At this point last season the New York Giants were unsure if they would even secure a playoff berth. One Super Bowl later, they proved that anything can happen once you punch your ticket to the dance.
The Giants finished the season at just 9-7 and lost four games straight at one point. However, they found a way to pull things together and got hot at the right time to breeze through the playoffs and ultimately knock off the mighty New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Heading into the final weeks of the season, there are plenty of teams on the bubble that will need to fight to get in. While the elite teams in the league can slow down a bit and get the required rest for stars heading into the postseason, the teams fighting for spots will need to be at their best.
Here's a look at the best candidates to be this season's Giants.
As much attention as Robert Griffin III has received this year for his phenomenal rookie season, it may be hard for his team to sneak up on anyone, but the Redskins are quietly one of the hottest teams in the league right now.
After a 3-6 start in the team's first nine games, the Redskins have scored a ton of momentum since the bye week. With four wins in a row, the team stands at 7-6 with a game against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.
The injury to Griffin has to be concerning, but he should be fine by the time the playoffs roll around. The Redskins feature the league's best rushing attack and play great defense against the run.
A team that runs the ball well and doesn't turn the ball over is the type of team that can make a huge run in the playoffs. The Redskins are young, but their style of play makes them extremely dangerous.
It's been a long time since the Cincinnati Bengals won a playoff game—1990 to be exact.
That could change this season. After a 34-13 drubbing of the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, the Bengals are now 8-6 and in prime position to make the playoffs. Once they get there they could be dangerous.
Which team has the best shot of making a deep playoff run?
The Bengals won't be hosting a playoff game, but that shouldn't be a problem—the team is 5-2 on the road this season as opposed to 3-4 when at home. Traveling in the playoffs shouldn't hurt their chances at winning.
After the win in Philadelphia, the Bengals have now won five of their last six games and really appear to be in a groove.
Andy Dalton and A.J. Green make the headlines for this team, but it's the Bengals defense that makes them dangerous in the playoffs. They are ranked 10th in passing defense and 9th against the run. Whoever they play will have a difficult time moving the ball.
Much like the Redskins, the Seahawks are led by a charismatic quarterback that has turned the franchise around rather quickly.
Russell Wilson has been efficient as the team's starter in his rookie season and the defense is playing at an elite level.
At 8-5, the Seahawks aren't quite a lock to get in the playoffs, but if they do they have proven they are the team no one will want to play. Led by a defense that ranks fourth in the league against the pass and have a penchant for getting to the quarterback, Seattle holds wins over playoff contenders like the Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers.
Teams taking the Seahawks lightly do so at their own peril. With wins over some of the league's best teams, they are primed to make some noise in the playoffs.