The Giants put together their most complete game of the season, dominating the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 in the first round of the NFC Playoffs. Eli Manning threw for three touchdowns, two to Hakeem Nicks, and the Giants’ rushing attack had a season best 172 yards.
But the true star of the game was the defense. A laughing stock for most of the season, the Giants pitched a shutout, with the Falcons’ only score being a safety when Manning was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. The defensive line had two sacks, but pressured Matt Ryan constantly. Michael Turner ran for just 41 yards for the Falcons. And Ryan was stopped twice on fourth and 1, both times on a QB sneak.
Now the Giants head out to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field for a rematch with the Green Bay Packers. The two teams met in Week 13, with the Packers pulling out a 38-35 win on a last second field goal by Mason Crosby. The Packers were without two linebackers, while the Giants were without Osi Umenyiora, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Mario Manningham.
It’s also a rematch of the 2008 NFC Championship Game, when the Giants ended Brett Favre’s career in Green Bay with a 23-20 overtime win en route to a Super Bowl title.
The Giants are definitely peaking at the right time, like they did in 2007 and the Packers did last year. It should be a great game.
The Dallas Cowboys’s victory against the New Orleans Saints last night made the New York Giants’ playoff chances a lot murkier. Fortunately, we were aided by a last-second comeback by the Pittsburgh Steelers, which beat the Green Bay Packers 37-36 this afternoon.
For the Giants to make the playoffs, they need to win out and also need Dallas or Green Bay to lose at least one of their last two games. Dallas finishes with against the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, while Green Bay faces the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. If both Dallas and Philadelphia win next week, their Week 17 game will be for the division. God, it would be so hard to root for the Eagles in that event. The Packers are probably gonna roll over the Seahawks. The Cardinals are two games behind in the race for a first-round bye, so it’s conceivable that they won’t have anything to play for in Week 17. So you need to expect that the Packers will win their last two games.
As for the Giants, they need to beat Washington tomorrow night, then Carolina on Dec. 27 in their Giants Stadium finale. Carolina spanked the Minnesota Vikings tonight, so that won’t be as easy of a task as we may have recently thought. Finally, the Giants travel to Minnesota in Week 17.
For a while, Giants fans felt that last game would be winnable, since the Vikings were two games behind the Saints for home field advantage, and two games ahead of the Eagles in the race for a first-round bye. The the Saints lost. Suddenly, it looked like the Vikings could be playing for home field advantage in Week 17. Not good. Then the Vikings lost to the Panthers. There hopes for home field are again pretty bleak, but now they’re just one game ahead of the Eagles (and Philadelphia would have the tiebreaker). So now the Vikings could be playing in Week 17 for a first round bye.
So this is the ideal scenario in the first two weeks + one game. I used Yahoo’s Playoff Generator to make this. You can follow this link to see the scenario and how exactly it would play out. For those who don’t want to click it, here’s what we want:
1. The Giants beat Washington tomorrow night (Considering it’s 12:10am around here right now, I guess it should actually read “tonight”).
2. The Giants beat Carolina on Dec. 27.
3. On Dec. 27, the Denver Broncos win at Philadelphia and the Saints win at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the Vikings beat the Chicago Bears on Dec. 28. This would clinch home-field advantage for the Saints, and a first-round bye for the Vikings. In this scenario, the Vikings would then have nothing to play for in Week 17.
4. The Giants beat the Vikings on Jan.3.
5. Either the Eagles beat the Cowboys, or the Cardinals beat the Packers. If the Eagles and Packers both win, the Giants get the sixth seed and play the Eagles in the first round. If the Packers lose and the Cowboys win, the Giants get the sixth seed and play the Cardinals. If the Eagles win and the Packers lose, the Giants would actually get the fifth seed and play the Cardinals.
Of course, if the Giants LOSE to the Redskins, things get much worse. The Giants would then have to win their last two games, and either Dallas or Green Bay would have to lose their last two games. No, not both teams would have to lose a game, either Dallas or Green Bay would have to lose out. I guess considering Dallas’s history in December (although the Cowboys’ performance in the Superdome on Saturday night changes that reputation), that’s not completely far-fetched.
That being said, I and predicting the following:
1. Giants lose to Washington, beat Carolina, lose to Minnesota. They finish 8-8, season over.
2. Philadelphia beats Denver, New Orleans beats Tampa Bay, Minnesota beats the Bears. Minnesota needs one more win to clinch a bye, so the starters play against the Giants (which is why they win).
3. Arizona beats the Packers, and the Cowboys beat the Eagles. Dallas wins the division and gets the 4th seed, and play 5th-seeded Philadelphia in the first round. Green Bay plays Arizona in the other first round game.
I hope I’m wrong. I just don’t think I am.
By the way, I’m going to the Carolina game, so I’ll post pictures. I wish my good camera was working (the viewscreen seems to have died, so instead I’ve be using the camera with the crappy zoom.