Hard-to-Define Momentum on Giants' Side

Hard-to-Define Momentum on Giants' Side

The New York Giants have two huge advantages going into their NFC Championship showdown Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

Momentum. And recent NFL history.

"I think they're on a winning streak," Niners linebacker Patrick Willis said. "So, I don't think too much has worked in other teams' favor."

You know what else hasn't worked in other teams' favor? Having a high seed and a first-round playoff bye.

Of the last six Super Bowl champions, only the 2009 New Orleans Saints and 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers had first-round byes. Three of those teams won it all after just squeaking into the postseason. It was as if the near-death experience of the regular season, having come back to life, sent each on a fearless tear that ended only when they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

The NFL, as it approaches crowning their champion, becomes a series of battles on a high-wire act — a place where a hundred moving parts must operate in nearly perfect synchrony under dire stress and against grueling adversaries. A single mistake can cost a team a championship. And a truly unified body — a team really in sync — can best an adversary that dominated the regular season if they suddenly find themselves just a sliver off their game.

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