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NFC Playoff Primer: Giants head topsy-turvy group


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By Albert Breer - SportingNews 12 hours, 40 minutes ago

If there’s a smoking gun to prove just how wacky 2008 has been, it’d probably be the NFC’s playoff picture. All four 2007 division champions are setting up tee times this morning. Only one of the six ‘08 playoff teams—the defending champion Giants—finished last year north of .500. Does that serve as a harbinger to a crazy January? Maybe. But it’s not as wide open as you might think:

1. NEW YORK GIANTS

Reasons to believe:

1. Momentum. The Giants go in playing well, with a pretty strong effort against the Vikings following up a big-boy performance to beat Carolina.

2. No weakness. The Giants might be built on their ability to run the ball and rush the passer, but this roster is devoid of glaring holes.

3. Experience. Eli Manning & Co. have been through this before.

Reasons to worry:

1. Receivers. If an opponent can take away Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward—no easy task—Manning would have to rely on average receivers.

2. Defensive depth. The defense has sustained a lot of attrition, and one more injury in the wrong spot could be a problem.

3. History. Repeating is tough.

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2. CAROLINA PANTHERS

Reasons to believe:

1. Running game. DeAngelo Williams has 100 yards, averaging 5 yards a carry, in seven of last nine games.

2. Trenches. Both lines are big and physical.

3. Steve Smith. Load up against the run, and he’ll burn you. Need a clutch play, he’s there for you.

Reasons to worry:

1. Jake Delhomme. Delhomme, with shaky accuracy and decisions, is as likely to blow a game as win one.

2. Meadowlands. They’re a different team on the road, and there’s a fair chance they’ll have to play in some pretty nasty conditions in North Jersey to reach Super Bowl 43.

3. No rally. This club is a bit of a schoolyard bully, at their best with a lead but shoddy when playing from behind.

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Reasons to believe:

1. Adrian Peterson. No need to explain this one.

2. Williams Wall. Getting Pat Williams back would make it tough to run on them, critical to upsetting the Giants or Panthers.

3. Big-play Berrian. Bernard Berrian has added something to the offense and special teams.

Reasons to worry:

1. Tarvaris Jackson. He has been better of late, but there still are issues with consistency and game management.

2. Pass coverage. As Giants proved, the secondary can be attacked and the Eagles have the weapons to do it.

3. No rally. If the Vikings get behind, it’ll be curtains.

4. ARIZONA CARDINALS

Reasons to believe:

1. The leader. QB Kurt Warner has won the Super Bowl, a big deal when most of your club has no postseason experience.

2. Big plays. There’s explosive ability all over the place, with outstanding wide receivers and a defense that turns turnovers into touchdowns.

3. Good weather. As evidenced at New England, weather is a problem for these guys. A Round 2 trip to Charlotte, N.C., would be welcome.

Reasons to worry:

1. No run. Edgerrin James ran for 100 yards Sunday, but the running game is a problem.

2. No mojo. Take what you want from Sunday’s win over Seattle. The fact is this team has been bad last few weeks.

3. Run defense. The recent problems shedding blocks is a big concern with Michael Turner coming their way.

5. ATLANTA FALCONS

Reasons to believe:

1. Clutch plays. This team has found a way to win the tight ones, going 6-1 in games decided by less than a touchdown.

2. Play-action passes. Matt Ryan is unflappable and has an elite running game, making Atlanta tough to game plan.

3. Discipline. Coach Mike Smith has instilled strong game awareness in players, and it’s hard to see many of them blowing games.

Reasons to worry:

1. Defense. The defense ranks in the NFL’s bottom third. Even the Rams shredded them.

2. Rookie Ryan. It’s hard to say what might happen if Atlanta gets behind.

3. Few quality wins. The Falcons’ ascent has been impressive, but only two of the 11 wins came vs. playoff teams.

6. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Reasons to believe:

1. Experience. A good number of vets remain from the Super Bowl 39 team.

2. Donovan McNabb. In the five games since his benching, McNabb has a 9-to-1 TD/ interception ratio.

3. Defense. The defense has been even better, with the Eagles allowing just 40 points in December.

Reasons to worry:

1. Close games. The Eagles are just 1-5-1 in one-score games.

2. Game management. Philly is spotty in situation moments.

3. The road. The Eagles are 3-4-1 on the road, which isn’t good when you’re the No. 6 seed.

My only problem with that article is the quality wins.. We played 4 playoff teams, SD, PHI, CAR and MiN and we beat 3 of them. Arizona played NYG, PHI, CAR, MIA, MIN and only beat the Dolphins.

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Bah, the NFC is so closely knit that a lot of our wins can be reveled around. Especially breaking .500 with our division, that probably impressed me the most. I just knew the Bucs were going to sweep us again. And as you said, we played 4 playoff teams, won 3, and the other could've easily went our way at the end

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By Albert Breer - SportingNews 12 hours, 40 minutes ago

If there’s a smoking gun to prove just how wacky 2008 has been, it’d probably be the NFC’s playoff picture. All four 2007 division champions are setting up tee times this morning. Only one of the six ‘08 playoff teams—the defending champion Giants—finished last year north of .500. Does that serve as a harbinger to a crazy January? Maybe. But it’s not as wide open as you might think:

1. NEW YORK GIANTS

Reasons to believe:

1. Momentum. The Giants go in playing well, with a pretty strong effort against the Vikings following up a big-boy performance to beat Carolina.

2. No weakness. The Giants might be built on their ability to run the ball and rush the passer, but this roster is devoid of glaring holes.

3. Experience. Eli Manning & Co. have been through this before.

Reasons to worry:

1. Receivers. If an opponent can take away Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward—no easy task—Manning would have to rely on average receivers.

2. Defensive depth. The defense has sustained a lot of attrition, and one more injury in the wrong spot could be a problem.

3. History. Repeating is tough.

ADVERTISEMENT

2. CAROLINA PANTHERS

Reasons to believe:

1. Running game. DeAngelo Williams has 100 yards, averaging 5 yards a carry, in seven of last nine games.

2. Trenches. Both lines are big and physical.

3. Steve Smith. Load up against the run, and he’ll burn you. Need a clutch play, he’s there for you.

Reasons to worry:

1. Jake Delhomme. Delhomme, with shaky accuracy and decisions, is as likely to blow a game as win one.

2. Meadowlands. They’re a different team on the road, and there’s a fair chance they’ll have to play in some pretty nasty conditions in North Jersey to reach Super Bowl 43.

3. No rally. This club is a bit of a schoolyard bully, at their best with a lead but shoddy when playing from behind.

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Reasons to believe:

1. Adrian Peterson. No need to explain this one.

2. Williams Wall. Getting Pat Williams back would make it tough to run on them, critical to upsetting the Giants or Panthers.

3. Big-play Berrian. Bernard Berrian has added something to the offense and special teams.

Reasons to worry:

1. Tarvaris Jackson. He has been better of late, but there still are issues with consistency and game management.

2. Pass coverage. As Giants proved, the secondary can be attacked and the Eagles have the weapons to do it.

3. No rally. If the Vikings get behind, it’ll be curtains.

4. ARIZONA CARDINALS

Reasons to believe:

1. The leader. QB Kurt Warner has won the Super Bowl, a big deal when most of your club has no postseason experience.

2. Big plays. There’s explosive ability all over the place, with outstanding wide receivers and a defense that turns turnovers into touchdowns.

3. Good weather. As evidenced at New England, weather is a problem for these guys. A Round 2 trip to Charlotte, N.C., would be welcome.

Reasons to worry:

1. No run. Edgerrin James ran for 100 yards Sunday, but the running game is a problem.

2. No mojo. Take what you want from Sunday’s win over Seattle. The fact is this team has been bad last few weeks.

3. Run defense. The recent problems shedding blocks is a big concern with Michael Turner coming their way.

5. ATLANTA FALCONS

Reasons to believe:

1. Clutch plays. This team has found a way to win the tight ones, going 6-1 in games decided by less than a touchdown.

2. Play-action passes. Matt Ryan is unflappable and has an elite running game, making Atlanta tough to game plan.

3. Discipline. Coach Mike Smith has instilled strong game awareness in players, and it’s hard to see many of them blowing games.

Reasons to worry:

1. Defense. The defense ranks in the NFL’s bottom third. Even the Rams shredded them.

2. Rookie Ryan. It’s hard to say what might happen if Atlanta gets behind.

3. Few quality wins. The Falcons’ ascent has been impressive, but only two of the 11 wins came vs. playoff teams.

6. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Reasons to believe:

1. Experience. A good number of vets remain from the Super Bowl 39 team.

2. Donovan McNabb. In the five games since his benching, McNabb has a 9-to-1 TD/ interception ratio.

3. Defense. The defense has been even better, with the Eagles allowing just 40 points in December.

Reasons to worry:

1. Close games. The Eagles are just 1-5-1 in one-score games.

2. Game management. Philly is spotty in situation moments.

3. The road. The Eagles are 3-4-1 on the road, which isn’t good when you’re the No. 6 seed.

My only problem with that article is the quality wins.. We played 4 playoff teams, SD, PHI, CAR and MiN and we beat 3 of them. Arizona played NYG, PHI, CAR, MIA, MIN and only beat the Dolphins.

I really like number 3 under "reasons to believe". We have yet to be blown out really in any game this year. Last year it happened left and right, and plus even in yrs prior we got beat by teams that were bad. That hasn't happened this year.

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Email Albert Breer

My email to Breer:

The Falcons won three out of four games against play-off teams.

Only lost the Phillie game - bad call (muffed punt that was not touched).

Chicago might have been a play-off team if the Falcons had not beaten them.

Also the Falcons won in Greenbay when they were still a contender.

The Falcons trounced the beloved Panthers recently. Trounced San Diego.

They also play in the NFC's most difficult division.

They have been properly tested ... please do not cling to the anti-Falcon bias that prompted TSN's one-win prediction.

I probably just jinxed them with this email ... dammit.

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Since I'm waiting for something, I thought I'd delve into the playoff team comment.

Arizona - beat one playoff team this season, Miami, and it was a home game for them. 1-4 overall against playoff teams

Carolina - beat three playoff teams this season, ATL, ARI, and SD. 3-3 overall against playoff teams

Minnesota - beat three playoff teams this season, NYG, CAR, and ARI. 3-2 overall

New York - beat five playoff teams this season, PHI, CAR, PIT, BAL, and of course ARI. 5-2 overall

Philadelphia - beat four playoff teams this season, NYG, ARI, PIT, and ATL. 4-2 overall

Atlanta - beat three playoff teams this season, SD, CAR, and MIN. 3-2 overall

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Yea he did a terrible job on that quality win argument, we are 3-2 against playoff teams and another 2-1 against teams that were on the cusp of going to the playoffs, which brings the total record of 5-3, and ill definitely take that record against quality teams AND those 3 loses, one we got SHAFTED by the refs on and the other 2 were losses against divisional opponents EARLY in the season and on the road.

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Since I'm waiting for something, I thought I'd delve into the playoff team comment.

Arizona - beat one playoff team this season, Miami, and it was a home game for them. 1-4 overall against playoff teams

Carolina - beat three playoff teams this season, ATL, ARI, and SD. 3-3 overall against playoff teams

Minnesota - beat three playoff teams this season, NYG, CAR, and ARI. 3-2 overall

New York - beat five playoff teams this season, PHI, CAR, PIT, BAL, and of course ARI. 5-2 overall

Philadelphia - beat four playoff teams this season, NYG, ARI, PIT, and ATL. 4-2 overall

Atlanta - beat three playoff teams this season, SD, CAR, and MIN. 3-2 overall

Email this to Albert ... email in earlier reply.

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Let's not forget that not only have we beaten THREE playoff teams (as several posters mentioned above), we also beat Tampa Bay and Chicago - who both finished with winning records.

I believe we were 3-2 against playoff teams (with losses to Philly and Carolina) and 2-2 against teams with winning records (with losses to Denver and Tampa Bay).

That puts us at 5-4 against quality teams, with 2 of those wins coming on the road. We also beat Green Bay on the road when they still mattered, and went 1-1 with a decent New Orelans team.

Moreover, we have not lost any game by more than two scores all season, which shows that our defense has hung tough all season despite allowing a lot of yards.

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