There are two season openers for the New York Giants.
The official one was played Sept. 5 against the Dallas Cowboys.
The real one takes place Sunday against the host Baltimore Ravens in the FOX America's Game of the Week (4:25 p.m. ET).
New York's first 14 contests? The Giants (8-6) won just enough to remain in the playoff hunt but not enough to clinch a postseason berth as three other NFC clubs have already.
To join them, New York will probably have to win its remaining games against the Ravens (9-5) and Dec. 30 against visiting Philadelphia (4-10). Doing so would guarantee at least a wild-card berth, as Washington (8-6) or Dallas (8-6) would capture the NFC East by winning out.
New York faced similar desperation in two of the past five Decembers. The 2007 and 2011 Giants responded by ultimately winning Super Bowl titles.
For a member of both those squads, a championship is the only thing that can justify New York's erratic performance through much of the 2012 campaign.