NFL postseason positioning in December is as fickle and volatile as a mom shopping during the holiday season, and the New York Giants will be jockeying for playoff position all the way down to the wire.
The NFC playoff picture, and the Giants projected first-round opponent, remains as much a mystery as the outcome of the 2012 regular season.
If the postseason had started after Week 13, the New York Giants were slated to face the Chicago Bears. After the Week 14 dust settled, the G-Men now have a projected playoff matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know—right now, the (8-5) Giants don't know.
Assuming New York doesn't implode, lets have a little fun and explore the multitude of potential playoff matchups that the G-Men could face.
G-Men would face Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawsk at MetLife Stadium if playoffs began now.
The Giants would be the fourth seed, the Seahawks the fifth seed, and their playoff matchup would be the first meeting of the two teams this season.
Seattle has a very well-rounded attack, starting with their most surprising piece—rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
Let's assess position by position in this potential matchup.
Quarterback: Eli gets edge over first-year sensation Wilson, as playoff experience wins out.
Running game: Ahmad Bradshaw and Marshawn Lynch are averaging 4.4 and 4.9 yards per carry this season respectively, and after Sunday's breakout performance of the Giants David Wilson—edge goes to the G-Men.
Receiving: Sidney Rice and Golden Tate each have seven touchdowns on the season, but Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are better big-play threats, as they have more receptions and yards than the Seattle duo.
Defense: Seattle edges New York, as their defense has been a little more disciplined and consistent this season, especially pertaining to stopping the run.
Special Teams: Despite the meteoric rise of Wilson's kick-return prowess, Seattle's Leon Washington is a huge threat—this category is a wash.
If this matchup takes place and happens at MetLife Stadium—advantage Giants.
Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears.
There's still a great chance that the Giants could face the Chicago Bears.
Jay Cutler has taken some massive hits this season, but he's shown toughness and resiliency to this point.
He's put his team in an enviable position in the NFC playoff race—here's how the two teams match up.
Quarterback: Eli and Cutler can equally sling it and can also make head-scratching throws sometimes, but Eli is much more proven in big spots, so he gets the nod here.
Running game: New Giants duo of Bradshaw and Wilson is a little more dynamic than Matt Forte and Michael Bush and have a better nose for the end zone at this point in the season.
Receiving: Cruz, Nicks, Martellus Bennett and the platoon of Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle is more fire power than Chicago's Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett and company.
Defense: Chicago has a better pass and run defense than New York, but not by much.
Special Teams: In spite of the respect Devin Hester still garners, New York's Wilson is a better, faster, younger version.
Advantage Giants in this one.
Green Bay golden boy Aaron Rodgers.
A rematch of last year's NFC divisional round between the Giants and Green Bay Packers could occur in the first round of these playoffs.
They already met this season back in Week 12, when the G-Men dominated the Packers.
While the game is still fresh in the minds of the players and fans, here's a reminder of how the two clubs measure up.
Quarterback: Eli and Aaron Rodgers is a tough one to call, as both have been clutch leaders for their organizations in recent years. It's a tie, as both are capable of the remarkable.
Running game: The Giants have a poorer run defense than the Packers, and Alex Green and Ryan Grant would keep New York honest, but the Giants Bradshaw and Wilson would wear down the Packers' average run defense.
Receiving: The Packers receiving corps has been hobbled and bruised this season, and the Giants attack led by Cruz and Nicks was too much for Green Bay's secondary last postseason, and now the G-Men have Bennett in the fold.
Defense: The Packers defense is better overall, but not by much—slight edge to Green Bay.
Special Teams: This could be the difference-maker in their potential playoff meeting. Green Bay's Randall Cobb and New York's Wilson will determine which team holds onto momentum.
Since the Giants won last year's championship game and this year's regular season meeting—advantage New York.
There's a less likely chance that the G-Men get the San Francisco 49ers in the first round, but there's still a chance.
If that were to happen and the Giants play the way they did when they whooped them back in Week 6, it would be big advantage New York.
There is one caveat—Alex Smith was the quarterback in last year's NFC Championship game and in Week 6, and now the 49ers QB is Colin Kaepernick.
Here's how the East Coast and West Coast rivals stack up.
Quarterback: I'd take Eli's decision making and overall play over Smith or Kaepernick in a big game, and it won't matter which Niner's quarterback takes the snaps.
Running game: The combination of Bradshaw and Wilson is dynamic, but you always know what you're getting with Frank Gore. Since the Giants Achilles heel is their run defense—advantage San Francisco.
Receiving: Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis lead the San Francisco attack, but they don't possess the same yards-after-catch ability that Cruz and Nicks do, plus Bennett in the seam is dangerous.
Defense: Even though the Niners got exposed by the G-Men in their meeting earlier this season, that was uncharacteristic, and it won't happen again—advantage San Francisco.
Special Teams: David Wilson is a much better X-factor than Kyle Williams.
This matchup would be extremely even, the winner would come down to quarterback play and running the ball—too close to call.
The Atlanta Falcons have already won the NFC South, but depending on how the final three games of the regular season go, Giants/Falcons could happen.
The country will get a possible preview next Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
In anticipation of their first matchup since the G-Men ousted the Falcons in the first round of last year's playoffs, here's a look at the two clubs.
Quarterback: Matt Ryan has had a slightly better year slinging the pigskin than Eli but has yet to prove his value in the postseason—edge to Manning.
Running game: Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers have been opportunistic runners this season, and before New York's Wilson emerged as an X-factor, Atlanta would have gotten the edge, but New York gets the nod here.
Receiving: Roddy White and Cruz a nearly identical numbers catches, but Cruz has nine touchdowns to White's five. Because Nicks has been hampered with knee issues, Julio Jones gets slight edge. At the end of the day, the receivers from both teams cancel each other out.
Defense: The Falcons have similar deficiencies on defense as the Giants, but the G-Men's A-game defense is better than Atlanta's.
Special Teams: Once again, David Wilson's explosiveness is better than Rodgers or who ever else tries to return kicks for Atlanta.
Next Sunday's game will be a great indication to how these two perennial playoff teams match up—stay tuned.
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Adrian Peterson.
At this point, it's too early to speculate if the Giants could potentially face any of these teams in the first round of the playoffs.
After next Sunday, it could be a completely different conversation depending on how things shake out.
From a preparation standpoint, the G-Men wouldn't have to study as much film on the Redskins or Cowboys, as they know them all too well.
The Vikings could be a team to watch, especially if they win against St. Louis next week.
Adrian Peterson has been running like a man possessed, and the Giants run defense would not want to see him in the playoffs.
The chances that the Giants face any of these three clubs are the slimmest of all the teams previously mentioned, but as stated earlier, the playoff picture can change radically and at a moments notice.