I'm back in my recliner after a week of vacation in Cannon Beach, OR, and am struck by the meaning in this meaningless Giants/Pats game. Forget the undefeated thing. I'm not sure anyone could convince me that the way they are performing in this game won't have a positive effect on their first playoff game. Inversely, coming out and laying an egg would make it harder to come out with confidence against the Bucs next week.
Holmgren has been preaching this for the last few weeks, but I honestly haven't believed him until I watched this game. Ideally, the Hawks get a sizable early lead, and can let folks rest in the second half, but I'm now officially in the "let's play this like other games" camp. Well...mostly. :)
I decided to run a quick check on the record of recent NFC and AFC champs in the last game in the regular season. Here's what I found:
(SB Winner in Green)
2006 Colts (W) - Bears (L)
2005 Hawks (L) - Steelers (W)
2004 Patriots (W) - Eagles (L)
2003 Patriots (W) - Panthers (W)
2002 Raiders (W) - Buccaneers (W)
SB Winners: 5-0
I wouldn't expect a coach to build their strategy around that stat, but it's striking nonetheless.