The regular season is not about just making the postseason tournament. It’s also about gaining a top seed, preferably No. 1, to secure home field advantage in as many games as possible.
With 12 teams now in the big dance, it is usually assumed that the No. 1 seed has a huge advantage playing in front of their home crowd, with no travel or discomforts of being away from home, making their road to the Super Bowl much easier.
This may not necessarily be true for all teams. Here is a look at the New York Giants and what their playoff seedings have meant to them since the Wild Card teams were added.
The Giants snuck into the playoffs with the last Wild Card seed three times: 1981, 1984 and 2006. Their overall record in those postseasons is 2-3.
In 1984 they beat the Rams in the Wild Card round but lost to the 49ers again in the Divisional round. In 2006 the 8-8 Giants lost to the Eagles.
New York has entered the playoffs as a non-bottom, Wild Card team three times.
In 2002, they lost in the first round to San Francisco in the infamous “pass interference non-call” game.
The third time, 2007, was the charm. The Giants beat Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay all on the road. Then they went on to beat the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, 17-14, in the most improbable Super Bowl run in history.
They proved without question that it does not matter where you are seeded in the playoffs; just get in.
The Giants have made it to the playoffs as a division winner and No. 3 or No. 4 seed three times: 1997, 2005 and 2011.
Up until last season (2011), history had not been kind to the Giants coming out of these slots. In 1997, they lost to Minnesota in the first round. And, in 2005 they lost to Carolina.
Then last season (2011), they entered the playoffs as a fourth seed, division winner with a 9-7 record, and once again shocked the football world.
After winning their first game at home against Atlanta, they won three more games (Green Bay in the divisional playoff game and San Francisco in the NFC Championship on the road) and New England in Super Bowl XLVI, 21-17 for their fourth Super Bowl title.
In 1986, 1989 and 1990 the New York Giants entered the playoffs as a division winner and No. 2 seed.
Their lone loss as the No. 2 seed came in 1989 against the Los Angeles Rams, the infamous “Flipper” Game.
In 1986, they beat the 49ers in the Divisional playoff game and the Washington Redskins in the NFC Championship (both at home). Then they went on to beat the Denver Broncos 39-20 for their first Super Bowl.
In 1990, they once again turned the No. 2 seed into a world title. First, they beat the Chicago Bears at home in the Divisional playoff game. Then they went on the road to beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship. In Super Bowl XXV, they beat the Buffalo Bills for their second Vince Lombardi Trophy, 20-19.
Their overall record is 6-1 coming out of the second seed, with two Super Bowl victories.
The New York Giants have entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed only twice in the modern NFL era. Even though their record is 2-2, the end results have not been super.
In 2000, they crushed Philadelphia in the Divisional playoffs and then soundly beat Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game. But, in Super Bowl XXXV, they suffered their only Super Bowl defeat against the Baltimore Ravens, 34-7.
In 2008, they lost in the Divisional playoffs to the Eagles.
Statistics tell us the Giants are “money” coming out of the two-slot, with two Super Bowl victories: Super Bowl XXI and Super Bowl XXV.
However, recent history tells us something different. If the Giants have proven anything over the past four seasons, it's that it doesn’t matter what your playoff rank is. Just get in and peak come playoff time.
This is why Giants Nation is so supremely confident when it comes to the postseason and winning championships. They have accomplished what no other team has ever done; won two Super Bowls almost entirely on the road.
Bottom line: If the Giants make the playoffs, they are a very dangerous team regardless of what their seed is, and every team knows that. This makes them the team no one wants to face.