The New York Giants should be the favorite to be crowned Super Bowl champions once again. The Giants are coming off their second Super Bowl in the last five seasons and seem to be rolling right now. They're coming off a dismantling of the 49ers, the previous favorite in the NFC, and a last-minute comeback against RGIII and the Washington Redskins.
While the Redskins game may not seem to be that impressive, it really was. The Giants should have won the game with ease, but rookie sensation Robert Griffin III had other other plans. He created headaches for the Giants d-line with his pocket presence and his ability to break containment, highlighted by his impressive 4th-and-10 conversion in the fourth quarter.
When RG3 connected with Santana Moss for a 30-yard touchdown pass with 1:32 remaining, most fans would have hid their heads in their jerseys. Not Giants fans.
"With our offense, and Eli at the helm, we're never too worried." said Victor Cruz.
Giant fans can sure agree with that, as they have seen time and time again why Eli Manning is an elite and clutch quarterback in this league. Eli connected with Cruz on a 77-yard touchdown pass that helped give the G-men the lead. The defense then backed him up by forcing a Moss fumble to end the game and help cement the Giants as one of the NFC's best.
Now, with all this said, the Atlanta Falcons are still 6-0 and remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL. This could easily make them the front-runner of the NFC, but I think otherwise.
The Giants have been battle-tested by the 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys and even the Redskins. While the teams other than the Niners may not scare most, they are division games that are always tougher than most.
The Falcons have not been tested by some of the better teams in the league; rather, they have been tested by some of the lower teams in the league. The Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos. It took last minute come-from-behind drives by Matty Ice to help keep the perfect season alive against the Panthers and Raiders, two of the worst teams in the league.
While most will argue the Raiders are better than their record, the Falcons should not have struggled against them. They also should not have allowed 24 points to a Kansas City team that is now 1-5.
The Broncos were not a team that was really set in yet when the Falcons beat them. Shoot, they almost blew that game too, thanks to Peyton Manning. But even that game shouldn't have gotten to where it was. The defense once again let them down.
That's the thing that sets the Giants apart from the Falcons. Defense.
Teams may have started to figure out how to handle Atlanta. Look at its last three games.
- 23-20 win over Oakland
- 24-17 win over Washington
- 30-28 win over Carolina
If it wasn't for Matt Ryan, the Falcons could easily be 3-3. He has given them the lead in many games only to see his defense let him down. While in the Giants' case, the defense falters early and Eli picks them up while the defense regroups and gets better as the game goes on.
Both teams are almost equal in the takeaway categories (ATL-7, NYG-9) and yards allowed per game (ATL- 367.2, NYG-379.7). The Giants may have given up more points on the season than the Falcons, but in my opinion, the Giants are the better defensive team. They have that bend but don't break mentality.
The Giants have also suffered numerous amounts of injuries and overcame them.
Terrell Thomas, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Phillips, Andre Brown, Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Canty have all missed time this year. And what happened? Guys stepped up. The mantra "Next guy up" has been used many times this season. The Giants are a band of teammates that fill in for each other, that never back down and that are in every game.
The Falcons, on the other hand, have not suffered any injuries to any starters other than Chris Peters.
I want to see how the Falcons would do against the 49ers in San Francisco. They have yet to prove much to me. Matt Ryan is a stud without a doubt, as well as Julio Jones and Roddy White. Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez are no slouches themselves. But I just don't see this team running through the NFC. Outside of Carolina and Washington, it has feasted on the weak AFC West (in my opinion).
The next six games for both teams will be major tests. The Falcons have to go to New Orleans (who seem to be clicking now), Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, with home games against New Orleans, Dallas and Arizona. The Giants will travel to Dallas, Cincinnati and Washington, but have home games against Pittsburgh, Green Bay and New Orleans.
This stretch will definitely be a test to who is the better team.
The Giants also have a leader in Tom Coughlin who has been there and done that. He knows how to rally his team and will continue to be the fire that ignites the Giants.
I feel the Giants are better suited for these tests. They have shown how to persevere under pressure and have shown they have what it takes in the playoffs. Matty Ice and the Falcons have not done the latter. When the competition gets fierce and the tough, hard-nosed football games arise, will the Falcons stand tall?
I know the Giants have and will continue to do so. That's why they should be the favorites to come out of the NFC.