely hinge on what the Giants do against Washington. And how they compare to the Commanders.

Making Sunday’s game even more important: Washington currently has the edge in the divisional record (1-2 to 0-2) and conference record (4-4 to 3-4) tiebreakers.

If there is one saving grace for the Giants, it is the Commanders’ remaining schedule is as challenging as theirs. They still have to play the Cowboys again and the 49ers on the road. They also have an “easy” game against the Browns when Deshaun Watson will have some games under his belt. So there could — and likely will — be plenty of twists and turns to go. But the ride will not be as wild if the Giants take care of business when they can.

If the Giants lose on Sunday, their season will not be over. But they will be in bad shape. This is about as close to a must-win as it gets.

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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]

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.