By Steve Silverman
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The Giants began their run to the Super Bowl last year with a 29-14 win over the Jets in Week 16.
It was a game that imbued the team with the confidence to rise from the ranks of a lowly 9-7 division winner and allowed them to gather momentum and beat the best teams in the NFC in the playoffs.
You remember how they nailed the Falcons, took apart the Packers and outlasted the 49ers in a show of guts to earn a spot in Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots, whom they defeated in stirring fashion once again.
There was no Week 16 magic this time around. The Giants had it all there in front of them against the Baltimore Ravens, a team that had lost three games in a row and were in deep trouble. Instead of punishing the Ravens, the Giants served as get-well medicine for Baltimore. The Ravens looked as good as they have all year.
The Giants have basically blown it. They are not mathematically eliminated. If they can beat the Eagles, while the Bears lose to the Lions, the Vikings lose to the Packers and the Cowboys lose to the Redskins, the Giants can still get into the playoffs.
None of those results are improbable, although the Bears will be favored against the Lions. Still, all of those events seem unlikely to happen on the same day.
But the Giants’ run last year started in the next to last game of the season, and it seems that is as good a time as any for serious Super Bowl contenders to start asserting themselves.
If that’s the case again this year, look out for the Seattle Seahawks and the Packers in the NFC. Both of those teams played their best football of the season and have a chance to be formidable in the NFC playoffs.
For the Packers, it’s almost as if they followed the same gameplan that the Giants used a year ago. Green Bay struggled early in the season as they appeared to be hung over after going 15-1 and then getting hammered 37-20 in the divisional playoffs.
They were 2-3 and struggling. They could not run the ball, the defense was shoddy and Aaron Rodgers was not the same quarterback he had been. But the Packers slowly began to get better after that.
The first and most important thing that happened was the improvement of Rodgers. He got his sea legs and returned to form. He is once again an MVP candidate based on his ability to throw the ball accurately and his talent at buying time in the pocket. Simply magical.
The defense started to play better and when linebacker Clay Matthews returned from a hamstring injury, the Packers had a ferocious factor.
They have now won 9-of-10 games, and the only loss was a one-sided blowout suffered at the hands of the Giants. Their Week 16 victory was a 55-7 destruction of the Tennessee Titans.
The Seahawks are downright scary. The rookie of the year was supposed to be Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but Russell Wilson may be the most deserving. He is putting monster numbers on the board that are basically shocking.
He was not a high first-round pick or even a second-round pick. Wilson came in the third round and he has completed 63.4 percent of his passes, he has thrown for 2,868 yards and he has a 25-10 TD to interception ratio. Wilson has also rushed for 431 yards and has a 5.1 yards per carry average.
He is a remarkable player who has gotten better each week. The Seahawks have scored 58, 50 and 42 points the last three weeks.
They have a ferocious defense that shut down the 49ers 42-13 in Week 16. It appears there is no stopping them at this point.
But that’s only you subscribe to the Week 16 theory that worked so well for the Giants last year.
It may very well be the way to go again this year in the NFC.
How do you think the NFC Wild Card picture will finish? Sound off below…