One of the key things to keep an eye on at the end of the NFL season is teams that are heading into the playoffs with momentum on their side. It often goes unnoticed, but there have been multiple times in recent years that we have seen momentum play a huge factor in making a run in the postseason.
The Packers just did it last year. They were 8-6 heading into Week 15. They finished the season 14-6 as Super Bowl Champions.
A few years back, the New York Giants rode momentum into the offseason and made a run to beat the undefeated Patriots. Before that, the Pittsburgh Steelers did the same thing after squeaking into the playoffs as a six seed.
Here are three teams that will get a momentum boost heading into the playoffs.
New York Giants
The playoffs for the Giants started last week. They had to beat the New York Jets to stay alive in the postseason hunt. This week, they have to beat the Dallas Cowboys to make the playoffs. The Giants will need all the momentum they can get.
Whoever wins the NFC East is expected to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. There aren't high hopes for the division this season. Then again, when the Giants made the run back in 2007, nobody thought they could do it either.
This game is all but in the bags for the Detroit Lions.
Who would benefit most from the momentum of a win?
It's pretty clear that the Green Bay Packers plan to rest the majority of their starters with nothing to gain in the final week of play. It could be a move that comes back to haunt them.
Not only would the win give the Lions some momentum heading into the playoffs, it could give them the confidence needed if the two teams would meet again. That would be the case only if both advance to the NFC Championship Game.
The Ravens have already clinched a playoff berth, but there is a lot riding on the game this weekend between them and the Bengals. The Bengals are battling for a spot as the final wild card team in the AFC. The Ravens are playing for a first-round bye and to keep their division rivals from making postseason play.
The Ravens are already one of the favorites in the AFC to make it to the Super Bowl. If they can get a big win against a division rival, it would do huge things for the team's confidence. A week off to rest and confidence could be all the Ravens need to be the premier team in the AFC.