The New York Giants enter the second half of the season with a 6-2 record, having won four straight games. They hold a commanding 2.5-game lead over both the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.
Everything seems to be going Big Blue's way, but as diehard Giants fans have learned in the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning era the last eight games of the regular season can be cruel. The Giants are a putrid 27-36 in the last half of the regular season since 2004. Will they be able to turn recent history on its ear and put together a solid second half? Let's find out.
It's always a lesson in NFL history when these two teams meet. The Mara family, who own the Giants, and the Rooney family, who own the Steelers, have been intertwined since the 1920s. Actresses Kate and Rooney Mara have ties to both families through the original owners of each team, Timothy Mara and Art Rooney.
On the field this should be a close game, but I have to give the edge to the Giants. Pittsburgh has been awful on the road this season with a 1-3 record, and despite some close games against subpar teams, New York does have a 3-1 record a MetLife Stadium.
Prediction: Giants 24, Pittsburgh 20
The Bengals are a below-average team with a 3-4 record. Their defense isn't particularly strong (they are 18th in the NFL in total yards allowed and they give up 26.7 points per game), and they don't light the league up on offense (18th in total yards and they score 23.7 points per game).
Simply put, the Giants should methodically beat the Bengals by seven to 10 points. At 7-2, though, I see Big Blue letting up in this game and allowing Cincinnati to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Bengals 27, Giants 24
After a loss to the Bengals and a bye in Week 11, the Giants should be rested and ready for this game. The comments by Clay Matthews back in training camp that the Giants were lucky to win the divisional playoff game in Green Bay last January likely will provide bulletin-board material and further motivation.
The defense will have trouble containing Aaron Rodgers, who is still the best quarterback in the NFL despite Eli Manning's recent accomplishments.
On the contrary, Manning should cut up the Packers secondary. The Packers have been better against the pass this year compared to 2011, but they are still susceptible to being exposed by a big-time air attack. This was apparent when Drew Brees threw for 446 yards against them in Week 4.
Prediction: Giants 38, Packers 28
Despite the loss, the Redskins proved that they can run the ball against New York with 248 yards rushing while also slowing down the Giants' ground attack. Ahmad Bradshaw and Co. only managed 64 yards on 19 carries in the game.
This will be another close game, but I think the Giants win again by making some adjustments in their defensive scheme against the Redskins. Expect a lot of seven- and eight-man boxes with a spy watching Robert Griffin III. This will force the rookie to throw the ball to a subpar group of wide receivers.
Prediction: Giants 30, Redskins 17
They have an awful defense (they entered the Broncos game allowing a league-worst 465.5 yards per game), no head coach and even their fans have been consumed by the Bountygate scandal.
The Giants should win this game going away, but they never make it easy do they? They've trailed 27-13 to the Bucs, 14-0 to the Browns and 23-20 late in the fourth quarter to the Redskins at home this season.
Expect the Saints to jump out to an early lead only to watch the Giants claw their way back and win another close home game against an inferior opponent.
Prediction: Giants 31, Saints 30
This game could be a battle for the top seed in the NFC if the 7-0 Falcons lose a few times in the coming weeks.
Despite their perfect 3-0 home record, the Falcons have been anything but dominant in their friendly confines. They have outscored their opponents in Atlanta this season, 80-69, and two of those wins were against the 1-6 Panthers and 3-4 Raiders.
Also, history is on the Giants' side in this game. Big Blue has won their last seven games as the road team in the series. The last time they lost in Atlanta was in 1978.
The Giants will make it eight straight with a win in the Georgia Dome, but the Falcons will ultimately hold off the Giants for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Prediction: Giants 27, Falcons 23
The Giants are a great road team, but it is hard for me to envision them winning back-to-back games in Atlanta and Baltimore. The Ravens are 4-0 at home, and despite recent injuries to their defense and shaky quarterback play of late by Joe Flacco, they will find a way to prevail in this matchup.
Prediction: Ravens 28, Giants 17
This game had the potential to decide the NFC East title when the schedules were released back in April. Now it looks like the Eagles will be eliminated from playoff contention well before these two teams meet in Week 17.
The Giants should have the division won and could potentially be locked into the No. 3 or No. 4 seed heading into this game. With nothing to play for outside of beating their hated rival, the Giants will get swept by the Eagles in the regular season for the third time in four years. The reigning Super Bowl champions won't mind, though, as they'll quickly turn their focus to defending their title.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Giants 17
Final Record: 11-5, NFC East Champions