Credit: Contributed

It doesn’t matter how a team clinches its playoff spot as long as they get in. Ideally, the Giants would have celebrated their first postseason berth since the 2011 by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday on the road.

A win over the Eagles would have cemented the 10-5 Giants’ wild card spot by their own hands and seemingly been more gratifying than having their place secured by virtue of another team’s loss. But the Giants fell to the Eagles 24-19 and two days later watched the now 8-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were battling to stay in the wild card race, tumble in a 31-24 defeat to the New Orleans Saints.

Nevertheless, Giants’ rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard shared the collective sentiments of players and coaches alike. “I’ve been talking to a lot of the guys who have been around here for a while, and they were just telling me it’s a blessing [to be in the playoffs],” Shepard said earlier this week at the Giants’ facilities in New Jersey. “A lot of guys don’t get this chance, so for it to be my first year and get in here and get to get into the playoffs, it’s a blessing.”

The Giants will be the No. 5 seed entering the NFL playoffs, which begin Saturday, Jan. 7. Their first round opponent will not be determined until the conclusion of this weekend’s games, the last slate of games of the 2016 regular season. What is certain is that the Giants will not face the Dallas Cowboys, the National Football Conference’s East division champion, to open the playoffs.

The 13-2 Cowboys, whose only loses have been to the Giants, have clinched the NFC’s No.1 seed, a first-round bye and home field advantage through the conference championship. However, the No. 2, 3 and 4 seeds have yet to be established. The 10-5 Atlanta Falcons (NFC South) and the 9-5 Seattle Seahawks (NFC West) have won their respective divisions and are guaranteed an invitation to the tournament.

The winner of this Saturday’s game between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, both 9-6, will gain a spot in the postseason as the NFC North champion. The No. 6 seed, which is the last remaining wild card opening, will be filled by either Washington, the Lions or the Buccaneers. A victory by Washington on their home field over the Giants on New Year’s Day assures them of the No. 6 slot.