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 Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul underwent sports hernia surgery early this morning, and is expected to be out six weeks. That means Pierre-Paul could return for the conference championship, but the Giants’ chances of making it that far without him in the lineup are pretty grim.

Pierre-Paul injured his groin during Sunday’s loss to the Steelers and left the game in the second quarter. The Giants were hopeful that surgery wouldn’t be needed, but on Tuesday JPP visited sports hernia expert Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia, and this morning posted this photo to Instagram:

It had been a hugely successful comeback season for Pierre-Paul, who missed most of last year after a fireworks accident and inked a one-year contract (it’ll amount to $9.7 million now that he won’t receive any more game bonuses) to prove he was still effective before seeking a big contract on the open market next offseason.

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In 12 games, he recorded 53 tackles, seven sacks, and three forced fumbles, and along with Olivier Vernon on the other side of the front four, helped revitalize a Giants defense that has carried it when the offense can’t. Pierre-Paul’s strength, in this, his age-27 season, has been against the run, and the Giants are sorely going to miss him this Sunday night against Dallas. It was in New York’s Week 1 win over the Cowboys that JPP helped hold Ezekiel Elliott to 51 rushing yards, still the lowest total of his young NFL career.

The Giants are three games back in the NFC East, but at 8-4, are probably going to have to win two of their final four games just to make the playoffs. They’ve got the Cowboys and Lions at home, then hit the road to Philadelphia and Washington. They’ve shown a knack for beating crummy teams and struggling against good ones, so it’s probably going to be a close-run thing. It’s not inconceivable that Pierre-Paul’s absence is the difference.