Excerpt: "Once upon a time, the 11-2 Falcons would be considered the class of the NFC and the 8-5 Giants would be just another team battling for a playoff spot.
But that was before lower seeds started consistently breaking through to claim the Lombardi Trophy, including the past two years with the Packers and Giants going from wild-card weekend to Super Bowl champion. How you start the regular season is important, but how you finish it has become the predictor of postseason success.
“What has happened over the last two years with the Packers and Giants, both teams that got hot at the right time of year and got on a roll before the playoffs. Everyone is looking for that team,” said FOX analyst Daryl Johnston, who will be in the booth for Sunday’s showdown in Atlanta.
“Not the team with the best record, the one that’s playing the best football and will be able to carry that momentum into the postseason. ... That was the big thing last year: The Giants felt if they could knock off the Jets, knock off Dallas to make the playoffs, then they could play with anybody.”
No one can question the Giants’ Super Bowl credentials with two championships in the past five seasons, but they are far from a lock to be in the playoffs with a one-game lead over the Redskins and Cowboys in the NFC East. For the second straight year that division may only send one team to the postseason, and you could not blame the rest of the NFC if they were quietly rooting for the Falcons to clear the path for Dallas and Washington.
“If they can string some wins together going into the postseason everyone is going to look at New York as that scary team that’s gotten on a roll again, and we know what they’ve done in the past,” Johnston said." Read more...