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There's no question that you attract more attention in the NFL if you confound expectations.
You need only look at this Sunday's game between the Falcons and Giants as confirmation of that fact. The Falcons entered the year as a likely playoff team, did very little along the way to disabuse anyone of that notion and finished the year with 10 wins and a Wild Card berth.
They were steady to the point of near boredom. A couple of amazing wins, a couple of brutal losses and a general level of competence the entire way that wasn't flashy enough to get anyone to spend all that much time talking about them.
Steady is not a word anyone would use to describe the Giants. Everything they've done, both good and bad, has been done big.
Before the season started, they were headed nowhere fast and the opening loss to the Redskins confirmed that the team wasn't built to succeed this season. Then they won six of seven, Jerry Reese was a genius and the whole football world was populated by fools for doubting the wonder of the Giants.
That was followed by four straight losses featuring some of the worst defense ever played by a team wearing Giants uniforms. There were calls for Reese, Tom Coughlin and Perry Fewell to get fired and a wide belief that the season was going to end badly for Big Blue.
And then, finally, three wins in the last four games switched things back to a deep belief in everything that the Giants were doing.
That belief has led to wild comparisons to 2007 and Super Bowl dreaming that has relegated this Sunday's game to an afterthought in the minds of many people who trashed the Giants after they lost to the Redskins for the second time this season two weeks ago.
That's just the macro view of things. Within many of their games, the Giants veered wildly from one extreme to the other with the first Cowboys win, when the Giants were spit on down 12 and celebrated as conquering heroes 15 points later, as the prime illustration of their boom-or-bust ways.
All of that leads us back to the question of which Giants team is going to show up this Sunday. It's easy to make a compelling argument that they turned the corner in the final weeks of the season, but it was just as easy to make just as compelling an argument about them at all of those other points in the season referenced above.
Every time conventional wisdom has settled on an identity for these Giants, they've run in the other direction as fast as they could. It makes for a fun ride, but that kind of inconsistency would seem to be a great risk when faced with a team that stays on as even a keel as the Falcons.
The Giants pass rush can carry them a long way, but only if the Falcons, who gave up four sacks in the last five games, allow it to happen. Eli Manning can hit big plays against the secondary, but Matt Ryan can hit just as many and he has a running game to boot.
All of the X's and O's wind up being pretty close to even. The question then becomes about whether the Giants are really peaking or if they won two emotional games and perhaps used up whatever was left in their tank.
Basically, we're asking which Giants team is going to show up on Sunday?
It's a question we've asked all year and we're still no closer to knowing the answer.