Giants have risen to the top

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

The New York Giants will have their feet up this weekend watching the action as one of six teams to get a bye this week.

When the dust settles Sunday afternoon, the Giants will in all probability move up a notch as the team to beat in the National Football Conference despite not playing a down.

The problem is that the NFC looks like it stands for the Non-Factor Conference, with the exception of the 5-2 Giants, none of the other teams looks as if they can stand up to the best that the AFC has to offer.

The Falcons and their fans are also 5-2 in the NFC South and like the Giants will have this week off. But right now if the Giants were to play the Falcons, just which team would be favoured to win and by how much?

The NFC was supposed to be all about the Dallas Cowboys and the defending champion New Orleans Saints with the Packers and Vikings the other two teams in the big four.

But the Cowboys have imploded and are 1-5, the Saints are stumbling around at 4-3 while the Packers are plodding along at 4-3 and resembling a MASH unit more than a Super Bowl contender the Vikings are consumed and bedevilled by the Brett Favre soap opera.

This weekend the elite of the AFC--the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers -- three teams that are all 5-1, find themselves up against three of the above-mentioned NFC teams and an AFC sweep of the games is not only a possibility but a probability.

In the afternoon, Green Bay is at the Jets while Minnesota visits the Patriots in New England. The Sunday night game has the Steelers on the road in the Big Easy.

With a sweep, the AFC can put the boots to the NFC and leave it with just one truly strong team standing, the Giants. Talk about the opportunity of making a statement.

Over their remaining nine games, the Giants face just one more AFC opponent, Jacksonville, so a true test of their ability won't be measured by how they do against the powers in the AFC. That may have to wait until the Super Bowl.

Looking at the big inter-conference games this weekend, the NFC team most up against it appear to be the plucky Packers.

Not only are they facing a team that has won five in a row, but the Jets are also well rested as they are coming off their bye week.

In New York, where they are always quick to crown champions, there is already talk in the media of a Jets-Giants showdown in the Super Bowl. Can you imagine the hype in that one?

The contest in Foxborough has had two giant story lines -- the obvious ones being whether or not Favre will play

and extend his consecutive game playing streak and the return of controversial wide receiver Randy Moss, who was traded to the Vikings just two weeks ago.

By the way, Favre let ESPN's Ed Werder know yesterday that his ankle has "heal significantly" and that he expects to start against the Patriots today.

But there are another couple of streaks on the line in that game and both of them concern the Pats.

There is the streak that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is riding having won 23 consecutive games at Gillette Stadium. A victory over the Vikings would put him one victory shy of the NFL record of 25 consecutive home wins engineered by--you guessed it -- Favre, set from 1995 to 1998 when he played for the Packers.

The Patriots will also be looking to extend their 15-game winning streak against an NFC opponent when playing at Gillette.

In the Sunday nighter, the Saints are a team in search of itself, which is an odd place for a Super Bowl winning team to find itself.

They have had their share of injuries and have been misfiring in just about every one of their games. Last week they received a slap in the face when they were upset by the Browns.

Now they're up against one of the best defences in the game in facing the Steelers.

"We knew that this journey was not going to be easy going through this season, and we knew that we would have peaks and valleys,'' Saints quarterback Drew Brees said earlier in the week. "We just happen to be in one of those valleys. It feels like we've been in it for a while and we all want to get out of it."

Sunday also happens to be Halloween and heading in it looks like it could be a day of nothing but horror for the best the NFC has to offer.

mike.rutsey@sunmedia.ca


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