It's beginning to look like the Giants won't be defending their Super Bowl championship next month.
For the 2nd straight week, "Big Blue"'s offense disappeared, this time losing to Baltimore, the team that handed the Giants their only Super Bowl loss, after the 2000 season. The Ravens, to their credit, needed the game just as badly, if not more, as they clinched the AFC North title for the 2nd straight year. Right now, however, Baltimore holds the 4 seed in the AFC, and if everyone holds serve next Sunday, the first round matches would be:
5 Indianapolis at 4 Baltimore
6 Cincinnati vs. 3 New England
Houston & Denver get a week off as the top seeds, and their opponents the weekend of January 12-13 will be determined by the outcomes of the Wild Card games.
The Giants finish at home against Philadelphia, which already beat them this season, and it looks like the Eagles will have Michael Vick back at QB one last time, as rookie Nick Foles suffered a broken hand in Sunday's loss to Washington. Vick is virtually a goner, along with coach Andy Reid, after the season, as the Eagles are assured of finishing in the cellar. The Giants can do no worse than third, but a win, coupled with Washington clinching the division by beating Dallas, would leave them in second, and still needing tons of help to advance. Given the Eagles' mastery of the Giants in recent years, I'd say they'll at least save face.
The same cannot be said for the Jets. As I wrote last night, they turned in a poor showing vs. San Diego, allowing the Chargers to at least save face for one week. I saw one headline this morning that alleged that Tim Tebow told his coaches he didn't want to play. I didn't read into it, but I have to believe that might've been more hyperbole than anything else. The Jets, as I wrote before, traded for Tebow to keep him away from New England, much like the Yankees would trade for someone or claim them off waivers to block the Red Sox from doing the same. Such front office strategies, as the Jets found out to their sorrow, don't always work. For all of his own bluster and hyperbole, Rex Ryan and the Jets administration must be held accountable for misusing Tebow, and not defining his specific role on the team clearly enough. Had they done so, we wouldn't have this mess.
Let's consider the NFC playoff picture for a moment:
2. Green Bay
3. San Francisco
6. ???? (Minnesota or the Giants or someone else)
Let's say the Giants somehow pull one out of the fire and make the playoffs. They would have to return to San Francisco for the 4th time in 2 seasons, and the Niners, this time, won't have ex-Giants Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham waiting. Jacobs was suspended by the team, disgruntled about his role and lack of playing time, and Manningham injured his knee in a loss last night to Seattle. Washington, regardless of what happens, can't move up any higher, and thus would have Seattle coming in, with their hot rookie QB, Russell Wilson, out of Wisconsin. A marquee matchup that could either be a shootout, or, as we saw last night, another blowout in favor of the Seahawks. They aren't just hot now, they're scorching. The winner of a Seattle-Washington game would have the honor of facing Atlanta, and that isn't easy, either.
For Giants fans, they can look on the bright side. There's always the chance Jacobs will come home if he asks for a trade, as he seemed to be hinting that he was regretting leaving for the West Coast as a free agent. Don't hold your breath, though.
As for the Jets, they'll have someone new roaming the sidelines in September. Just don't know who, and right now, I don't really have a clue. If Ryan stays, then owner Woody Johnson might just have too much baby powder on the brain, if you get my drift........