The Giants are the class of the NFL. If there were any doubts, they were laid to rest Sunday in Arizona, where a Cardinals team that thought it was ready to be called elite found out it has another thing coming.
Much was made of the Giants' inexplicable loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 6. What was wrong with the defending champs? How could they look so flat against a team so awful? Was Big Blue not the team we thought it was?
It’s six games and six wins later, and nobody’s asking anything other than, “Can anybody beat these guys?”
The Giants have had five straight stern tests: the Steelers, Cowboys, Eagles, Ravens and Cardinals. They’ve passed them all. In the process, they’ve reminded us that you don’t learn anything about a good team when it is upset by a prohibitive underdog in the first half of the season.
You learn what teams are made of by what they do down the stretch.
Every game at this time of the season is a statement game. And the Giants are posting their statements on billboards around the league in letters six feet high. Last Sunday, the statement to the Ravens, was, “Work on your run defense.” This Sunday, the statement to the Cardinals was, “Keep dreaming.”
There were a lot of statements to be made around the NFC on Sunday. The Panthers had a chance to tell stay ahead of the Bucs in the hot NFC South while telling the Falcons that they’re a good young team, but not that good. Carolina failed on both counts, losing 45-28 to an Atlanta team with the league’s best young quarterback that made a statement of its own: “Don’t count us out.” The Bucs, meanwhile, kept the Lions winless and joined the Panthers at 8-3, two games ahead of the we’re-not-dead-yet Falcons.
In Jacksonville, the Vikings had to beat the Jaguars to keep up with the Bears. Minnesota passed that test, and Chicago responded by taking care of business against the Rams to maintain a tie with the Vikes atop the NFC North.
The Cowboys had to beat the woeful 49ers to let the Giants know that Dallas still has the talent to win the NFC, even if they don’t win the division. And the Cowboys finally got the big day from Terrell Owens that T.O. has been saying he has to have for them to win.
The Redskins are fighting the Cowboys, Bucs, Panthers and Falcons for a wild card. They stayed tied with the Cowboys at 7-4 with a narrow win over the Seahawks.
So it was a pretty good day for NFC teams that had to win, a far better day than it was in the AFC, where the Titans were exposed and the Broncos were crushed by Oakland.
It remains to be seen whether this means the balance of NFL power has swung to the NFC. But it sure looks like it.
And the team that looks more powerful than any in the business is the Giants. The Titans sport the same 10-1 mark, but no one’s convinced that equal records mean equal teams.
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|1. D. Brees, Saints||30||49||386||4|
|2. M. Schaub, Texans||27||36||328||2|
|3. J. Cutler, Broncos||33||49||316||1|
|1. M. Turner, Falcons||25||208||8.3||1|
|2. D. Williams, Panthers||25||178||7.1||0|
|3. M. Bush, Raiders||27||177||6.6||2|
|1. A. Johnson, Texans||10||148||14.8||2|
|2. S. Smith, Panthers||5||134||26.8||0|
|3. L. Fitzgerald, Cardinals||5||130||26.0||2|
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